|Designer||Friedrich Geiger (1969)|
|Body and chassis|
|Class||Full-size luxury car (F)|
|Body style||4-door sedan|
|Transmission||3-speed 722.0 automatic|
4-speed 722.1 automatic
|Wheelbase||2,865 mm (112.8 in)|
2,965 mm (116.7 in) (SEL)
|Length||4,960 mm (195.3 in)|
5,060 mm (199.2 in) (SEL)
5,220 mm (205.5 in) (SE US bumpers)
5,334 mm (210.0 in) (SEL US bumpers)
|Width||1,870 mm (73.6 in)|
|Height||1,410 mm (55.5 in) & 1,430 mm (56.3 in)|
The Mercedes-Benz W116 is a series of flagship luxury sedans produced from September 1972 until 1980. The W116 automobiles were the first Mercedes-Benz models to be officially called S-Class, although some earlier sedan models had already been designated unofficially with the letter 'S' for Sonderklasse (German for 'special class'). The W116 was selected as European Car of the Year in 1974.
The W116's development began in 1966, which was only a year after the launch of the W108/09. This was the first Mercedes-Benz sedan to feature the brand-new corporate styling theme, which endured until 1993, when the 190 was discontinued. The design, finalized in December 1969, was a dramatic leap forward, with more masculine lines that combined to create an elegant and sporty character. The basic design concept continued the themes originally introduced on the R107 SL-Class roadster, especially the front and rear lights. As with the SL, the W116 received the ridged lamp covers which kept dirt accumulation at bay; this was to remain a Mercedes-Benz design theme into the 21st century. The W116 was Friedrich Geiger's last design for Mercedes-Benz; his career had started with the Mercedes-Benz 500K in 1933.
The W116 was presented in September 1972. The model range initially included two versions of the M110 engine (straight-six with 2746 cc displacement) — the 280S (using a Solex carburetor) and the 280SE (using Bosch D-Jetronic injection), plus the 350SE, powered by the M116 engine (V8 with 3499 cc displacement). After the 1973 oil crisis, a long-wheelbase 280SEL was added to the model range.
The larger 4.5-litre M117 V8 engines were developed in response to US emission regulations and initially fitted to the 350SL and 350SLC for the US market in 1972, which were renamed as the 450SL and 450SLC in 1973. Mercedes-Benz introduced the 450SE and 450SEL for both US and international markets in 1973. The 4.5-litre models were available with three-speed automatic gearboxes only, while the models with smaller 3.5-litre V8 engine could be ordered with a four-speed (and later five-speed) manual gearbox. The 450SE and 450SEL received a plusher interior, with velour or leather seats rather than the checkered cloth of the lesser models. The door cards had the velour or leather inserts.
The 4.5-litre M117 V8 engines had 225 PS (165 kW) in most European and international markets, 190 hp (142 kW) for the US market, and 200 PS (147 kW) for Swedish and Australian markets. The 450 models received a plusher interior as well, with velour or leather seats rather than the checkered cloth of the lesser models. The door cards were also of a different design, with pads being pulled up around the windows.
The W116 had independent suspension and disk brakes on all four wheels.
The most notable W116 model was the high-performance, limited-production 450SEL 6.9, which was introduced in 1975. This model boasted the largest engine installed in a post-war Mercedes-Benz (and any non-American production automobile) up to that time, and it also featured self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension.
Exclusive to the North American and Japanese markets was the 300SD, the world's first passenger car with a turbocharged diesel engine, which was introduced in 1978. No 300SD model was offered in Europe (where diesel engines were well-received and had tax advantages) until 1991, when the W140 300SD was finally introduced in Europe and international markets.
The 450SE was named the European Car of the Year in 1974, even though the W116 range was first introduced at the Paris Motor Show in the fall of 1972. The W116 became the first production car to use an electronic four-wheel multi-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) from Bosch as an option from 1978 on.
Production totaled 473,035 units. The W116 was succeeded by the W126 S-Class in 1979. The W116 was sold throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Australia.
