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Langslopende S-klas vier veertig jaar

Deur Daantjie Badenhorst.


Dwarsdeur die 1980’s was daar een motor wat die standaard in luuksheid gestel het en wat ‘n droomvoertuig vir baie mense was.

Die Mercedes-Benz S-klas is in 1972 vir die eerste keer as ‘n afsonderlike model-reeks bekendgestel en in 1979 is die tweede S-klas, met die model-kode W 126, internasionaal bekendgestel. Die ontwerp was in baie opsigte radikaal; dit was die eerste Mercedes-Benz wat nie met chroomstampers toegerus was nie, aërodinamies doeltreffende wieldoppe was standaard toerusting en daar was breë skermstroke onder aan die motor.  Die W 126 was ook beskikbaar met ABS-remme, wat toe nog ‘n nuwigheid was, terwyl lugsakke in sommige lande opsioneel beskikbaar was. Die internasionale reeks het aanvanklik bestaan uit die 280 S, die 280 SE en twee nuwe modelle, die 380 SE wat die 350 SE vervang het en die 500 SE , wat die 450 SE se plek ingeneem het. Die 450 SE 6,9 wat deel van die W 116-reeks was, is nie vervang nie. In 1980 is SEL-weergawes van hierdie modelle met langer asafstande bygevoeg terwyl ‘n 300 SD, met die 300 D se diesel enjin slegs in die Verenigde State van Amerika beskikbaar was.


Suid-Afrika moes tot April 1981 wag voordat die S-klas in Suid-Afrika bekendgestel is en soos gewoonlik op daardie stadium is hy in Suid-Afrika vervaardig. Die nadeel was dat die reeks beperk is tot die 280 SE en die 380 SE. Die vergasser weergawe van die W 123 280 is in elk geval kort tevore aan die Suid-Afrikaanse mark onttrek en Mercedes-Benz Suid-Afrika het nie dieselfde vlagskip as in die res van die wêreld bekendgestel nie, wat beteken het dat Suid-Afrika die 500 SE en die SEL-modelle misgeloop het. By die Frankfurt-motorskou in September daardie jaar is die koepee-weergawe, bekend as die SEC, by die reeks gevoeg. Die SEC het die SLC-koepee vervang terwyl die SL op die mark gebly het maar mettertyd nuwe enjins gekry het. Die SEC is ook as ‘n luukse toermotor eerder as ‘n sportiewe koepee bemark. Toe die SEC in Suid-Afrika bekendgestel is, was net die 380 beskikbaar.

Die hele reeks is in 1985 hersien met nuwe enjins en nuut ontwerpte skermstroke. Daar was ook nuwe allooiwiele, wat jare lank gebruik sou word, opsioneel beskikbaar. Die ses-silinder enjins van die 260 SE en die 300 SE het net só uit die W 124-reeks, wat die vorige jaar bekendgestel is, gekom terwyl die 380 SE met ‘n 420 vervang is. Die 500 SE is onveranderd gelaat, maar ‘n nuwe topmodel, die 560 SE, is bygevoeg.  Die SEC-modelle was net as ‘n 420, ‘n 500 en ‘n 560 beskikbaar. Toe die Suid-Afrikaanse reeks teen die einde van 1986 bekendgestel is, het die reeks uit die 300 SE, die 420 SE en die 500 SEC bestaan. Die 420 SEC is nie in Suid-Afrika bekendgestel nie, maar die 500 SEC en die 560 SEC was wel beskikbaar, wat beteken het dat Suid-Afrika vir die eerste keer dieselfde vlagskip as die res van die wêreld gekry het. Die 560 SEL is ook in beperkte getalle na Suid-Afrika ingevoer. 

In 1990, terwyl produksie van die W 126 nog in Suid-Afrika aan die gang was, is Suid-Afrika se latere president Nelson Mandela uit die gevangenis vrygelaat, en die personeel van Mercedes-Benz Suid-Afrika het in die vroeë 1990’s vir hom ‘n rooi 500 SE vervaardig.  Die W 126 se opvolger, wat as die W 140 bekend-gestaan het, is in 1991 internasionaal bekendgestel, maar sou eers in 1993 op die mark kom. Die verskil was verder dat die W 140 in sy geheel na Suid-Afrika ingevoer is. 

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