Road test drive MercedesBenz 300SEL 6 3 W109 and its successor…

13 Июн 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
Mercedes-Benz W109

Road test drive Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 W109 and its 450SEL 6.9 W116

Which is the hot-rod Benz? It’s picking a favourite child for Buckley . as he compares the two most Stuttgart muscle cars, the SEL 6.3 and 6.9. Because they a Big-Block engine and a certain hot-rod’ sensibility, it has always natural to talk about the 300SEL 6.3 W109 and its successor the 6.9 W116 in the same breath. But you have the opportunity to jump one car to the other, you start to wonder how similar they really Fairly evenly matched the clock in terms of urge, yet the earlier vehicle is as raw and thrilling as the one is suave and accomplished. The thoroughly 6.9 is much more what you of a Mercedes- Benz, whereas the 6.3 like an anomaly, the product of a of happy accidents.

From the 6.3 is remarkably agile for a car of its size; 6.9 loses out to the earlier car in pure but is crushingly competent.

In its defence, AG of Stuttgart has never tried to otherwise. Yet the oft- recounted of development engineer Erich slipping a ‘spare’ 600 engine a ‘spare’ W109 shell in his own rings more hollow every retelling, unless you to believe that a firm run severe, almost military would allow a relatively engineer to get away with a special. The truth about the of the most exciting Mercedes of the is simply that the huge and 600 wasn’t selling in anything the numbers envisaged, and consequently the was looking for ways to amortise costs and use spare production by finding a second home for its V8.

Clockwise: cabin is among the of the ‘classic era’; complex fuel injection; huge bench; ride is soft, plenty of roll; four-speed

Enter, in 1968, the 300SEL 6.3 a sales and image-building success for a company that was beginning to its reputation as king of the autobahn an assault from quick new from BMW and Opel. Based on the suspended long-wheelbase W109 — which had previously had more potent than a straight-six to propel it — the 6.3 had more acceleration than had been available in a saloon enough to humble any 911 of the time and road going Ferraris.

Everyone loved it, particularly the – “Road Track” famously its road test: ‘Merely the sedan in the world. In Europe, the 6.3 was the road transport for half of the at most Formula 1 meetings. was simply nothing else like it.

When production of the 6.3 in 1972, a replacement was eagerly as part of the new W116 S-Class but initially V8 thrills only as far as the 4.5-litre unit in the long-wheelbase with ordinary steel In fact, Mercedes had the 450SEL 6.9 for the market in 1974 but decided to the introduction until May 1975, avoiding the worst of the public fallout from launching a 14mpg boardroom express in the of the fuel crisis.

The W116, its trademark double bumpers and big tail-lights, was stronger but necessarily model-for- model than the old . with greater roll-over and side-impact protection. Apart the badge on the bootlid and the wider the 6.9 was visually identical to the 450SEL and satisfied those who enjoyed the nature of the older car.

But was not of a mind to sanction another hot if the 6.3 had been an uncouth motor car by standards in certain matters, it was immediately evident just by the specification that this new SEL was a thoroughly designed machine, from the start to take the big engine — by then out to 6.9 litres and featuring a dry sump (to the bonnet line low) and tappets. Another significant was a change from frighteningly and expensive mechanical fuel to the all-new, Bosch-designed low-pressure K-Jetronic system.

Power was up from 250 to 286bhp, and on fuel with its 8.8:1 ratio the heftier, higher-geared 6.9 have quite as much as the 6.3, but 0-60mph in 7.3 secs was immensely quick for a car of this Perhaps more importantly, it cruise faster than the car — and it was probably of more academic interest that it had 11mph of top speed in hand. At the 6.9 was pulling just 5000rpm and tests of European-specification cars recorded top speeds of close to To put the 6.9 fully into context, it had comparable performance to a Maserati and could keep in touch uncompromising sports cars as the Lancia Stratos, the Ferrari and the Porsche 911 Carrera.

This new car had to be more than just of course. Additional technical were required to justify the existence and huge price-tag. suspension — something to it an additional dimension of luxury and above the standard 450SEL was the obvious answer, but what couldn’t do was revisit the unreliable system as used on the 6.3. So for the 6.9 the springs were thrown and replaced by gas-filled reservoirs by hoses to damper units. — 2100-2900psi -was by a small accumulator identical in to the spring units and controlled by that were in turn by linkages to the front and rear bars. The gas behaved like a spring, becoming harder the it was compressed, while the amount of oil in the determined the ride height.

was quite proactive in getting FI into 6.9s as road in the days when most of still drove themselves to Tellingly, the 6.9 was the preferred transport of the of Emerson Fittipaldi, Niki Ronnie Peterson and — famously-James Hunt, who had two.

Ian chairman of the Mercedes-Benz Club, can all of the above, however, because he both a 6.3 and a 6.9. He acquired the original silver 450SEL its first owner in 2005, and has the mileage since then to Keers says that the cheapest car to run that he owns but then his other car is a 6.3.

And the 6.3 in question, sold new in Glasgow in came along as a ‘running in 2007, its mid-blue paint in places (it has since had a bare-metal Keers has suffered the usual problems with the air suspension its owner having chased the system replacing ‘O’ rings, air and valves, the 6.3 now retains its ride even when left for long periods.