In 1975, the W116 was upgraded with a new fuel injection system to comply with revised exhaust emission standards in European markets. A slight power reduction was a result of this update. In 1978, a series of engine upgrades restored original performance levels with new fuel injection systems. Initially the early models (1973-1974) of the W116 with the Twin Cam inline 6 used the D-Jetronic fuels injection system with computers and MAP sensor that are both prone to failure after more than 20 years of use. From 1975 onward they used the K-Jetronic mechanical fuel injection system, a less complicated system that proved to be much more reliable in the long run and injectors cost 6x less than the D-jetronic system. The W116 equipped with the K-Jetronic system, used a cast-iron fuel distributor, which can be prone to rust over time if moisture or water is present in the fuel. This was changed to an alloy fuel distributor in the following model W126 and is not subject to corrosion.
|Chassis code||Model Years||Model||Engine||No. built|
|W116.020||1973–1980||280 S||2.8 L M110 I6||122,848|
|W116.024||1973–1980||280 SE||2.8 L M110 I6||150,593|
|W116.025||1974–1980||280 SEL||2.8 L M110 I6||7,032|
|W116.028||1973–1980||350 SE||3.5 L M116 V8||51,100|
|W116.029||1973–1980||350 SEL||3.5 L M116 V8||4,266|
|W116.032||1973–1980||450 SE||4.5 L M117 V8||41,604|
|W116.033||1973–1980||450 SEL||4.5 L M117 V8||59,578|
|W116.036||1975–1980||450 SEL 6.9||6.8 L M100 V8||7,380|
|W116.120||1978–1980||300SD||3.0 L OM617 turbodiesel I5
(United States and Canada only)
W116 was first model from Mercedes-Benz to feature the hydropneumatic suspension system. While the principle is similar to Citroën’s, Mercedes-Benz made some changes. The hydraulic pump was driven by the timing chain instead of rubber belt for more reliability (Citroën’s system would lead to loss of hydraulic power if belt failed). Mercedes-Benz utilised the hard rubber dampers as temporary dampers in event of hydraulic failure. The height adjustment had a smaller range of height as compared to Citroën (5 cm versus 50 cm). Unlike Citroën, the car did not “sink” to the ground after shutting off the engine, and the driver did not have to wait for the hydraulic power to spool up and lift the car to the operating height.
The full hydropneumatic suspension system was fitted to the 450SEL 6.9 as standard. In 1977, the self-levelling rear suspension system was offered for 450SEL as extra cost option outside the North American market.
North American sales
North America was a key market for the W116. The model range for the U.S. market at launch was 280SE, 450SE, and 450SEL. For 1975, 280S was launched as a response to the 1973 oil crisis. The 6.9 was added in 1977 with the MSRP of $38,230 while 280S and 450SE were dropped due to slow sales. 300SD, the world’s first passenger car with turbocharged diesel engine, was launched in the United States and Canada in 1978: the S-Class model with turbocharged diesel engine was exclusive to the North American and Japanese markets until 1991.
 It had a turbocharged 3.0-litre inline-five diesel engine developed from that of the C111 experimental vehicle. It was developed to help Mercedes-Benz keep from falling afoul of the Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards introduced in 1975; it became a best seller and helped considerably raise Mercedes-Benz' average fuel economy.
The high-performance 450SEL 6.9 version of the S-Class was built on its own assembly line by Daimler-Benz in Sindelfingen, Germany and based on the long-wheelbase version of the W116 chassis. The model was generally referred to in the company's literature as the "6.9", to separate it from the regular 450SEL.
The 450SEL 6.9 was first shown to the motoring press at the Geneva Auto Show in 1974 and produced between 1975 and 1981 in extremely limited numbers. It was billed as the flagship of the Mercedes-Benz car line and the successor to Mercedes-Benz's original high-performance sedan, the 300SEL 6.3.
