The vehicles at Mercedes-Benz Classic Insight in October 2017

Oct 19, 2017

Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 (W 08), 1929

The Nürburg 460 made its debut in the autumn of 1928 at the Paris Motor Show as the first series production Mercedes-Benz to feature an eight-cylinder engine. The press praised elasticity and overall comfort of the car. Its model designation “Nürburg” was derived from the Nürburgring circuit, which had been opened just a year earlier. The background to it being given this name comes from a spectacular endurance test at which a 460 model covered some 20,000 kilometres over thirteen days and nights of driving at the Nürburgring. The version produced in the guise of the elegant and luxurious Pullman saloon was one of the most popular variants of the Nürburg model.

Built in the Mercedes-Benz plant in Mannheim, the luxury class model was continually enhanced from outset. In the autumn of 1929 it emerged with a lower frame and even more elegantly designed body.

From the start of 1931, the eight-cylinder model was optionally available with a high-speed transmission which reduced the engine speed at high road speeds, thereby increasing comfort. This optional extra also comprised a larger displacement 5-litre engine.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 (W 08)
Period of production: 1928 to 1933
Cylinders/arrangement: 8/in-line
Displacement: 4,622 cc
Output: 59 kW (80 hp)
Top speed: 100 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 320 Pullman limousine (W 142), 1939

1937 witnessed the debut of a modern luxury touring car in the guise of the Mercedes-Benz 320 (W 142). Its swing-axle chassis with independent wheel suspension provided for safe driving and a comfortable ride. With this model, the brand went new ways in a highly competitive vehicle category, such as with the impressive number of eleven different body styles ex factory.

From 1939, an additional overdrive reduced engine speed and fuel consumption while enhancing travel comfort and efficiency. At the same time, a so-called exterior trunk was also added to the standard scope of equipment for the most spacious variant of this luxury model – the seven-seater Pullman saloon. This trunk was permanently attached to the body’s rear panel, affording protection from wet and dirt for the luggage, which was previously accommodated on an open luggage rack.

From autumn 1938, the 320 was available with a larger, identically powerful 3.4-litre engine.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz Pullman limousine 320 (W 142)
Period of production: 1937 to 1942
Cylinders/arrangement: 6/in-line
Displacement: 3.405 cc
Output: 57 kW (78 hp)
Top speed: 126 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 220 (W 187), 1951

Alongside the spectacular 300 model which was the first Mercedes-Benz representation car of the port-war era, Mercedes-Benz presented a second luxury-segment model at the first Frankfurt International Motor Show in 1951: the 220 model, which also featured a cutting-edge six-cylinder engine. While the more compact, less powerful 220 model (W 187) may not have caused quite as much of a stir as its big brother, it nevertheless proved highly popular among customers.

Its impressive performance moved the trade press to speak of its “sports car credentials”, while the handling characteristics were deemed to match comfort with safety in equal proportions. To match the output of the powerful six-cylinder engine, the 220 came with duplex brakes on the front wheels.

The doors were equipped with conical-pin safety locks to stop them bursting open in an accident. The lush interior also contributed to the popularity of this luxury-segment model.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 220 (W 187)
Period of production: 1951 to 1954
Cylinders/arrangement: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2.195 cc
Output: 59 kW (80 hp)
Top speed: 140 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 220 „Ponton“ (W 180), 1955

Introduced in the spring of 1954, the 220 model, also known internally as the 220 a, was the first Mercedes-Benz six-cylinder model with a unitized body design. Its ultra-modern, spacious ‘ponton’ body, which Mercedes-Benz had presented just six months earlier in the mid-range 180 model, offered previously unheard of levels of comfort.

Safe handling was guaranteed by the single-joint swing axle, which was introduced into series production in the 220 model and at the same time in the new formula 1 racing car W 196 R.

With the launch of the overhauled and more powerful type 220 S (74 kW/100 PS) in 1956, the ‘ S’ designation became a permanent fixture in the names of high-end Mercedes-Benz models, underlining the special status of the ponton six-cylinder.

