Mercedes-Benz W126 1987

Close your eyes and imagine the ideal executive-class car. What qualities should it possess? If it should be monumental, elite, and slightly ostentatious – like a Buckingham Palace on wheels – you are thinking of Rolls-Royce. If it embodies British aristocracy, refined yet not excessively large – you’re thinking of Bentley. And if you think it should befit an official figure who is busy with work rather than exuding an excessive sense of importance on others – you’re likely envisioning the Mercedes S-Class.

The history of these cars dates back to the 1970s and before you is the second representative of the dynasty with the codename W126. Arab sheikhs, diplomats, and enthusiasts of the brand often consider it the best S-Class and fans of the next, “gangster” generation known as the “stosorokoviye” are ready to argue with them.

The development of the car began almost immediately after the release of its predecessor, the W116 and lasted a whopping 6 years. The new Mercedes had to be the best that came out of German shipyards and set a new standard for the industry as a whole. The development team planned to achieve this by reducing fuel consumption and improving the driving characteristics of the car.

In 1975, Bruno Sacco was appointed as the chief designer of Daimler-Benz. He carved his name in the history of automotive design, earning a place in the “Designers of the Century” list in 1999. He was responsible for controversial models like the W210, popularly known as the “bug-eyed” model, A-Class, M-Class, the iconic W140 and the majestic W100 (Mercedes-Benz 600), but the W126 was arguably his greatest success. Bruno coined the phrase “Mercedes-Benz must always look like a Mercedes-Benz.”

The second generation of the S-Class became the first Mercedes car to undergo wind tunnel testing. You may wonder why this was done for a non-sporty car? It all comes down to noise created by the poorly streamlined body during motion and the unnecessary fuel consumption that needed to be reduced – as the oil crisis was still ongoing. The Germans also actively worked with new materials and metal alloys in an effort to make the weight of the new car lighter than an oil tanker. It must be admitted that they succeeded quite well.

n 1979, the new car started transporting its first high-ranking owners. The new S-Class amazed with its imposing and athletic stature, combined with charisma and striking body curves for its time. The roof was slightly lowered compared to its predecessor, giving the car a visually wider and more flattened appearance. The efforts put into aerodynamics paid off, resulting in a reduced drag coefficient of 0.36. Fuel consumption was also reduced by 10%, which was not only attributed to the new body but also reflected the overall performance of the car. Interestingly, many of its design elements were later recognized in the designs of certain Japanese brands, if you know what I mean.

Externally, it was unmistakably clear that the 80s had arrived: chromed bumpers gave way to deformable polyurethane ones. Many overly flamboyant elements were eliminated from the car’s exterior. The model range included a total of 8 versions, including long-wheelbase models denoted as V126, with the trim level designation often ending with the letter “L” (e.g., SEL). Loved for its German reliability and precision, combined with a sleek appearance, this car became popular among politicians, officials, and other influential individuals.

The interior of the car was simultaneously luxurious and modest. Expensive materials were used, but without excessive chrome adornment. The wood trim was genuine and the leather was made to endure for centuries. This Mercedes was undoubtedly created for long-lasting and extremely comfortable use. The rear seating area, as expected in an executive-class car, was spacious. An additional nice touch was the reading lamps so as not to distract the driver with the upper cabin lighting.

The production of this car continued in Europe until 1991 when the 140 series was introduced, coexisting with the long-wheelbase versions for a certain period. A staggering 818,036 sedans rolled off the production line over the course of 12 years! An unprecedented number for such a high-priced and niche car. To this day, it remains the most successful S-Class and from 1987 to 1990, it was the best-selling car in its class worldwide! Many fondly remember how cars were made in that “golden” age of the automotive industry. The W126 stands as an exemplary model of quality and precision and its timeless design remains relevant. If anyone dares to say that this car is old, they will immediately be reminded that it is an exemplary classic car.

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