International Motor Show in September 1969 in Frankfurt am Main: Mercedes-Benz presented not one, but three luxury vehicles with the new M 116 V8 engine with 3.5 litres of displacement rated to 147 kW (200 hp): the 300 SEL 3.5 (W 109), 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet and 280 SE 3.5 Coupé (W 111). In addition to the legendary C 111 experimental vehicle with a Wankel rotary engine, the “3.5” models were a real highlight of the show. Today, they are amongst the most sought-after variants of these predecessor models to the Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Value appreciation: These vehicles fitted with 3.5-litre engine are coveted vintage cars of the brand, whereby the Cabriolet and Coupé appreciate in value particularly well since some years.
M 116: This was the official company-internal designation of the newly developed 3.5-litre engine. The unit was very successful, having enjoyed an almost 30-year production run and a variety of different output configurations.
Driving excitement on demand: The 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet and 280 SE 3.5 Coupé were available with a four-speed manual transmission in addition to the automatic, an option that appealed to many drivers looking for a sportier feel.
Weight: Both the M 116 and M 117 were comparably lightweight engines. The 4.5-litre engine with a cast-iron block weighed just 250 kilograms, whereas the M 110 six-cylinder unit of the time tipped the scales at 240 kilograms.
The successor: In 1989, the thoroughly modernised M 119 V8 engine featuring two overhead camshafts was introduced and is largely the work of Wente’s staff member Ralf Ohlendorf. The power plant was initially offered with two engine block heights of the M 116 for 4.2 litres and of the M 117 for 5 litres displacement. When the LH-Jetronic system was launched in 1991, a standardised version of the engine was offered based on the lower M 116 engine block.