1958 saw the launch of the 220 SE (W 128, 85 kW/115 PS), an even more powerful version of the flagship model thanks to fuel injection. As with the 300 d (W 189) luxury limousine introduced one year earlier, the vehicle’s performance and efficiency were enhanced by manifold injection.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 220 “Ponton” (W 180)
Period of production: 1954 to 1956
Cylinders/arrangement: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,195 cc
Output: 63 kW (85 hp)
Top speed: 150 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 220 SE “Fintail” (W 111), 1963

The 220, 220 S and 220 SE (W 111) “fintail” models launched in 1959 earned their nickname from the subtle fintails which adorned their rear wings. Yet according to the designer motto “form follows function”, these style elements also had a purpose: they served as a parking aid when reversing and as a result were officially called “marker poles”.

Another innovative feature of this model series proved more important than the fintails, however: the new luxury class generation from Mercedes-Benz was the world's first passenger car to be fitted with a safety body. In the event of an accident, crumple zones at the front and rear absorbed the impact energy, thereby protecting the occupants.

In 1961 the top-of-the-range model was launched in the guise of the 300 SE (W 112). It was fitted as standard with air suspension and the newly developed Mercedes-Benz automatic transmission. In 1963 the 300 SE long-wheelbase variant established the tradition of the Mercedes-Benz long-wheelbase luxury class saloons: the 10 centimetres longer wheelbase provided rear passengers with significantly higher levels of legroom and ride comfort.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 220 SE (W 111)
Period of production: 1959 to 1965
Cylinders/arrangement: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,195 cc
Output: 88 kW (120 hp)
Top speed: 170 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 300 SE rally car (W 112), 1963-1964

As a rally car the Mercedes-Benz 300 SE dominated the long-distance competitions from Argentina to Europe in 1963 and 1964. The victories at the Argentine Touring Car Grand Prix belong to the greatest triumphs of the “fintail-models” – with a quadruple victory in 1963 and a 1-2-3 victory in 1964.

Like all Mercedes-Benz cars used in rallies in this era, the large “fintail” saloons were very closely based on the respective series production vehicles. Daimler-Benz AG highlighted this fact at the time as a selling point for the series production models.

The saloons did undergo modifications, however, according to their intended form of use: measures here included reinforcing chassis elements, enlargement of the fuel tank and adaptation of the engine characteristics, for example with a different fuel injection system or by lowering the compression ratio in the interests of a longer engine life. The transmission and final-drive ratios were also varied.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 300 SE rally car (W 112)
Period of use: 1963/1964
Cylinders/arrangement: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,996 cc
Output: up to 169 kW (230 hp)
Top speed: over 200 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 (W 109), 1969

The W 108 and W 109-series saloons, which replaced the six-cylinder “fintail” models in 1965, were characterised by their timelessly elegant design and generously proportioned windows. In addition to models with conventional steel suspension – internally designated as the 108 series – the model range also comprised the 109 series with air suspension which was available from the start with a wheelbase extended by 10 centimetres.

A special highlight was the 300 SEL 6.3 presented in 1968. The new top-of-the-range model in the series featured the powerful V8 engine from the high-end Mercedes-Benz 600 saloon and provided proud owners not only with the ultimate in comfort and luxurious appointments but also sports car-like performance.

From the autumn of 1969, a smaller V8 engine with a displacement of 3.5 litres and rated at 147 kW (200 hp) was also used in the Mercedes-Benz luxury class models – initially in the 300 SEL 3.5 with air suspension as well as, from the spring of 1971, in the 280 SE 3.5, which like the long version of the 280 SEL 3.5 was also fitted with steel suspension.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 (W 109)
Period of production: 1967 to 1972
Cylinders/arrangement: 8/V
Displacement: 6,332 cc
Output: 184 kW (250 hp)
Top speed: 220 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG (W 109), 1971

At the wheel of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG racing touring car, Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz posted a totally surprising class victory on the very first outing in the 24-Hour Race at Spa–Francorchamps in Belgium on 24 July 1971 and took second place in the overall classification.