|Model||280 S||280 SE
|450 SEL 6.9||300 SD|
|Type:||W 116 V28||W 116 E28||W 116 E35||W 116 E45||W 116 E69||W 116 D30A|
|Engine:||6-cylinder-inline engine (four-stroke), front-mounted||90° 8-cylinder-V engine (four-stroke), front-mounted||5-cylinder-inline engine (four-stroke), front-mounted|
|Bore x Stroke:||86 mm x 78.8 mm||92 mm x 65.8 mm||92 mm x 85 mm||107 mm x 95 mm||90.9 mm x 92.4 mm|
|Displacement:||2746 cc||3499 cc||4520 cc||6834 cc||2998 cc|
|Engine code:||M110.922||D-Jet: M110.983
|160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp)
USA: 120 hp (89 kW; 122 PS)
|185 PS (136 kW; 182 hp)
USA: 142 hp (106 kW; 144 PS)
|200 PS (147 kW; 197 hp)
|225 PS (165 kW; 222 hp)
USA: 190 hp (142 kW; 193 PS)
|286 PS (210 kW; 282 hp)
USA: 250 hp (186 kW; 253 PS)
|1979: 110 hp (82 kW; 112 PS)|
1980: 120 hp (89 kW; 122 PS)
|225 N⋅m (166 lb⋅ft)
USA: 143 lb⋅ft (194 N⋅m)
|238 N⋅m (176 lb⋅ft)
USA: 149 lb⋅ft (202 N⋅m)
|286 N⋅m (211 lb⋅ft)
|377 N⋅m (278 lb⋅ft)
USA: 240 lb⋅ft (325 N⋅m)
|550 N⋅m (406 lb⋅ft)
USA: 360 lb⋅ft (488 N⋅m)
|1979: 168 lb⋅ft (228 N⋅m)|
1980: 170 lb⋅ft (230 N⋅m)
|Compression Ratio:||9.0: 1||9.0: 1||9.5: 1||8.8: 1||8.8: 1||21.5: 1|
|Fuel feed:||One 2-bbl Solex 4A1||Bosch D-Jetronic, from July 1975 K-Jetronic||Bosch K-Jetronic||Bosch injection pump |
|Fuel tank capacity:||96 L (25.4 US gal; 21.1 imp gal)||82 L (21.7 US gal; 18.0 imp gal)|
|Valvetrain:||DOHC, duplex chain||SOHC, duplex chain|
|Gearbox:||4-speed or 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic
rear wheel drive, standard axle ratio 3.69:1 or 3.92:1 (5-speed)
or 3-speed automatic
rear wheel drive
standard axle ratio 3.46:1
rear wheel drive
standard axle ratio 3.07:1
rear wheel drive
standard axle ratio 2.65:1
|4-speed automatic |
rear wheel drive
standard axle ratio 3.07:1
|Automatic gearbox: model (type)||W4B 025 (722.1)||W3A 040 (722.0)||W3B 050 (722.0) Worldwide W3A 040 (722.0) USA & Japan||W3B 050 reinf. (722.003)||W4B 025 (722.1)|
|Electrical system:||12 volt|
|Front suspension:||Double wishbones, coil and additional rubber springs, stabilising bar |
6.9: Double wishbones, hydropneumatic damping, stabilizing torsion bar
|Rear suspension:||Diagonal swing axle, trailing arms, coil springs, stabilizing torsion bar |
6.9: Diagonal swing axle, hydropneumatic damping, stabilizing torsion bar · 4.5 and 6.9: anti-squat-device
|Brakes:||Disc brakes (Ø 278 mm front, 279 mm rear), power assisted, from 1979 on request ABS|
|Steering:||Recirculating ball steering, manual or servo-assisted|
|Body structure:||Sheet steel, monocoque (unibody) construction|
|Curb weight:||1,660 kg (3,660 lb)
USA: 3,770 lb (1,710 kg)
|1,665 kg (3,671 lb)
1,700 kg (3,748 lb)
USA: 3,750 lb (1,701 kg)
|1,725 kg (3,803 lb)
1,760 kg (3,880 lb)
|1,740 kg (3,836 lb)
1,825 kg (4,023 lb)
USA: 3,843 lb (1,743 kg)
|1,985 kg (4,376 lb)
USA: 4,285 lb (1,944 kg)
|1,815 kg (4,001 lb)|
|Loaded weight:||2,130 kg (4,696 lb)||2,130 kg (4,696 lb)
2,165 kg (4,773 lb)
|2,195 kg (4,839 lb)
2,220 kg (4,894 lb)
|2,250 kg (4,960 lb)
2,285 kg (5,038 lb)
