Mercedes-Benz W126

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Mercedes-Benz W126
1987-1992 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL (W126) sedan 02.jpg
Overview
ManufacturerMercedes-Benz (Daimler-Benz)
Production
  • December 1979 – April 1993 (sedan)
  • September 1981 – October 1991 (coupé)
AssemblyGermany: Sindelfingen
South Africa: East London
DesignerBruno Sacco (1975, 1976)
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size luxury car
Grand tourer
Body style2-door coupé
4-door sedan
LayoutFR layout
Powertrain
EngineStraight-5
3.0 L OM617 diesel
Straight-6
2.6 L M103
2.8 L M110
3.0 L M103
3.0 L OM603 diesel
3.5 L OM603 diesel
V8
3.8 L M116
4.2 L M116
5.0 L M117
5.6 L M117
Transmission4-speed 4G-TRONIC automatic
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
Dimensions
WheelbaseSedan (SWB): 115.6 in (2,936 mm)
Sedan (LWB): 120.9 in (3,071 mm)
Coupe: 112.2 in (2,850 mm)
LengthSedan (SWB): 197.6 in (5,019 mm)
Sedan (LWB): 203.1 in (5,159 mm)
Coupe: 193.3 in (4,910 mm)
WidthSedan: 71.7 in (1,821 mm)
Coupe: 72.0 in (1,829 mm)
HeightSedan: 56.7 in (1,440 mm)
Coupe: 55.0 in (1,397 mm)
Chronology
PredecessorMercedes-Benz W116 (sedan)
Mercedes-Benz C107 (coupé)
SuccessorMercedes-Benz W140
 
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For complete overview of all S-Class models, see Mercedes-Benz S-Class.
Mercedes-Benz W126
1987-1992 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL (W126) sedan 02.jpg
Overview
ManufacturerMercedes-Benz (Daimler-Benz)
Production
  • December 1979 – April 1993 (sedan)
  • September 1981 – October 1991 (coupé)
AssemblyGermany: Sindelfingen
South Africa: East London
DesignerBruno Sacco (1975, 1976)
Body and chassis
ClassFull-size luxury car
Grand tourer
Body style2-door coupé
4-door sedan
LayoutFR layout
Powertrain
EngineStraight-5
3.0 L OM617 diesel
Straight-6
2.6 L M103
2.8 L M110
3.0 L M103
3.0 L OM603 diesel
3.5 L OM603 diesel
V8
3.8 L M116
4.2 L M116
5.0 L M117
5.6 L M117
Transmission4-speed 4G-TRONIC automatic
4-speed manual
5-speed manual
Dimensions
WheelbaseSedan (SWB): 115.6 in (2,936 mm)
Sedan (LWB): 120.9 in (3,071 mm)
Coupe: 112.2 in (2,850 mm)
LengthSedan (SWB): 197.6 in (5,019 mm)
Sedan (LWB): 203.1 in (5,159 mm)
Coupe: 193.3 in (4,910 mm)
WidthSedan: 71.7 in (1,821 mm)
Coupe: 72.0 in (1,829 mm)
HeightSedan: 56.7 in (1,440 mm)
Coupe: 55.0 in (1,397 mm)
Chronology
PredecessorMercedes-Benz W116 (sedan)
Mercedes-Benz C107 (coupé)
SuccessorMercedes-Benz W140

The Mercedes-Benz W126 is a series of flagship vehicles manufactured by German automotive marque Mercedes-Benz. Premiering in September 1979 as the successor to the earlier W116 line, the W126 was the second generation of the Mercedes-Benz flagship to officially bear the S-Class name referring to Sonderklasse or "special class." The W126 was initially offered in straight-6, V8, and turbo diesel sedan models. In September 1981, 2-door coupé versions of the W126 were introduced. Compared to its predecessor, the W126 was more aerodynamic, fuel efficient, capacious, and powerful. The W126 S-Class debuted a new Mercedes-Benz design style which was subsequently used on other vehicles in the company's lineup. The W126 line also introduced many Mercedes-Benz safety innovations, including the first seatbelt pretensioners.[1]

The W126 had a twelve-year production run between 1979 and 1991, the longest of any S-Class generation since the flagship models were first built in the mid-1950s.[1][2]

History[edit]

Following the debut of the 1970s generation W116 (which also included the flagship Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9), Mercedes-Benz began plans for the next-generation S-Class model in October 1973. Codenamed "project W126,"[1] the project had specific goals: an improved ride, better handling, and improved fuel efficiency.[2] These improvements were aimed at helping retain the S-Class' market leadership as the world's best-selling prestige luxury sedan.[1] Following the 1970s oil crisis, Mercedes-Benz had made fuel efficiency an especially pertinent goal (named "Energy Program"),[3] even in the large V8 engined versions of the S-Class.

