German “H” registration plate for 560SE from 2018.

Three decades ago, a exclusive Mercedes-Benz model celebrated his premiere: The 560SE (126 series) combined the top performance of the flagship S-Class model with the more dynamic handling of the shorter wheelbase. Next year the first examples of this model will be 30 years old. Which make him eligible for the coveted “H” registration plate. This is itself celebrating its 20th birthday in 2017: it was first issued in the Federal Republic of Germany in 1997.

A rare classic this 560SE.

Stuttgart. All in all, after the 560 SE celebrated his premiere at the Paris Motor Show in September 1988: Just 1252 units of the Mercedes-Benz 560 SE were produced between 1988 and 1991. That makes this short-wheelbase version of the S-Class a much rarer classic than its sister model, the 560 SEL (75,071 units).

The top S-Class model celebrated its premiere at the International Motor Show (IAA) in Frankfurt/Main in September 1985. The 560 SEL is “quite simply the largest, fastest and best equipped passenger car currently produced by Daimler-Benz,” wrote the motoring magazine “auto motor und sport” in edition 19/1987. So was it not only logical to make this sporty, luxurious performance available in a model with a short wheelbase as well (2930 rather than 3070 millimetres)? Precisely that was achieved by the Mercedes-Benz 560 SE presented in 1988, which was likewise powered by a V8 engine with a displacement of 5547 cc and developed 220 kW(300 hp) at 5000 rpm. With the emissions control system using a three-way catalytic converter (standard equipment in Germany), the output was 205 kW (279 hp) at 5200 rpm.

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