Mercedes-Benz SEL 420
Vehicle Make/Model Specifications:
Make: Mercedes-Benz
Model: SEL 420
Mercedes-Benz SEL 420

The SEL 420 was the first Mercedes-Benz to be fitted with the company's new hydro pneumatic self-leveling suspension system. This was unlike the 600 and the 6.3, which employed air suspensions. The new system was much like the one developed by Citroen in 1955. It used a combination of fluid-filled struts and nitrogen-filled pressure vessels or "accumulators" in place of conventional shock absorbers and springs the system was then pressurized by a hydraulic pump driven by the engine's timing chain. In comparing this to the new Mercedes-Benz system, Citroen's was belt-driven, much like a conventional power steering pump. However, the down side was that failure of the Citroen system thus might mean loss of suspension. In the event of a hydraulic failure on the 6.9 though, every unit was shipped with hard rubber emergency dampers that served as temporary springs and allowed the car to be driven. It did take a little more equipment, as the special hydraulic fluid required by the system was stored in a tank inside the engine compartment. The system was totally self-adjusting and ride height could be altered by a dash-mounted push and pull knob under the speedometer that raised the car an additional two inches. This was a very classy version of hydraulics. Sadly though, the NHTSA considered this feature illegal in the United States market, but simply removing a part at the tank-mounted control valve could enable it. In total, the Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 is a high-performance version of the S-Class luxury sedan. It was built on its own assembly line by Daimler-Benz AG in Stuttgart, Germany and was based on the long-wheelbase version of the W 116 chassis, which was introduced in 1972. To end the confusion, this model was generally referred to in the company's literature as the "6.9", to separate it from the regular 420 SEL.

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