Published on September 23rd, 2019 | by Subhash Nair


40 Years Since the W126 S-Class Debuted

It has been four decades since Mercedes-Benz first debuted the W126 S-Class At the 1979 Frankfurt Motor Show. Most of us are familiar with how the car looks, so we thought we’d share some other fun facts about the W126 from Daimler’s website.

Initial Engine Offerings

The W126 was first offered with the following engines:

  • 2.8-litre inline 6 carbureted petrol M110
  • 2.8-litre inline 6 injected petrol M110
  • 3.8-litre V8 injected petrol M116
  • 5-litre V8 injected petrol M117

The engine selection later expanded to 2.6L, 3.0L, 4.2L, and 5.6L petrols as well as 3.0L and 3.5L diesels.

The W126 was offered in 3 bodystyles:

  • Standard wheelbase sedan
  • Long-wheelbase sedan
  • Coupe

10% more Effecient than its Predecessor

Throughout the development of the new series, methods of reducing energy consumption while increasing driving comfort and safety were at the forefront. The use of weight-reducing materials and optimised aerodynamics helped the new S-Class achieve a ten per cent reduction in fuel consumption compared with its predecessors.

From the 1970s onwards, during the first major oil crisis, the issue of aerodynamics gained considerably in importance. The 126 series was the first Mercedes-Benz production vehicle to be consistently developed and designed with aerodynamics in mind. The result was that, with a cd rating of 0.36 at the end of the 1970s, it already occupied a leading position in its segment by international standards. In the predecessor series 116, the cd rating had been 0.41.

Safer than Your Average Car

In 1981, the driver airbag celebrated its world premiere in the 126 series. Initially, it had been available as an optional extra and offered considerably better protection against injury in the event of a frontal collision in conjunction with the safety belt. From the same year, Mercedes-Benz also offered the seatbelt pretensioner for the front passenger as an optional extra. This system effectively reduced the slack in the seat belt so that it held the person more firmly in the seat in the event of an impending collision. In 1988, the series also saw the world premiere of the passenger airbag when the model was upgraded.

The bodyshell was designed to reflect the latest safety research findings. Thanks to new design principles, the passenger cell was able to withstand an offset crash undamaged – at a collision speed of 55 km/h – although it weighed less than in the 116 series. The 126-series saloons were the world’s first production vehicles to meet the criteria for asymmetric frontal collisions. There were numerous other safety features. For example, there was the electrically adjustable steering column (optional from 1985), the automatic limited-slip differential for the six-cylinder models and acceleration skid control for the V8 models (all optional features from 1985).

Production success

By 1991, a total of 818,036 of these saloons had left the production halls in Sindelfingen within the twelve-year production period. From 1981 to 1991, 74,060 SEC coupés (C 126) were also built. This made the 126 series the most successful luxury class series in the company’s history.

About the Author

Written work on @subhashtag on instagram. Autophiles Malaysia on Youtube.

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