The flagship car is one featuring cutting-edge technology, performance, and aesthetics that will one day power entry-level commuters is everyone’s favorite trickle-down theory. Deep in the 1970s fuel crisis, Mercedes curiously began the practice with a tank of a car accompanied by a bewildering price tag. Even today, the now-infamous 450SEL 6.9 commands a premium over its W116-chassis siblings, but this is one of the cheapest driving examples we’ve seen. Find this 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 in San Francisco, CA for $12,000 via craigslist.
Besides a colossal price tag, the 6.9 was also afflicted with a self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension, not unlike the ones powering Citroens. Just like four-wheel steering (aka 4WS) and bungee cords, it’s only fun when everything works. The seller promises it’s been replaced recently, presumably with Germanic magic beans or some other voodoo, along with the brakes.
Compared to the 450SE’s V8, the 6.9L displaced 2,300 more cubic centimeters and made 60 more horsepower, to 250, lopping off 2.4 seconds on its 0-60 run. But that’s mostly thanks to a taller automatic gearset that didn’t shift into 3rd until 66 mph. You can get away with tall gearing when you have 350 lb-ft of torque, or enough to embarrass most other cars of the fuel crisis era.
This 6.9 badge is the sole evidence of this car’s eminence, and it isn’t even that convincing. Yet its price earns its attention – most drivable 6.9s sell in the upper end of the Daily Turismo range, while show-ready examples crest $40k. This mammoth cruiser is priced and equipped for daily duty, assuming the suspension stays in line.
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