Which four-door saloon boasts 286 bhp and 405 lb/ft of torque from its 7-litre V8 engine? Must be German you think? Correct. An M5 BMW perhaps, or maybe one of those crazy AMG Mercedes-Benz? Wrong, this car was launched in 1975. That's right, in the midst of a fuel crisis, when performance was a dirty word and muscle cars like the Falcon GTs were disappearing from showrooms one by one. The Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 - to give the car its full title - was unquestionably the greatest family car of the era and remains a massively competent machine today. By installing a bored-out version of the M100 V8 engine in the standard 450SEL - already crowned Car of the Year and regarded as the pre-eminent luxury saloon of the day - Stuttgart's engineers added supercar crushing performance to the W116s long list of attributes. With self-levelling hydro-pneumatic suspension, dry-sump lubrication and Bosch K-Jetronic fuel injection, the 6.9 was not only fast but handled and rode superbly - ask anyone familiar with the chase scene involving Robert De Niro in the cult movie Ronin. Of course, the Mercedes-Benz came with every conceivable luxury item available, featuring a classy mix of leather and high quality timbers. Costing twice the price of a standard 450, the 6.9 was built in tiny numbers - just 7,380 were made - and found favour with Formula One drivers like James Hunt, in addition to the usual business tycoons and Heads of State.
2010 Shannons Melbourne Classic Auction