Mercedes-Benz was the undisputed king when it came to building the finest luxury sedan of the 1970s, a decade when the S-class all but owned that segment of the market. Launched in 1972 following six years of intensive development, the W116 range was the safest Mercedes-Benz yet, with a massive strong bodyshell designed to meet tough new Federal Safety Regulations. Boasting more aerodynamic styling, disc brakes all round (ventilated at the front), sophisticated independent suspension at both ends and power-assisted steering, the new S-class was offered with a range of six-cylinder and V8 engines. The initial model line-up of 280SE and 350SE expanded to include the longer wheelbase SEL derivatives in November 1973, followed by more powerful 450SE/SEL models. The 350SE’s M116 V8 engine had a long stroke and exceptionally flat torque curve, endowing the relatively heavy machine with suitably impressive acceleration, while the Bosch fuel injection system kept the engine running reliably. Displacing 3499cc and using a five-bearing crankshaft, the overhead camshaft unit had a 9.5:1 compression ratio and developed a maximum power output of 200 horsepower at 5800 rpm. Although a four-speed manual was available, most 350SEs were sold with the optional automatic transmission with a torque converter. The more expensive 350SE also came with a longer list of standard equipment than its six-cylinder siblings, including radial tyres. Launched to critical acclaim, the W116 won the coveted Car of The Year award for 1973 and sold in unprecedented numbers for such an expensive luxury car, with almost 500,000 made over seven years of production. Today the S-class is a bargain and any specialist will confirm these cars can do impressively high mileages with little more than routine maintenance, whilst affording passive safety and luxury features most similarly priced modern cars can only dream of.