|2,420 kg (5,335 lb)||2,215 kg (4,883 lb)|
|Track front · rear:||1,521 mm (59.9 in) · 1,505 mm (59.3 in)|
|Wheelbase:||2,865 mm (112.8 in)
2,965 mm (116.7 in)
|2,860 mm (112.6 in)
2,960 mm (116.5 in)
|2,865 mm (112.8 in)|
|Length:||4,960 mm (195.3 in) |
5,060 mm (199.2 in)
|Width:||1,870 mm (73.6 in)|
|Height:||1,410 mm (55.5 in) |
1,430 mm (56.3 in)
|Tyre/Tire sizes:||185 HR 14||205/70 VR 14||215/70 VR 14||185 HR 14|
|Acceleration 0–100 km/h (0-62 mph):||11.5 s||10.5 s||9.5 s (SEL 10.0 s)||8.5 s (SEL 8.9 s)||7.4 s||17.0 s|
16.2 s (from 10.1979)
|Top speed:||190 km/h (118 mph)||200 km/h (124 mph)||205 km/h (127 mph)||210 km/h (130 mph)||225 km/h (140 mph)||165 km/h (103 mph)|
|Fuel Consumption (guideline DIN 70030: determined at 3/4 of top-speed (not more than 110 km/h), plus 10%):||12.5 L/100 km (18.8 mpg‑US; 22.6 mpg‑imp)||13.0 L/100 km (18.1 mpg‑US; 21.7 mpg‑imp)||14.5 L/100 km (16.2 mpg‑US; 19.5 mpg‑imp)||16.0 L/100 km (14.7 mpg‑US; 17.7 mpg‑imp)||10.6 L/100 km (22 mpg‑US; 27 mpg‑imp)|
The W116 S-Class incorporated a broad variety of Mercedes-Benz safety innovations.
- Four wheel anti-lock brakes were first featured as an option on the 1978 W116 S-Class. This system prevents the wheels from locking while braking. The system improves steering control during hard braking situations, and to shorten brake distances.
- Strengthened body structure. The W116 featured a more stable security passenger cell with a stiffened roof frame structure. High strength roof and door pillars, along with other reinforced zones, provided enhanced vehicle occupant protection.
- Deformation zones (crumple zones) in the front and rear.
- A padded dashboard, deformable switches and controls, and a four-spoke steering wheel with impact absorber and broad impact cushion aimed to reduce occupant injury during collisions.
- The fuel tank was no longer fitted at the rear end, but was now placed above the rear axle for added protection.
- Wraparound turn signals made it easier to communicate with nearby drivers.
- "W116 : Mercedes-Benz S-Class – 280S, 280SE, 280SEL, 300SD, 350SE, 350SEL, 450SE, 450SEL & 450SEL 6.9". w116.org.
- Garnier, Peter, ed. (21 September 1972). "News". Autocar: 19.
- Deutsche Autos, Band 4, 2001, pp. 80–81, "Der letzte Wagen der Baureihe 116 lief im September 1980 vom Band, obwohl bereits im Dezember 1979 die Fertigung des Nachfolgers (Baureihe 126) begonnen hatte.".
- James Taylor (15 December 2013). Mercedes-Benz S-Class 1972-2013. Crowood. p. 40. ISBN 978-1-84797-596-6.
- Stjerna, Mikael (June 2016). "Årets vinnare" [The year's winner]. Klassiska Bilar (in Swedish). Stockholm, Sweden: Bonnier Tidskrifter AB. 5 (5): 40.
- Stjerna, p. 42
- "In the lap of luxury: The Mercedes S-Class W116 | Classic Driver Magazine". Classicdriver.com. 2013-07-11. Retrieved 2016-07-16.
- Stjerna, p. 39
- Deutsche Autos, Band 4, 2001, pp. 80, 86.
- "Exponat-Details: Mercedes-Benz 300SD" [Exhibit Details: Mercedes-Benz 300SD]. Mercedes-Benz Classic (in German). Daimler AG. 2012-03-12. Archived from the original on 2015-12-22.