In terms of the body design, the objective of the W126 design team, led by Mercedes-Benz's Bruno Sacco, was to produce a car that was sleeker and more aerodynamic than the previous model. The application of lighter materials and alloys combined with thorough wind tunnel testing to reduce overall drag meant the car consumed about 10% less fuel than its predecessor.[2] The maximum speed was also increased (250 km/h in the most powerful model).[1]

After six years of development, the W126 was formally introduced at the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung (International Motor Show, or IAA) in Frankfurt on September 1979. The initial lineup featured seven models in standard (SE, SD) and long (SEL, SDL) wheelbase sedan body styles: the 280 SE/SEL, 380 SE/SEL, 500 SE/SEL and 300 SD. Technically, the long-wheelbase (SEL) variants were codenamed V126, but this was not popularly known.[1] In 1981, the coupé version (SEC) of the W126 S-Class premiered at the IAA with the 500 SEC model. In 1981, Wheels Magazine selected the W126 model 380 SE as its Car of the Year.[4]

Four years after the introduction of the fuel-efficiency "Energy Program," the model range had been reworked completely. In September 1985, again at the IAA in Frankfurt, the reworked model range was reintroduced. Apart from visual changes to the bumpers, side covers and alloys, the changes made to the available collection of engine variants was most visible. Two newly constructed 6-cylinder engines and new 4.2 and 5.6 litre V8's were added, and other engines were further upgraded.

The W126 generation was replaced by the W140 in 1991, although a satellite factory in South Africa is known to have continued production until 1994. The different body styles of the W126 S-Class achieved a combined sales total of 892,123 units (818,063 sedans and 74,060 coupés), making the W126 the most popular S-Class ever produced.

Styling[edit]

Mercedes-Benz W126 SE (standard wheelbase version)

From 1973 to 1975, Mercedes-Benz designers worked on the successor to the W116. In December 1975, after several design concepts being presented, the design for the W126 S-Class was approved and frozen in 1976.[5] Design work on the coupe began immediately afterward, being finalized in 1977. It premiered the next generation of Mercedes-Benz car styling, which came to dominate the lineup in the 1980s. Compared to its predecessor, the W116, the new model had more aerodynamic qualities than before, with a (drag coefficient of Cd 0.36 for the sedans, 0.34 for the coupés).[1] For the first time, a Mercedes-Benz sedan was not equipped with traditional chrome bumpers; polyurethane deformable bumpers were used, and visually aligned with body panels.[2] Design patents were first filed on March 3, 1977 and later on September 6, 1977 at the United States Patent Office.[6]

The interior featured pleated leather on the doors on later cars and woodgrain trim on the center console and across the dash, and a simplified layout with symmetrically placed buttons. Both zebrano and burled walnut were used on low/mid and high-end cars, respectively.

Models[edit]

Mercedes Benz 420 SEC 1989.

The W126 series (named in accordance to their engine size) initially included the 280, 300, 380, and 500 series models. Following the first S-Class mid-cycle refresh, the W126 series included 260, 300, 350, 420, 500, and 560 models. Variants included SE (standard wheelbase), SEL (long-wheelbase), SEC (coupé), and diesel models (SD / SDL).

