1973 Mercedes-Benz W116 450 SE Petrol from Italy
Unbelievable reliability, high comfort still today, fairly good performance
- Steering box bolts to the body.
- Fuel injector rubber fittings.
Purchased as one of my historic car collection, so not an intensive use: initially 3k km per year; now less than 1k per year.
Absolutely no defects: this is unbelievable for a 30 year old car and 3 owners before myself.
The claimed issues are due to the car's age: fuel injectors' rubber fitting became cracked internally, so very small detached rubber particles block the nozzle in 3 or 4 injectors, leaving only 4 or 5 cylinders working for few minutes, then the engine recovers from the issue (rubber particles milled by the injector pumping or melted by the temperature?) by itself.
The steering box is a well known issue - subject of a recall in the USA - because in the first production years the W116 model did not mount the load limiter to the powerful steering pump: the huge robustness of all the mechanism (from the wheel linkage to the box gear) moves the stress to the only (relative) weak point of the steering - the body shell where the box is mounted. The bolts are stressed to the cut, which could appear years after the stress was received, too. The load limiter was introduced later and no more events like that appeared.
Lots of people make claims about the thirst of this car: we need to take into account that it is a pre-crisis V8, with above average specific power (close to 40 kW per liter, where a standard US car had about 30 kW per liter, for example): riding calm - no more than 80/90 km/h in a poor traffic - implies only 14 liters per 100 km (my best was 7.4 km per liter), while highway at 110/120 km/h requires a bit more, 15 liters per 100 km. Of course, avoid urban traffic, where 20 liters per 100 km is the best possible: in that situation, the huge weight and the torque converter "pumping" waste a lot of petrol, but such a large car is not made for street parking in a town (or - at least - in Italian towns) for several reasons; even if steering is so calibrated that you don't think to drive a near-to-2000 kg car.
Comfort is like a modern car of upper class: a bit of additional noise running at speed on the highway, but it is a good engine roar, not annoying tire noise, which is prevailing in the modern cars. Aerodynamics are fairly good for a 1973 car and door rubbers insulate very well the outside noise. Seats are wonderful: it is sufficient to say that up to the W124 (end of production: 1995), the seats were basically identical.
Performance was good in 1973, and today it's still over the average performance of the traffic, thanks to the automatic transmission and the engine capacity.
As a conclusion: reliable, comfortable, good driving, still more than sufficient performance. Dedicated to anyone that does not need modern entertainment and useless technology.
Would you buy another car from this manufacturer? Don't Know
Review Date: 6th April, 2018