- JAY RAMEY (1 February 2016). "Mercedes W123 hits the big 4-0 The grandfather of the E-Class is still a daily driver all around the world". Autoweek.
- Deutsche Autos, Band 4, 2001.
- "MB Passenger Car Series 116, PDF p. 10" (PDF).
- "MB Passenger Car Types with Engine M117, PDF p. 13" (PDF).
- "MB AUS 1979, PDF p. 57" (PDF).
- Alder, Trevor (1996). Mercedes-Benz S-Class Saloons, 1972–91: Road Tests & Articles. Transport Source Books. ASIN B005U5LANQ.
- Barrett, Frank (1998). Illustrated Buyer's Guide Mercedes-Benz. Motorbooks International Illustrated Buyer's Guide series (2nd ed.). Osceola, WI, USA: MBI Publishing. ISBN 0-7603-0451-3.
- Clarke, R.M., ed. (1987). On Mercedes 1971-1979. Road & Track Series. Cobham, Surrey, UK: Brooklands Books. ISBN 1-869826-42-6.
- ——————, ed. (1993). Mercedes Sclass 1972-1979. Road Test Series. Cobham, Surrey, UK: Brooklands Books. ISBN 1855201879.
- Häußermann, Martin (2006). Mercedes-Benz S-Class: The brochures since 1952. Archive edition of the DaimlerChrysler Group Archive. Bielefeld, Germany: Delius Klasing. ISBN 3-7688-1720-2.
- Hofner, Heribert (1997). Die S-Klasse von Mercedes-Benz: von der Kultur des Fahrens [The S-Class from Mercedes-Benz: from the culture of driving] (in German). Augsburg: Bechtermünz Verlag. ISBN 3-86047-589-4.
- ——————— (1997). Die S-Klasse von Mercedes-Benz: von der Kultur des Fahrens [The S-Class from Mercedes-Benz: from the culture of driving] (in German). Augsburg: Bechtermünz Verlag. ISBN 3860475894.
- ———————; Schrader, Halwart (2005). Mercedes-Benz Automobile [Mercedes-Benz Automobiles] (in German). Vol. Band 2: von 1964 bis heute [Volume 2: from 1964 to today]. Königswinter, Germany: Heel Verlag. ISBN 3898804194.
- ——————— (2011). Mercedes-Benz Typenkunde [Mercedes-Benz Type Study] (in German). Vol. Band 3. Modelle der Oberklasse von 1951 bis 1972, Luxusklasse, S-, SL- und SLC-Klasse [Volume 3. Upper class models from 1951 to 1972, Luxury class, S-, SL- and SLC-Class]. Bielefeld, Germany: Delius Klasing. ISBN 9783768832786.
- Kittler, Eberhard (2002). Mercedes-Benz. Typenkompass series (in German). Vol. Band 2. Personenwagen seit 1976 [Volume 2. Passenger Cars since 1976]. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3-613-02209-5.
- McComb, F. Wilson (1980). Mercedes-Benz V8s: Limousines, Saloons, Sedans. 1963 to date. Osprey AutoHistory series. London: Osprey Publishing. ISBN 0850453836.
- Meredith, Laurence (2003). Mercedes-Benz Saloons: The Classic Models of the 1960s and 1970s. Crowood AutoClassic Series. Ramsbury, Marlborough, UK: The Crowood Press. ISBN 1861265182.
- Niemann, Harry (2006). Personenwagen von Mercedes-Benz: Automobillegenden und Geschichten seit 1886 [Passenger Cars from Mercedes-Benz: Automobile Legends and Stories since 1886] (in German). Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3613025965.
- Nitske, W. Robert (1995). Mercedes-Benz Production Models Book 1946-1995 (4th ed.). Osceola, WI, USA: MBI Publishing. ISBN 0-7603-0245-6.
- Oswald, Werner [in German] (2001). Deutsche Autos [German Cars] (in German). Vol. Band [Volume] 4: 1945–1990 Audi, BMW, Mercedes, Porsche und andere [and others]. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3613021315.
