Mercedes Benz Heritage: The highlights of the S-Class and its predecessors

Mercedes-Benz 220 SE

The Mercedes-Benz S-Class and its predecessors have always stood for innovative automotive engineering. Over the years, they have continually brought new features to the market which have then found widespread acceptance. Here is a brief overview of the special features in each model series.

Mercedes-Benz 770 Grand Mercedes

Mercedes Simplex 60 hp (1903 to 1905)

  • State-of-the-art high-performance engine: large-displacement four-cylinder unit with overhead intake valves
  • Highly efficient honeycomb radiator
  • Long wheelbase and low centre of gravity

Mercedes-Benz Nürburg, W 08 (1928 to 1933)

  • First series production Mercedes-Benz car with an eight-cylinder engine
  • Luxurious and spacious Pullman body
  • Overdrive transmission as an option (from 1931, in conjunction with increased displacement)

Mercedes-Benz 770 "Grand Mercedes", W 07 and W 150 (1930 to 1943)

  • First series production Mercedes-Benz car with an eight-cylinder supercharged engine
  • Dual ignition system with two spark plugs per cylinder (high-voltage magneto ignition and battery ignition)
  • Overdrive transmission (five-speed manual transmission from 1938)
  • Oval tubular box frame (from 1938)
  • De Dion rear axle (from 1938)

Mercedes-Benz 320, W 142 (1937 to 1942)

  • Smooth-running six-cylinder engine
  • All-synchromesh four-speed transmission, with remote action gear from 1939
  • Wide range of bodies: saloon, Pullman saloon (with exterior case from 1939), streamlined saloon, several cabriolets

Mercedes-Benz 300, W 186 and W 189 (1951 to 1962)

  • Sophisticated six-cylinder engine with overhead camshaft
  • Manually-controlled intake manifold fuel injection (from 1957)
  • Patented safety conical-pin locks prevent doors from springing open in an accident
  • Electrically-operated torsion bar suspension to compensate the height of the rear wheels under heavy loads
  • Heating with blower(s) as standard
  • Air conditioning as an option (from 1958)
  • Power-assisted steering as an option (from 1958)

Mercedes-Benz 220, W 187 (1951 to 1954)

  • Sophisticated six-cylinder engine with overhead camshaft
  • Patented safety conical-pin locks prevent doors from springing open in an accident
  • Heater with blower as optional equipment

Mercedes-Benz 220 a/220 S/220 SE, W 180/W 128 (1954 to 1959)

  • Integral body construction
  • Improved spaciousness and comfort thanks to modern unitary structure
  • Front suspension subframe
  • Single-link swing axle with low centre of gravity
  • Brake drums with "turbocooling"
  • Separately adjustable heater and blower as standard for driver and front passenger
  • "Hydrak" automatic hydraulic clutch as an option (from 1957)
  • Manually-controlled intake manifold fuel injection (220 SE, from 1958)

Mercedes-Benz 220 b to 300 SE/300 SE long, W 111/W 112 (1959 to 1965)

  • Safety passenger compartment with crumple zones (front and rear)
  • Padded steering wheel and interior appointments designed so as to reduce injury hazards in accidents
  • Conical-pin door lock with two safety catches
  • Disc brakes (300 SE, from 1961)
  • Dual-circuit braking system (from 1963)
  • Four-speed automatic transmission (from 1961)
  • Air suspension (300 SE, from 1961)
  • Long-wheelbase version available (300 SE, from 1963)
  • Central locking system as an option (300 SE long-wheelbase)

Mercedes-Benz 600, W 100 (1963 to 1981)

  • Powerful, large-displacement V8 engine
  • Four-speed automatic transmission
  • Dual-circuit braking system with disc brakes
  • Air suspension
  • Power steering
  • Central hydraulic system for seat adjustment, opening and closing doors, windows and luggage compartment
  • Electronically-controlled heating and ventilation system

Mercedes-Benz 250 S to 300 SEL 6.3, W 108/W 109 (1965 to 1972)

  • Safety steering system (from 1967)
  • Hydropneumatic compensator spring at the rear axle
  • Air suspension (300 SEL, 300 SEL 6.3, 300 SEL 3.5)
  • Top-of-the-range 300 SEL 6.3 model with an output of 250 hp (184 kW), powerful V8 engine and sports car performance (from 1968)

Mercedes-Benz S-Class model series 116 (1972 to 1980)

  • Officially known as the "S-Class" for the first time
  • Integral safety concept
    • Four-spoke safety steering wheel
    • Tank above rear axle to protect it from collisions
    • Safety door handles
    • Generously sized headlamps and turn signal lamps
    • Tail lights with anti-soiling design
    • Side windows with anti-soiling measures
  • ABS (anti-lock braking system) as an option (from 1978)
  • Cruise control as an option (from 1975)
  • Double wishbone front axle with zero scrub radius
  • Coupled-link axle with anti-squat control (450 SE, 450 SEL, 450 SEL 6.9)
  • Automatic transmission with torque converter as an option (standard for 450 SE, 450 SEL, 450 SEL 6.9)
  • Hydropneumatic suspension with level control (450 SEL 6.9, from 1975)
  • First luxury class saloon with a diesel engine, first series production passenger car with a turbo-diesel engine (300 SD, from 1978)

