Back To The 80s: Mercedes-Benz S-Class

Sun 3rd Nov 2019

When we think of the classic eras of motoring we might cast our mind back to stylish cars of the 1950s, the muscle cars of the 1960s or the super cars of the 1970s. What might not spring to mind however is the motors which were produced in the 1980s - an era which certainly favoured practicality over power, style and sophistication.

But the cars of today owe much to 80s, it was a decade which brought us turbochargers, multi-valve engines and hot hatchbacks, an era of the people-carrier and the rise of the SUV. Digital displays and electronic gadgetry, were the norm as designers pushed the boundaries of of what was capable in a production vehicle.

So let's celebrate the 80s, a period of huge change across Britain as a whole, and one which had incredible landmarks in the motor industry.

Mercedes-Benz S-Class
While the S-Class had become synonymous with high-end luxury saloon design, the second generation W126 which was produced between 1980 and 1991 brought some innovative features to mainstream production engineering.

Mercedes had patented the driver airbag way back in 1971, and many America car owners could have one installed as an optional extra, but it wasn’t until the launch of the W126 that they became standard in all S-Class vehicles. It was a huge leap by the German car giant, and one which took the industry unawares, even by 1991, many other European manufacturers were not installing airbags.

The S-Class of the 80s also included other safety elements such as seat-belt pretensioners, traction control, and new design principles which improved the safety of the passenger compartment to ensure it could withstand so-called ‘offset crashes’.

But befitting a car which was aimed at the top end of the market, the S-Class also included additional elements of interior luxury, including reading lamps, heated seats and an advanced climate control system.

On a performance scale, this saloon boasted some of the best in aerodynamics, its wedge-shape pointed to a sleekness which was aided by windscreen wipers hidden under the bonnet and even tiny aerofoils on the door handles - making the S-Class the most aerodynamic production car for a short period.

A favourite of the extremely rich, diplomats and the famous celebrities of the 80s, the S-Class had very little depreciation. There were a host of awards including Car of the Year in 1981, Safest Passenger Car of the Year in 1988 and 1989, Best Luxury Car and also topping the JD Power Sales Satisfaction Index from 1987 to 1990.

Manufacturer: Mercedes-Benz

Class: Full-Size Luxury Car

Assembly: Sindelfingen, Germany

Did You Know?: The S-Class was first built in 1972 and was initially known as the Sonderklasse, which means ‘Special Class’ in German.