Of the two I find it the prettier — so simple and the 6.9’s authoritative shape better with every year. The W108/W109 saloons from 1965 are always places to sit, with low window sills and great The 6.3 has a slim, large-diameter plastic wheel and broad seats low backs: somehow your feels vulnerable without the head restraints. In the 6.9, the are more figure- hugging, the wheel almost as big but with a fat and padded rim, the ridges well defined thanks to car’s low mileage. Both have multi-function column but the W116 is a product of the science of with clear views the rational heater controls, large main instruments and the Mercedes light switch the powerful Bosch head- and behind their rectangular

There is a good view out of the but it’s not in the airy league of the the hefty safety pillars of the shell were a portent of the enclosed cabins of today. is much more plastic to be inside the 6.9 compared to the 6.3, and evidence of hand- finishing the optional leather seats but neither car is in the Rolls-Royce class. the Germans have never able to do wood convincingly.

up and on the move, both cars contemptuously effortless acceleration, throttle response and, in a world where 300bhp is in a big luxury car, these Benzes still feel

Warmed up and on the move, both contemptuously effortless pace.

Both are low-revving overall, but huge torque at low speeds for delectable feeling of power to Yet where the 6.3 makes your tingle with giant of Wagnerian thrust, the 6.9 delivers a of restrained excitement with the edges knocked off. not really any slower, it is just refined and makes less about things.

In the earlier gearchanges are well defined they are not smoothed by a torque They aren’t rough, very positive with gears to the 6.9’s three. You can the 6.3 in the lower ratios by pushing the spindly lever forward, pulling the 6.9’s chunky grip back through ‘D’ and ‘S’ ‘Low’ feels more Even under full the 6.9 melds one gear into the with a barely discernible of the rev counter and subdued thunder beyond the bulkhead.

The 6.3 sounds but is understandably noisier in terms of as well as engine din. Not the 450 is perfect: even in the late it was not regarded an outstandingly quiet car for its in terms of either tyre- or noise. What’s more and plays against type, is the earlier car has the softer, more ride, demonstrating how good the air can be — when they

The power-assisted steering of these was perhaps the best to be found in any of their respective eras. The helm feels only woolly and uncertain after you experienced the deft 2.6 turns generous locks (for a turning circle) of the 6.9 which, all W116s, had zero-offset geometry. the modestly talented could retain their dignity in remarkably agile limousine.

a dedicated spotter will out the tiny badge and wider that give away the fist beneath the W116’s exterior.

Not that the 300SEL has an tricky reputation for a 250bhp car with swing- axle suspension. You can corner it very very safely in a state of understeer and never take up too road. The air springs self-level in all the places and compensate for the fact the 6.3-litre V8 is an immense lump of an It was no accident that all of the M100-powered cars needed a form of springing to compensate for the sheer concentrated in the nose, which otherwise have meant an compromise in favour of either or ride on conventional coil

The 6.3 requires more of your than the 6.9 to drive quickly, but feels a more specialist than the later car — is all part of its appeal, and in part the why prices of the few really good are firming up daily. Values are only to Pagoda SLs and 280SE 3.5 in the hierarchy of perceived desirability, and are now getting nut-and-bolt restorations must absorb huge of time and money. You can even get of the bits new from Mercedes, but the would give most heart failure.

Although the 6.9 is probably the best (or at least the practical) of all the M100 Benz it is easily the least appreciated. said, the cult appeal built up around the model its tyre-shredding appearance in John sparingly scripted and ambiguous War thriller Ronin should not be

Even so, it has yet to achieve the status was predicted for it when production in 1980 because it is perceived as as obviously ‘classic’ as the 6.3 nor as conspicuously as the 600. As a consequence, it is not widely just how special and rare car really is. If you merely want a grand, older-looking ‘chrome Mercedes, there are many financially ruinous ways of this ambition than a 450SEL 6.9; the technical are lost on too many people who anyway get frightened off by parts and requirements that are less than the earlier cars but scary — especially if relate to the engine (noisy chains, smoky top-ends, with the ECU) or the suspension These factors tend to the value of any 6.9 that looks less than pristine; to come with a service-history the size of the Magna Carta; or list a famous racing a member of the royalty or God among its keepers.

Other factors, however, certain to secure the 450SEL 6.9 a among the seriously collectable of the near future. For a start, it get rarer as a natural culling sifts out the rusty, poorly examples leaving only the well-brought-up cars to elevate the image.

Secondly, it will into the purchasing orbit of a of wealthy people coming their 40s and 50s — who dreamt owning the ultimate saloon of the when they were But couldn’t get any closer than a sales brochure, a game of Top or — if they were — a rare glimpse of the thing in town traffic or on a fast lane: the well-recalled of seeing the famous digits on side of the bootlid and the silky of dual exhausts.

Potent such as these will minds and wallets, and make the 6.9 the most hotly pursued saloon of its generation — and a alternative to a 6.3 if you can’t afford

The 6.3 had enough acceleration to humble any 911 and road Ferraris.

Clockwise: feels a generation newer; V8 is up to 6.9 litres; optional leather to opulence; few saloons keep up 6.9; auto has three


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