Friday, September 4, 2015

Garage Preview: The Mercedes-Benz S-Class Convertible Returns After Four Decades






The last time the S-Class convertible was apart of the line up was in the early 70s. The S-Class convertible is slated to return to the U. S. in 2016. The S-Class convertible will be outfitted with a 449-horsepower V8 engine. The displacement stands at 4663 cc, and the engine produces peak torque of 516 lb-ft from 1800 rpm. The innovative 9G-TRONIC 9-speed automatic transmission supports both a dynamic and a fuel-saving driving style.

The S-Class convertible is fitted with standard AIRMATIC semi-active air suspension that features infinitely variable damping control. This system sets standards with respect to road roar and handling stability. It can be set to a sportier or more comfort-oriented mode, according to personal tastes. The four-link front axle impresses with a high level of driving comfort, plus precise suspension action.

Like the S-Class Sedan and Coupe, the new convertible is available with numerous new assistance systems that make driving even more comfortable and safer. Intelligent Drive systems include PRE-SAFE Brake with pedestrian detection, DISTRONIC PLUS with Steering Assist, Brake Assist BAS PLUS with Cross‑Traffic Assist, Active Lane Keeping Assist, Adaptive Highbeam Assist Plus and Night View Assist Plus.

In addition to a distance and collision warning function in conjunction with Adaptive Brake Assist, which offers collision protection from speeds as low as 5 mph, the standard COLLISION PREVENTION ASSIST PLUS system also features an additional function: when a danger of collision persists and the driver fails to respond, the system is able to carry out autonomous braking at speeds of up to 65 mph, thereby reducing the severity of collisions with slower or stopping vehicles. At speeds of up to 31 mph the system also brakes in response to stationary vehicles, and is able to prevent rear-end collisions at up to around 25 mph.

The PRE-SAFE preventive occupant protection system has been upgraded to PRE‑SAFE PLUS. PRE-SAFE PLUS can recognize an imminent rear-end collision and warn following traffic by flashing the rear hazard warning lights at a high frequency. When a danger of collision persists, the system can "lock" the brakes of the stationary vehicle prior to a rear-end collision and activate the PRE-SAFE® belt tensioners immediately before impact. This action minimizes the risk of whiplash injury by reducing the forward jolt caused by the impact and ensuring that the occupants are in the best possible position.

Standard-fit roll over protection system: Fully pyrotechnic

On detecting an impending danger of the vehicle rolling over, the airbag control unit sends a corresponding signal to the roll over protection system. This is quickly extended behind the rear head restraints, helping to maintain a safe passenger compartment. The roll bars are extended not by spring force, but – for the first time on a Mercedes-Benz – by pyrotechnical means, using a gas generator.

This is made possible by state-of-the-art yaw rate sensors which, in contrast to the previously employed tilting cone sensors, virtually rule out incorrect actuation. In keeping with the S-Class convertible high design quality, there are no tear lines in the panelling behind the rear head restraints.

Heritage: coveted dream cars of the 1960s

The new S-Class Cabriolet is carrying the long and successful tradition of Mercedes-Benz luxury-segment cabriolets into the future. Even back in the 1920s the luxury cabriolets from Stuttgart combined the freedom of open-top motoring with the comfort and safety of a Mercedes-Benz Sedan. From the start of post-war production the top models from Mercedes-Benz were also available in the particularly exclusive variant as a cabriolet. These included the 170 S (W 136) from 1949, the 220 (W 187) from 1951 and the 300 S (W 188) from 1952.
After the "Ponton" cabriolets 220 S (W 180) and 220 SE (W 128) built from 1956 to 1960, in 1961 the 220 SE Cabriolet of the model series W 111 was launched, a particularly elegant, open-top four-seater, whose design is still considered timeless to this day.

In this ten-year production period Mercedes-Benz offered five different models in these model series: the 220 SE, 250 SE, 300 SE (W 112), 280 SE and, as a late top model, the eight-cylinder 280 SE 3.5 – in total 7,013 units of these five convertible were manufactured in Sindelfingen. For the time being there was no open-top luxury-segment car in the Mercedes-Benz model range to follow this generation: rather, it is the new SL from model series 107 from 1971 onwards which cultivated the tradition of open-top motoring in the Stuttgart brand's cars – as a two-seater.

The convertible from Mercedes-Benz are today amongst the most sought-after classic cars - and the prices have developed accordingly. For instance, values of convertibles from the 111 model series, with are cited by the renowned American Hagerty Insurance's price guide. In its estimation a 280 SE 3.5 from the final year of construction, 1971, in condition 2 today has a value of around $290,000 USD - ten years ago the figure was some $115,000 USD. But that is by no means the pinnacle: for instance, a specimen of this model in excellent condition was auctioned last August by RM Auctions for $429,000 USD.

The last six-cylinder 280 SE model (1969) in the same condition is valued today by Hagerty at approx. $75,000 USD - about $45,000 USD ten years ago. Early 220 SE models are around the same level, with a current value of some $84,000 USD.


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