Mercedes-Benz S-Class model series 126 (1979 to 1991)

  • Bodyshell with fork-arm structure, the world's first series production car to fulfil the criterion of the asymmetric head-on collision (offset crash)
  • Low drag coefficient cd = 0.37
  • New V8 engines with light-alloy block
  • Closed-loop catalytic converter as an option (from 1985) or as standard (from 1986)
  • Electrically adjustable steering column as an option (from 1985)
  • Driver airbag and belt tensioner for front passenger as an option (from 1981)
  • Front passenger airbag (from 1988)
  • Automatic locking differential as an option for the six-cylinder models (from 1985)
  • ASR (acceleration skid control) as an option for V8‑ models (from 1985)
  • The most successful high-end, luxury Mercedes-Benz Saloon

Mercedes-Benz S-Class model series 140 (1991 to 1998)

  • Petrol engines with four valves per cylinder and variably adjustable intake camshafts
  • First Mercedes-Benz series production car with a twelve-cylinder engine, the brand's most powerful passenger car engine up to that point (600 SE, 600 SEL)
  • Premium-class diesel 300 SD available for the first time on the world markets
  • Systematically designed for a high level of recyclability
  • Total avoidance of chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs)
  • Electronically controlled five-speed automatic transmission (standard for V8 and V12 models, from 1995)
  • Speed-sensitive power steering
  • Double-glazed side windows for maximum noise comfort
  • Automatic climate control with activated charcoal filter and CO/NOX-sensitive sensors as standard (S 600) or as an option
  • Electrically folding exterior mirrors
  • Power closing for doors and boot lid as an option
  • Headlamps with variable-focus reflectors
  • Electronics linking via CAN bus
  • Seat belts with automatic height adjustment
  • Sidebags for driver and front passenger (from 1996)
  • Adaptive Damping System ADS as an option
  • Electronic Stability Program ESP® as standard (S 600, from 1995) or as an option (S 420, S 500, from 1995)
  • Brake Assist BAS (from 1996)
  • PARKTRONIC electronic parking aid as standard (S 600, from 1995) or as an option (from 1995)
  • Auto-Pilot-System APS navigation system as an option (from 1995)
  • TELE-AID emergency call system as an option (from 1997)
  • LINGUATRONIC voice-operated control system as an option (from 1996)
  • Xenon headlamps with dynamic headlamp range control as an option (from 1996)

Mercedes-Benz S-Class model series 220 (1998 to 2005)

  • Lightweight body with weight-reducing materials mix (high-tensile steel, light alloy, plastic)
  • Aluminium crash boxes in the front end and rear structure
  • Drag coefficient cd = 0.27
  • Automatic cylinder cut-out system as standard (S 600) or as an option (S 500)
  • 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission with electronic control (S 430, S 500, from 2004)
  • AIRMATIC air suspension with electronically controlled Adaptive Damping System
  • Active Body Control suspension as an option (standard for S 600)
  • Additional turn signal lamps integrated into the exterior mirrors
  • Automatic headlamp mode
  • COMAND control and display system with dynamic navigation as an option
  • Windowbags
  • Rear sidebags
  • Passenger-side airbag with two-stage gas generator
  • Belt tensioners and belt force limiters in the rear
  • Laminated glass side windows
  • Multi-zone automatic climate control with individual control at each seat depending on the sun's position
  • Luxury seats with ventilation and dynamic multicontour backrest as an option
  • DISTRONIC adaptive cruise control as an option
  • KEYLESS-GO access and drive authorisation system‑ as an option
  • Bi-xenon headlamps with dynamic headlamp range control as an option (from 2002, standard on the S 600)
  • PRE-SAFE® anticipatory occupant protection‑ system (from 2002)
  • V8 diesel engine with light-alloy block (S 400 CDI)
  • 4MATIC all-wheel drive as an option (S 430, S 500, from 2002)

Mercedes-Benz S-Class model series 221 (2005 to 2013)

  • Drag coefficient cd = 0.26
  • First car with an Environmental Certificate
  • 7G-TRONIC seven-speed automatic transmission with electronic control and DIRECT SELECT steering wheel gearshift
  • Active Body Control with crosswind stabilisation as an option (standard for S 600)
  • ADAPTIVE BRAKE system
  • Adaptive brake lights
  • Brake Assist Plus as an option
  • Further development of DISTRONIC PLUS adaptive cruise control (with braking to standstill) as an option
  • PRE-SAFE® Brake with autonomous partial braking (from 2006) or autonomous emergency braking (from 2009) as an option
  • Advanced COMAND system with Controller on the central tunnel
  • SPLITVIEW display as an option (from 2009)
  • Parking Assist as an option
  • Panoramic tilting/sliding sunroof as an option
  • Active Night View Assist as an option
  • Blind Spot Assist as an option (from 2007, Active Blind Spot Assist from 2010)
  • Lane Keeping Assist as an option (from 2009, Active Lane Keeping Assist from 2010)
  • Adaptive Highbeam Assist as an option (from 2009)
  • Speed Limit Assist as an option (from 2009)
  • First luxury class vehicle with hybrid drive and lithium-ion battery (S 400 HYBRID, from 2009)
  • First S-Class with a four-cylinder engine (S 250 CDI, from 2010)

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