Mercedes-Benz W126 300 SD (standard wheelbase version)
Mercedes-Benz W126 SEL (long-wheelbase version)
Mercedes-Benz W126 SEC (coupe)
YearsModelChassisEngineMarketBuilt
1979–1985280 SW126.021M110.924 2.8L I6 carburetorN/A in US42,996
1979–1985280 SEW126.022M110.987 2.8L I6N/A in US133,955
1979–1985380 SEW126.032M116.963 3.8L V858,239
1979–1985500 SEW126.036M117.963 5.0L V8N/A in US & AU33,418 (79–91)
1980–1985280 SELW126.023M110.987 2.8L I6N/A in US20,655
1980–1985300 SDW126.120OM617.951 3.0L I5US & CA only78,725
1980–1985380 SELW126.033M116.963 3.8L V827,014
1980–1985500 SELW126.037M117.963 5.0L V872,733 (80–91)
1980–1985500 SECW126.044M117.963 5.0L V830,184 (80–91)
1981–1985380 SECW126.043M116.963 3.8L V811,267
1985–1991260 SEW126.020M103.941 2.6L I6N/A in US & AU20,836
1985–1991300 SEW126.024M103.981 3.0L I6105,422
1985–1991420 SEW126.034M116.965 4.2L V8N/A in US13,996
1985–1991420 SELW126.035M116.965 4.2L V874,017
1985–1991420 SECW126.046M116.965 4.2L V8N/A in US3,680
1985–1991500 SEW126.036M117.965 5.0L V8N/A in US
1985–1991500 SELW126.037M117.965 5.0L V8N/A in US
1985–1991500 SECW126.044M117.965 5.0L V8N/A in US
1985–1991560 SELW126.039M117.968 5.5L V875,071
1985–1991560 SECW126.045M117.968 5.5L V828,929
1985–1993300 SELW126.025M103.981 3.0L I640,956
1986–1987300 SDLW126.125OM603.961 3.0L I6US & CA Only13,830
1988–1991560 SEW126.038M117.968 5.5L V8N/A in US & AU1,251
1991350 SDW126.134OM603.97 3.5L I6US & CA Only2,066
1990–1991350 SDLW126.135OM603.97 3.5L I6US & CA Only2,925
Saloon Total[7]818,105
Coupe Total[7]74,060

Dimensions and weight[edit]

Body styleWheelbaseLengthWidthHeightCurb weight
Sedan (short-wheelbase)2,935 mm (115.6 in)5,020 mm (197.6 in)1,820 mm (71.7 in)1,437 mm (56.6 in)1,600 kg (3,527 lb)
Sedan (long-wheelbase)3,070 mm (120.9 in)5,160 mm (203.1 in)1,820 mm (71.7 in)1,441 mm (56.7 in)1,600 kg (3,527 lb)
Coupe2,850 mm (112.2 in)4,910 mm (193.3 in)1,828 mm (72.0 in)1,406 mm (55.4 in)1,610 kg (3,549 lb)
[8][9][10]

Timeline[edit]

Features[edit]

Novel luxury features/options included the following safety, comfort, and technological features. Whilst almost all of these features are available on modern luxury cars today, each in its own right was considered very significant in the 1980s. The harmonious and "matter-of-fact" way which these were combined, as well as their renowned durability, has added to the appeal of W126.

Safety[edit]

W126 S-Class driver's seat with SRS airbag in steering wheel

Comfort and convenience[edit]

W126 power seats and window controls
W126 rear interior

Drivetrain technologies[edit]

Engines[edit]

In September 1985, two newly constructed six-cylinder SOHC engines, M103 (already used in the new mid-sized Mercedes-Benz W124 series), replaced the 2.8-litre DOHC M110 engines. The carburetted version was replaced by a 2.6-litre fuel injection engine, while the 3.0-litre version replaced the fuel injected M110. Also new was a 4.2-litre V8 engine, designed to replace the 3.8 litre version used in the W126 sedans, coupés, and the SL-Class. The 5.0-litre engine was modified to receive electronic ignition and electronic-mechanical fuel injection in form of the Bosch KE-jetronic system. Performance was increased to 245 hp (183 kW). An ECE version of the 5.0-litre M117 V8 engine was also available from September 1987 with a power output of 265 hp (198 kW)

The largest new engine was the 5.5-litre V8 that was a further development from the 5 litre version. An increased stroke meant it could turn out a hefty 272 hp (203 kW). There was a higher compression version available, if required, that produced 300 hp (220 kW). This version was only available without catalytic converter. But even without the catalytic converter this ECE version, as it was known, would meet the emission requirements of the European community.

