Rare Rides: The Mercedes-Benz SEC AMG of 1986
What happens when a tuning company takes an already luxurious coupe and adds more of everything? The answer is this Mercedes-Benz SEC AMG from 1986.
The now-legendary W126 sedan debuted in late 1979, a successor to the company’s flagship W116 platform. A year later, the S-Class range expanded to include a hardtop coupe.
Unlike its sedan brother, which utilized inline-six engines in addition to V8s, the SEC was strictly of eight cylinders. Original offerings included 3.8- and 5.0-liter displacements for the model’s initial run from 1980 to 1985.
Late in 1985 for the ’86 model year, Mercedes had a rethink of the S-Class. The lineup was refreshed in styling, with more integrated bumpers and exterior trim. The list of engines on offer expanded with more six- and eight-cylinder power.
The revised SEC for the North American market was available with a single engine option for 1986 and onward: Mercedes’ largest V8, the 5.5-liter M117. Badged as the 560 SEC, Mercedes figured it had provided enough power to satisfy American tastes. But AMG had other ideas.
At the time, AMG was independent of Mercedes, creating the modifications they desired. Founded in 1967, AMG remained independent until the Daimler-Chrysler era, when said company purchased a controlling stake in the tuner in 1999. The automaker subsequently became AMG’s sole owner in 2005. But let’s stay in the Eighties where everything is good and nobody has cocaine.
Though AMG offered body kits across the W126 line, they went out of their way a bit for their edits to the SEC. First up was a wide-body kit to make the luxury cruiser much more aggressive, with color-keyed trim, wheels, and badges for the Fine Colombian look. Also fitted were new Recaro seats covered in rich two-tone black and white leather, and a sporty steering wheel replaced the tame factory fare from Mercedes. Then came the power.
Starting with the 5.5-liter M117.968, AMG bored displacement to a full six liters, then swapped the overhead cams for dual ones. This doubled the number of valves from 16 to 32. Torque from the modified engine was more than double that of the factory one, and an impressive 375 horsepower was available underfoot. The original asking price for all this? Undoubtedly ridiculous.
The SEC remained in production through the 1991 model year, when it was replaced by less dignified 500 and 600 SEC models on the C140 platform. Today’s Rare Ride was listed recently on eBay for an unsurprising $125,000, and didn’t sell.
Interested in lots of cars and their various historical contexts. Started writing articles for TTAC in late 2016, when my first posts were QOTDs. From there I started a few new series like Rare Rides, Buy/Drive/Burn, Abandoned History, and most recently Rare Rides Icons. Operating from a home base in Cincinnati, Ohio, a relative auto journalist dead zone. Many of my articles are prompted by something I'll see on social media that sparks my interest and causes me to research. Finding articles and information from the early days of the internet and beyond that covers the little details lost to time: trim packages, color and wheel choices, interior fabrics. Beyond those, I'm fascinated by automotive industry experiments, both failures and successes. Lately I've taken an interest in AI, and generating "what if" type images for car models long dead. Reincarnating a modern Toyota Paseo, Lincoln Mark IX, or Isuzu Trooper through a text prompt is fun. Fun to post them on Twitter too, and watch people overreact. To that end, the social media I use most is Twitter, @CoreyLewis86. I also contribute pieces for Forbes Wheels and Forbes Home.
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