- ——————— (2001). Mercedes-Benz Personenwagen [Mercedes-Benz Passenger Cars] (in German). Vol. Band 2: 1945–1985 [Volume 2: 1945–1985]. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 3613021684.
- Parish, Julian (2020). Mercedes-Benz S-Class: W116-series 1972 to 1980. The Essential Buyer's Guide series. Dorchester, Dorset, UK: Veloce Publishing. ISBN 9781787115637.
- Röcke, Matthias (1991). Das große Mercedes-S-Klasse-Buch: alle Modellreihen von W 108 bis W 140 (1965 bis heute) [The Big Mercedes S-Class Book: all model codes from W 108 to W 140 (1965 to today)] (in German). Königswinter, Germany: Heel Verlag. ISBN 3-89365-234-5.
- ——————— (2003). Das neue große Mercedes-S-Klasse-Buch [The New Big Mercedes S-Class Book] (in German). Königswinter, Germany: Heel Verlag. ISBN 3-89880-158-6.
- Rohde, Michael; Koch, Detlef (2000). Mercedes-Benz. Typenkompass series (in German). Vol. Band 1. Personenwagen 1945 - 1975 [Volume 1. Passenger Cars 1945 - 1975]. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 361302019X.
- Schlegelmilch, Rainer W. [in German]; Lehbrink, Hartmut; von Osterroth, Jochen (2013). Mercedes (revised ed.). Königswinter, Germany: Ullmann Publishing. ISBN 978-3-8480-0267-2.
- Storz, Alexander Franc (2010). Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse: Baureihe W 116. Schrader-Typen-Chronik series (in German). Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 9783613031838.
- Taylor, James (1986). Mercedes-Benz since 1945: A Collector's Guide. Vol. 3: The 1970s. Croydon, UK: Motor Racing Publications. pp. 6–22, 61–88, 127–129, 133–135, 139–140. ISBN 0-900549-97-1.
- —————— (2014). Mercedes-Benz S-Class 1972-2013. Ramsbury, Marlborough, UK: The Crowood Press. ISBN 978-1-84797-595-9.
- Chilton Automotive Editorial Staff (1974). Mercedes-Benz: 1968-73 All 220, 230, 250, 280, 300, 350 and 450 models, gasoline and diesel engines. Chilton's Repair & Tune-Up Guide Series. Radnor, PA, USA: Chilton Book Co. ISBN 0-8019-5907-1.
- Mellon, Thomas A, ed. (2001). Mercedes: Coupes/Sedans/Wagons, 1974-84 Repair Manual. Chilton Total Car Care Series. Radnor, PA, USA: Chilton; Sparkford, UK: Haynes Publishing. ISBN 0-8019-9076-9.
- Schauwecker, Steve; Haynes, John H. (1987). Mercedes-Benz 350 and 450: 1971 thru 1980 3.5 and 4.5 liter V8: 350 SL, 450 SE, 450 SEL, 450 SL, 450 SLC: series 107 and 116 models with fuel-injected V8 engines and automatic transmissions. Haynes Service and Repair Manual Series. Sparkford, UK: Haynes. ISBN 0856966983.
- Mercedes S-Klasse, Serie 116, ab 1972: 280S/280SE/350SE/450SE/450/SEL. Reparaturanleitung series, Band 1042. (in German). Zug, Switzerland: Verlag Bucheli. 2012. ISBN 9783716817933.
- Mercedes 280 S / 280 SE / 350 SE / 340 SE / 450 SEL bis Aug 79. Reparaturanleitung series, Band 267/268. (in German). Zug, Switzerland: Verlag Bucheli. 2013. ISBN 9783716813317.
- Mercedes-Benz Technical Companion. Cambridge, MA, USA: Bentley Publishers. 2005. ISBN 978-0-8376-1033-7.
- International M-100 Group — Factory-authorized site with information on all M-100-powered Mercedes-Benz automobiles, (including technical forums and maintenance information). The Brock Yates article can be found here as well
- A Mercedes for the '70s: The W116 Series S-Class — A site mixing the history of the full-scale W116 with that of its many miniature replicas.
- Classic Car driver review
- Golden Brown: Four Days in a Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 – Feature (Car and Driver)