The Mercedes-Benz S-Class: Highlights

Sep 2, 2020

Tradition: The designation “S-Class” was officially introduced in 1972, but the line of ancestors can be traced back unbroken to 1951. Before the Second World War, luxury-segment models had always been an important part of the model range of Mercedes-Benz and its predecessor brands since the start of the 20th century.

The "S": When the model range was expanded to include the 170 S model from the ancestral line of the
E-Class, then Chairman of the Board of Management Wilhelm Haspel shaped the new model designation in 1949 with the S, explaining that the letter stands for “Super” or "Special". Since the 220 S launched in 1956, the designation has been used continuously in the Mercedes-Benz luxury segment.

Perfection in every detail: With every generation of its luxury class cars, Mercedes-Benz gives answers to the wishes and requirements of the respective eras. Every generation of the S-Class and its predecessors made its mark on the automotive development of its time with individual strengths.

Luxury and comfort: Even on long journeys, it is hardly possible to travel more pleasantly than in an S-Class. The car simply enchants – as an overall design and with each of its outstanding features.

Design: Serenity, innovation, sportiness, progressiveness – these are the key attributes that the designers expressively incorporate into the S-Class. Both in the exterior and interior.

Technology trendsetter: The S-Class including its preceding model series has again and again introduced ground-breaking innovations such as the safety body (1959), the anti-lock braking system ABS (1978), the airbag (1981) and the Electronic Stability Programme ESP® (1995) into automotive construction – technologies which are used in (nearly) every new car today.

Spectacular motorsport successes: The 220 SE and the 300 SE models from the “Fintail” W 111/W 112 model series celebrated numerous wins in rallies and road races, such as in the 1960 Monte Carlo Rally and the 1960 Acropolis Rally, the 1961 Algiers/Central Africa Rally, the 1962 Tour d’Europe and Liège–Sofia–Liège Rally and – four times in succession – in the Argentinian Grand Prix for touring cars from 1961 to 1964.

Powerful luxury: The 300 SEL 6.3 from the W 109 luxury model series with its performance on a par with a sports car is regarded as the archetype of the luxurious and comfortable high-performance saloon and thus founded a highly successful tradition which continues to this day.

AMG success story: The spectacular class victory in the 24 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps race with the 300 SEL 6.8 AMG made what was then a young brand from Affalterbach famous overnight and marked the start of a unique development.

Pure performance: S-Class Performance saloons come from Affalterbach. Mercedes-AMG fears no challenge. This was documented for the first time in the history of the S-Class in 1999 by the 220 model series with the S 55 AMG (5.5-litre V8 engine and 265 kW/360 hp output) and, of course, in 2003 with the S 65 AMG (twelve-cylinder engine, 450 kW/612 hp and a full 1,000 newton metres torque).

Sales success: Starting with the model 220 (W 187) from 1951 to the new generation of the 222 model series, a total of around 4 million S-Class saloons have been produced. If you count the coupés and cabriolets as well, the figure is as much as 4.29 million vehicles. Added to that there are a good 25,000 vehicles from the period before 1945.

Record numbers: In just under twelve years, more than 818,000 saloons of the 126 model series launched in 1979 were produced in all. More than 74,000 SEC Coupés derived from the saloon of the 126 model series were built.

Model with highest production figures: A total of 150,593 examples of the Mercedes-Benz 280 SE (116 model series) were produced between 1972 and 1980. There is a good chance that no single S-Class model will ever reach higher production figures – above all because the model range is constantly being expanded and the life-cycles of individual models are becoming shorter, for example as a result of new engines.

China, currently the world’s largest individual market: For ten percent of Chinese buyers of an S-Class, it is the very first car they have ever owned – at an average age of 40 years. Not a bad start to life behind the wheel.