The winning car was developed by AMG, founded in 1967 by Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher in Burgstall and at that time only known to insiders. The modified vehicle was based on the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, which, with an output of 184 kW (250 hp), was absolutely unrivalled in its day. Yet AMG made what was at that time Germany's fastest standard-production automobile even more powerful, the displacement being increased from 6332 to 6835 cubic centimetres, while the output from the revised V8 engine rose to 315 kW (428 hp).

The triumph in the race at Spa marked the breakthrough for AMG and was to be followed by further victories. Although the original vehicle from 1971 is no longer in existence, this faithful replica, produced in 2006, impressively illustrates the start of a success story that has endured for 50 years.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG (W 109)
Cylinders/arrangement: V8
Displacement: 6835 cc
Output: 315 kW (428 hp)
Top speed: 265 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 350 SE (model series 116), 1979

In 1972 the luxury-class saloons with which Mercedes-Benz had been setting standards for decades were officially given a name. The new S-Class featured a comprehensive safety concept including a fuel tank fitted over the rear axle and protected against collisions, a four-spoke safety steering wheel, side windows designed to minimise the build-up of dirt, large headlamps, conspicuous indicators and ribbed tail lights also designed to minimise dirt build-up.

In 1975 the flagship model in the series was launched as the powerful and exceptionally comfortable 450 SEL 6.9 with large-displacement V8 engine and hydropneumatic suspension. A production run of 7,380 vehicles made it one of the most exclusive variants of the model series 116, of which a total of 473,035 vehicles were produced.

Since 1978, the S-Class became the world’s first series production vehicle to become available with the ABS anti-lock braking system, designed to help retain steering control even under full brake application. At the time a worldwide sensation, ABS is now standard across the automotive industry.

The 350 SE presented at the Classic Insight was built in 1979 and had ABS fitted – at that time an optional extra which was still very exclusive.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 350 SE (model series 116)
Period of production: 1972 to 1980
Cylinders/arrangement: 8/V
Displacement: 3,499 cc
Output: 151 kW (205 hp)
Top speed: 205 km/h

Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (model series 126), 1990

The 126-series S-Class was introduced in 1979 and impressed with its aerodynamically-enhanced shape and systematic weight reduction through the use of elements such as the new light-alloy V8 engines.

The model series 126 also set the trend in terms of its design: it was the first Mercedes-Benz passenger car to do away with the traditional chrome bumpers in favour of deformable plastic ones built to withstand a ‘parking dent’.

The airbag, now a key component of automotive safety, made its debut in 1981, in the model series 126 which had been launched two years earlier. The driver’s airbag was initially combined with a pyrotechnic belt tensioner for the front passenger. From 1988, Mercedes-Benz also offered its customers a front passenger airbag.

As part of a more extensive facelift in the autumn of 1985, all S-Class models could be optionally fitted with a controlled three-way catalytic converter. At the same time the range was supplemented with the addition of a new flagship model in the guise of the 560 SEL, producing up to 220 kW (300 hp).

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 300 SE (model series 126)
Period of production: 1985 to 1991
Cylinders/arrangement: 6/in-line
Displacement: 2,962 cc
Output: 138 kW (188 hp); with catalytic converter 132 kW (179 hp)
Top speed: 210 km/h (with catalytic converter 205 km/h)

Mercedes-Benz 600 SEL (model series 140), 1992

The S-Class of the model series 140 represented the new superlative at Mercedes-Benz in 1991. Its developers were aiming for maximum comfort, not least due to the larger dimensions and double glazing for optimum acoustic insulation.

The top models, 600 SE and 600 SEL, were the first series production cars at Mercedes-Benz to feature a V12 engine. The entry model was the 300 SD turbo-diesel, which now brought luxury class to the diesel segment in the markets outside of North America too.

This generation of the S-Class also introduced a pioneering safety innovation to the world of automotive engineering: the ESP® Electronic Stability Program which was fitted as standard on the V12 versions and was available as an option on the V8 models from 1995 onwards.

