When it came to pure driving comfort, prestige, quality and safety, there was hardly an equal on the market in 1972: The 116 series, designed under the legendary Head of Design Friedrich Geiger, had brought a whole range of technical innovations on board and remained one of the role models to look up to for active and passive safety for many years to come, eventually becoming the benchmark for the premium segment of the automotive industry. The integral safety features belonging to the 116 included, for example, the collision-protected fuel tank, the four-spoke safety steering wheel, and horizontally arranged light units, as well as rear lights profiled to be both eye-catching and dirt-repellent at the same time.
The entry-level model was the 280 S (with a six-cylinder engine and 160 PS), followed by the 280 SE (fuel-injected engine with 185 PS), the 350 SE (V8 and 200 PS) and the 450 SE (V8 and 225 PS), each also being sold in their long versions 280 SEL/350 SEL/450 SEL. The 300 SD (from 1978, 111 PS), which at the time was not available in Germany but only in Canada and the USA, not only introduced the first turbo diesel engine to the luxury saloon segment, but was also one of the first series production cars to feature this drive.
The very pinnacle of the series, however, was the 450 SEL 6.9 (V8, 286 PS, from 0 to 100 in a sporty 7.4 seconds, top speed 225 km/h). Prominent owners of the flagship model, of which a total of 7,380 were built between the years 1975 and 1979, included Hollywood icons and Oscar winners, star conductors, football world champions and royal families. An S-Class 116 featured in a spectacular car chase in the movie “For Your Eyes Only”, starring Roger Moore as James Bond. Other models of the saloon formed part of the fleet of the main characters in several worldwide blockbuster cult TV series, including “Dallas” and “Derrick”.
The S-Class was also available with the anti-lock braking system (ABS) from 1978, keeping steering active even during emergency braking. A global sensation at the time, ABS remains an automotive standard to this day. In all, 473,035 S-Class 116 vehicles were produced up until 1980. Many 116s are still driving on the roads of the world today – a testament to its longevity and quality.