Rare Rides: The Sports/Luxury Mercedes-Benz 6.9 of 1979

Corey Lewis
by Corey Lewis
rare rides the sports luxury mercedes benz 6 9 of 1979

It’s time to check out the flagship of a flagship. What happens when an S-Class is cross-pollinated with the largest V8 engine Mercedes-Benz can offer, then loaded up with cutting-edge automotive tech?

Why, it’s the 6.9.

Built on the W116 platform that debuted for the 1973 model year, the 6.9 was available starting in 1975. It was, in fact, the second time Mercedes-Benz produced a powerful and discreet S-Class. The first time around, the W109 S-Class (300SEL) swapped its standard six-cylinder for the 6.3-liter V8 from the 600 Grosser. An impressive 247 horsepower sent the 6.3 to 62 miles an hour in 6.6 seconds — incredibly impressive for a luxury sedan in 1969. The company wanted more, and Mercedes began work on the 6.9 after the 6.3 wrapped up production in 1972.

The donor 450SEL received considerable upgrades for its transformation into the 6.9. Its V8 was an enlarged version of the 6.3 from the Grosser and 6.3 sedans, now producing 286 horsepower and 405 lb-ft of torque. This made for a top speed of 140 miles per hour — though a porkier curb weight, emissions equipment, and more luxury features meant 0-60 times suffered, rising to 7.1 seconds.

Fuel injection was standard, and the M100 now featured a dry sump which extended oil change intervals to 12,500 miles. Mercedes employed Citroën-developed hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension, considerably more advanced than the Grosser and 6.3’s air suspension. Shock absorbers and springs were replaced by struts and actuators in the Mercedes system. This was all pressurized by a hydraulic pump which ran on the engine’s timing chain. The system allowed for an adjustable ride height (like Citroën), however, this was illegal in the United States because of aggressive legislation, so 6.9s shipped to North America had the adjustment knob deleted. It was for our own good, I’m sure.

The 6.9 was not for the faint of checkbook or the skinflint. When it offered to North America in 1977, it came at a cost of over $40,000. Its austere, non-rococo nature was not what the brougham American was used to. Its asking price compared poorly with a $16,000 Cadillac Fleetwood Seventy-Five, or even a Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow at a slightly more dear $43,200.

Prices only climbed from there, and by the last year of North American importation (1980), the 6.9 sold for $52,995. Unsurprising then, that the 6.9 reached only 1,816 sales in its four years on the North American market. Exclusivity doesn’t come cheap.

Today’s blue beauty is a 1979 model with 46,000 miles on the precise German odometer. Recent work has been done to the suspension and various engine components, as one might expect of a vintage Mercedes. Both the interior and exterior recall a different time of design and indeed quality at Mercedes-Benz — just look at it.

It’s yours for $39,000, and included in the price is more understated luxury than any current Mercedes-Benz offering.

[Images via seller]

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  • ShoogyBee ShoogyBee on Apr 06, 2018

    My old man bought a 1974 450SE in 1980. He was actually looking at Japanese economy sedans at the time, including the Honda Accord (very difficult to buy due to high demand), Subaru GL, Mazda 626, etc. The Subaru dealer also happened to sell Mercedes, BMW, and Volvo. We thought the 450SE was brand new - it was in that good condition. Turns out that it was a used 1974 with 95K miles on its odometer, for not much more than the Japanese cars. He was a physician so he could afford the upkeep and maintenance. He didn't end up keeping it for more than a couple of years. Ended up getting a 1982 Honda Accord sedan, the first model year of the second generation. A few years after that, the Accord was traded in on a 1985 Audi 5000 S.

  • WildcatMatt WildcatMatt on Apr 24, 2018

    My God, that is beautiful.

  • SPPPP It seems like a really nice car that's just still trying to find its customer.
  • MRF 95 T-Bird I owned an 87 Thunderbird aka the second generation aero bird. It was a fine driving comfortable and very reliable car. Quite underrated compared to the GM G-body mid sized coupes since unlike them they had rack and pinion steering and struts on all four wheels plus fuel injection which GM was a bit late to the game on their mid and full sized cars. When I sold it I considered a Mark VII LSC which like many had its trouble prone air suspension deleted and replaced with coils and struts. Instead I went for a MN-12 Thunderbird.
  • SCE to AUX Somebody got the bill of material mixed up and never caught it.Maybe the stud was for a different version (like the 4xe) which might use a different fuel tank.
  • Inside Looking Out Scandinavian design costs only $600? I mean the furniture.
  • Akear Lets be honest, Lucid will not be around in five years. It does not matter that it is probably the world's best EV sedan. Lucid's manufacturing and marketing is a complete mess. The truth is most EV companies are going under within the decade.