The innovative system reduces the risk of skidding through targeted brake application on individual wheels. In 1996 the BAS Brake Assist system was added, which automatically builds up the maximum brake boosting effect during emergency braking.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz 600 SEL (model series 140)
Period of production: 1991 to 1998
Cylinders/arrangement: 12/V
Displacement: 5,987 cc
Output: 300 kW (408 hp); from September 1992: 290 kW (394 hp)
Top speed: 250 km/h (electronically limited)

Mercedes-Benz S 350 4MATIC (model series 220), 2004

The appearance of the new S-Class (model series 220) in 1998 was all about understatement. Weight saving and a further increase in safety and comfort were among the primary development goals.

Despite having to abandon weight-intensive features such as double glazing, the new model generation offered even greater comfort, not least due to the new electronically controlled AIRMATIC air suspension, COMAND control and display system, and innovative DISTRONIC proximity-controlled cruise control system.

In autumn 2002, the model series 220 saw the introduction of another ground-breaking innovation: the PRE-SAFE® preventive occupant safety system. This system enabled the vehicle to prepare occupants for an imminent collision by automatically initiating measures for their optimum protection.

At the same time as the introduction of the new safety system, the S-Class could now also be equipped with intelligent 4MATIC permanent all-wheel drive for the first time, which also helps to ensure optimum traction in adverse road conditions at all times.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz S 350 4MATIC (model series 220)
Period of production: 2003 to 2005
Cylinders/arrangement: 6/V
Displacement: 3,724 cc
Output: 180 kW (245 hp)
Top speed: 242 km/h

Mercedes-Benz S 500 4MATIC (model series 221), 2013

The S-Class model generation 221 presented in 2005 combined an expressive exterior with a high-grade, luxury interior. The pioneering technical innovations included active Night View Assist, advanced DISTRONIC PLUS proximity control and Brake Assist Plus, which was upgraded to the PRE-SAFE® brake with autonomous partial braking in 2006.

Further assistance systems such as Blind Spot Assist, Lane Keeping Assist and Speed Limit Assist helped to further reduce the strain on the driver and brought the Mercedes-Benz S-Class one step closer to the vision of safe, accident-free driving.

The upgraded generation of the 221 series S-Class model was launched in mid-2009. The S 400 HYBRID was the first luxury Mercedes-Benz model with a hybrid drive and the first series production car with a lithium-ion battery.

The S 500 4MATIC with long wheelbase presented at the Classic Insight is the last series 221 car produced in Sindelfingen. From production, it drove directly into the company’s own collection.

Mercedes-Benz S 500 4MATIC (model series 221)
Period of production: 2006 to 2013
Cylinders/arrangement: 8/V
Displacement: 4,663 cc
Output: 320 kW (435 hp)
Top speed: 250 km/h (electronically limited)

Mercedes-Benz S 560 4MATIC (model series 222), 2017

(Combined fuel consumption: 8.8-8.5 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 200-195 g/km*)

From 2013 onwards, Mercedes-Benz added a future dimension to its continuity, developed over many generations, in the luxury and top-of-the-range class with the S-Class of the 222 model series. One of the innovations was the Intelligent Drive system, which makes motoring safer and more comfortable than ever before. This is the name under which the Stuttgart brand bundles all its interconnected safety and driver assistance systems.

After a facelift, the S-Class of model series 222, unveiled in the summer of 2017, takes a great step towards autonomous driving, with Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC and Active Steering Assist providing the driver with even more convenient assistance while maintaining a distance from the vehicle in front and when steering. For example, the S-Class automatically adjusts its speed when cornering and before junctions or traffic roundabouts.

Intelligent Drive is of modular design. The standard specification in the new S-Class includes Active Brake Assist, Crosswind Assist, ATTENTION ASSIST, Traffic Sign Assist, PRE-SAFE® occupant protection and the new PRE-SAFE® Sound.

Technical data of Mercedes-Benz S 560 4MATIC (model series 222)
(Combined fuel consumption: 8.8-8.5 l/100 km, combined CO2 emissions: 200-195 g/km*)
Production period: from 2017
Cylinders/arrangement: 8/V
Displacement: 3982 cc
Output: 345 kW (469 hp)
Top speed: 250 km/h (electronically limited)