The Mercedes-Benz W116 was a series of flagship vehicles produced from September 1972[1] through 1979. The W116 automobiles were the first Mercedes-Benz models to be officially called S-Class, although earlier sedan models had already unofficially been designated with the letter 'S' - for Sonderklasse or "special class."

The 'new' S-class generation development began in 1966, which was only a year after the launch of the W108/09. This was the first Mercedes saloon to feature the brand new corporate styling theme which was to be continued until 1993 when the 190 was discontinued. The design was a dramatic leap forward, with more masculine lines that combined to create an elegant and sporty character. The basic design concept was actually inspired from the R107 SL-Class roadster, especially the front and rear lights.[edit] History

The car was presented in September 1972. The model range initially included two versions of the M110 engine (Straight-6 with 2746 cc of displacement) - the 280S (using a Solex carburetor) and the 280SE (using Bosch D-Jetronic injection), plus the 350 SE, powered by the M116 engine (V8 with 3499cc of displacement). Half a year later two new models powered by the M117 engine (V8 with 4520cc of displacement) were added to the range - the 450SE and the 450SEL (with a 10cm longer body).

The most notable W116 was the high-performance, limited-production 450 SEL 6.9, which was introduced in 1975, and became the first production car to use an electronic 4-wheel multi-channel anti-lock braking system (ABS) as an option from 1978 on. This model boasted the largest engine installed in a post-war Mercedes-Benz up to that time, and also featured self-leveling hydropneumatic suspension.

The 300 SD sedan (USA and Canada only) had a turbocharged 3.0 L I5 diesel engine developed from the record breaking C111 experimental vehicle.

The 450SEL was named the European Car of the Year in 1974.

Production totaled 473,035 units. The W116 was succeeded by the W126 S-Class in 1979. The W116 was sold throughout Europe, the Americas, Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and Australia.


The entry level six cylinder 280S was the only model in the range to incorporate a carburetor.

In 1975, the W116 was upgraded with a new fuel injection system to comply with revised exhaust emission standards in European markets. A slight power reduction was a result of this update. In 1978, a series of engine upgrades restored original performance levels with new fuel injection systems.

Chassis codeModel YearsModelEngineNo. built[2]
W116.020 1973–1980 280 S sedan 2.8 L M110 I6 122,848
W116.024 1973–1980 280 SE sedan 2.8 L M110 I6 150,593
W116.025 1974–1980 280 SEL sedan 2.8 L M110 I6 7,032
W116.028 1973–1980 350 SE sedan 3.5 L M116 V8 51,100
W116.029 1973–1980 350 SEL sedan 3.5 L M116 V8 4,266
W116.032 1973–1980 450 SE sedan 4.5 L M117 V8 41,604
W116.033 1973–1980 450 SEL sedan 4.5 L M117 V8 59,578
W116.036 1975–1980 450 SEL 6.9 6.9 L M100 V8 7,380
W116.120 1978–1980 300 SD sedan 3.0 L OM617 I5 turbodiesel
(USA and Canada only)

Technical data


1975–1980 Mercedes-Benz 280 SEL (Australia)
Interior of the W116 6.9

The W116 S-Class incorporated a broad variety of Mercedes-Benz safety innovations.[5]

  • Anti-lock brakes were first featured on the W116 S-Class. This system prevents the wheels from locking while braking. The system improves steering control during hard braking situations, and to shorten brake distances.
  • Strengthened body structure. The W116 featured a more stable security passenger cell with a stiffened roof frame structure. High strength roof and door pillars, along with other reinforced zones, provided enhanced vehicle occupant protection.
  • A padded dashboard, deformable switches and controls, and a four-spoke steering wheel with impact absorber and broad impact cushion aimed to reduce occupant injury during collisions.
  • The fuel tank was no longer fitted at the rear end, but was now placed above the rear axle for added protection.
  • Wraparound turn signals made it easier to communicate with nearby drivers.

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