Sunday, October 26, 2014

Found in the Wild: The First Modern Luxury Car

This is it. This was the most expensive Mercedes you could buy in 1980. ABS, automatic climate control, sodium filled valves, self-leveling hydro-pneumatic suspension and a dry sump engine were all standard features on this car. In 1980. Impressed yet? It gets better.




This grungy 1980 Mercedes Benz 450 SEL 6.9 cost some $52,000 when it was new. The most expensive Cadillac you could buy that year was around $16,000. This was a car for people who lived in a manor, not a mansion. 



That $52k bought you 4,200 pounds of luxury car powered by a whopping 6.9 litres of V8. Mercedes' SOHC mill produced 250 horsepower and 360 lb/ft of torque. Yeah your mom's 328i makes more than that but in 1980 A Corvette made just 230 horsepower and had nowhere near that amount of torque. This gave the 6.9 impressive acceleration and a top speed of over 140 mph.



Much like the Rolls Royce Silver Shadow, the mighty 6.9 became a symbol of 'old money.' Like every other German luxury car, the 6.9 depreciated ferociously and you can now find dilapidated ones for a couple thousand all over Kijiji. But running, driving 6.9's are very rare and will set you back an easy 10 grand. 




The 450 SEL 6.9 was a turning point for the luxury car. It proved that luxury cars could be athletic and customers began to demand more for their money in the segment. It might look old fashioned with its upright grill and chrome bumpers, but the 6.9 was the future.  



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