The second-generation Mercedes Benz S-Class was introduced through the W126 line, which succeeded the W116. When Mercedes Benz came out with the successor to the first S-Class lineup, the German automaker made sure that it would have enhanced features and performance. The W126 wasn’t only more powerful; it also had better aerodynamics and fuel efficiency. It initially came equipped with a straight-6, V8, and turbo diesel for its various models. The S-Class lineup was also known for its safety innovations such as the first seatbelt tensioners. It came out with a new design at that time, which was incorporated in other vehicle themes. Produced between 1979 and 1991, the W126’s 12-year stint made it the longest-lived S-Class generation since flagship models were first released in the ‘50s. Under its lineup were several models, including the Mercedes Benz 500SEC, a coupe version of the W126 S-Class.
1979: The W126 S-Class finally arrived
The W126 design was conceptualized as early as 1972. Project W126’s mission was to ensure that the German automaker would still have the best luxury car series in the world for the next decade. It took about six years of hard work and research until Mercedes Benz finally came up with a saloon range known as the W126. This new-generation S-Class was launched in 1979. The lineup eventually included coupes in 1981, two years since the W126 was launched.
The W126 S-Class came with new and improved styling and better technologies. It was best known for its impressive aerodynamic efficiency (0.36 Cd), which was a new record in the late 1970s. It was also equipped with ABS and SRS Airbag systems. The looks of the saloon and coupe combined elegance with strong road presence, which became the benchmark for future Mercedes Benz designs and also influenced the style of vehicles from other automakers. With a well thought of design, the W126 S-Class had been highly recognized as a fine range of luxury vehicles in the world. Sales reached more than 890,000 globally, and production lasted until 1991.
1981: The launching of the Mercedes Benz 500SEC model, coupe version of the W126
It was in 1981 when the W126’s coupe version was unveiled at the IAA. The 500SEC joined other models under the W126 series, which initially included the 280, 300, 380, and 500 models (according to engine size). When the W126 series was refreshed, 260, 300, 350, 420, 500, and 560 models were added to the lineup. SE (standard wheelbase), SEL (long wheelbase), SEC (coupe), and diesel models (SD /SDL) were variants under this range.
Around 30,184 Mercedes Benz 500SEC models were manufactured until 1991. The coupe was equipped with an M117 5L V8 engine. Like other W126 models, the 500SEC combined luxury with a good ensemble of comfort, safety, and technological features. Its appeal not only came from its harmonious design but also from its reliability and durability. It was these which made the Mercedes Benz 500SEC stay in the market for a long time.