A 3.0-litre inline-five cylinder turbo diesel was offered from 1981–1985 in North America. In 1986, the 300SD was replaced with the 300SDL. It was part of the second generation of W126 model lineup. The five-cylinder engine was replaced with the new inline six-cylinder engine and the engine was only offered in long-wheelbase. The new engine had 148 hp (110 kW) compared to 125 hp (93 kW) of the previous version. California specification 1986 and all 1987 cars were the first diesel cars to have a diesel particulate filter. This early implementation did not hold up under normal use, and was replaced by a standard diesel oxidization catalyst in the course of a recall.

EngineCyl.PowerTorque0–100 km/hMaximum speedNotes[11]
Gasoline
2.6 12VI6166 PS (122 kW; 164 hp)228 N·m (168 lb·ft)205 km/h (127 mph)From MY 1986
2.6 12V*I6160 PS (118 kW; 158 hp)220 N·m (162 lb·ft)205 km/h (127 mph)From MY 1986
2.8 12V carb.I6156 PS (115 kW; 154 hp)223 N·m (164 lb·ft)11.0s200 km/h (124 mph)MY 1980–1985
2.8 12V inj.I6185 PS (136 kW; 182 hp)240 N·m (177 lb·ft)10.0s210 km/h (130 mph)MY 1980–1985
3.0 12V*I6180 PS (132 kW; 178 hp)255 N·m (188 lb·ft)210 km/h (130 mph)From MY 1986
3.0 12VI6188 PS (138 kW; 185 hp)260 N·m (192 lb·ft)210 km/h (130 mph)From MY 1986
3.8 16VV8218 PS (160 kW; 215 hp)299 N·m (221 lb·ft)215 km/h (134 mph)MY 1980–1981
3.8 16VV8204 PS (150 kW; 201 hp)315 N·m (232 lb·ft)9.3s205 km/h (127 mph)MY 1982–1985
4.2 16V*V8204 PS (150 kW; 201 hp)310 N·m (229 lb·ft)210 km/h (130 mph)MY 1986
4.2 16VV8218 PS (160 kW; 215 hp)330 N·m (243 lb·ft)9.0s218 km/h (135 mph)MY 1986
4.2 16V*V8224 PS (165 kW; 221 hp)325 N·m (240 lb·ft)8.3s218 km/h (135 mph)From MY 1987
4.2 16VV8231 PS (170 kW; 228 hp)335 N·m (247 lb·ft)8.1s222 km/h (138 mph)From MY 1987
5.0 16VV8223 PS (164 kW; 220 hp)365 N·m (269 lb·ft)8.0s220 km/h (137 mph)From MY 1986
5.0 16VV8240 PS (177 kW; 237 hp)402 N·m (296 lb·ft)225 km/h (140 mph)MY 1980–1981
5.0 16VV8231 PS (170 kW; 228 hp)405 N·m (299 lb·ft)8.1s220 km/h (137 mph)MY 1982–1985
5.0 16VV8245 PS (180 kW; 242 hp)400 N·m (295 lb·ft)7.6s230 km/h (143 mph)MY 1986
5.0 16V*V8223 PS (164 kW; 220 hp)358 N·m (264 lb·ft)220 km/h (137 mph)MY 1986
5.0 16V*V8252 PS (185 kW; 249 hp)390 N·m (288 lb·ft)7.5s230 km/h (143 mph)From MY 1987
5.0 16VV8265 PS (195 kW; 261 hp)405 N·m (299 lb·ft)7.3s235 km/h (146 mph)From MY 1987
5.5 16V*V8242 PS (178 kW; 239 hp)390 N·m (288 lb·ft)7.6s228 km/h (142 mph)MY 1986
5.5 16V*V8279 PS (205 kW; 275 hp)430 N·m (317 lb·ft)7.2s240 km/h (149 mph)From MY 1987
5.5 16VV8272 PS (200 kW; 268 hp)421 N·m (311 lb·ft)250 km/h (155 mph)MY 1986
5.5 16V RÜFV8299 PS (220 kW; 295 hp)456 N·m (336 lb·ft)250 km/h (155 mph)From MY 1987
5.5 16V ECEV8299 PS (220 kW; 295 hp)455 N·m (336 lb·ft)6.9s250 km/h (155 mph)MY 1986/87
Diesel
3.0 TDI5125 PS (92 kW; 123 hp)250 N·m (184 lb·ft)15.2s175 km/h (109 mph)MY 1980–1985
3.0 TDI6150 PS (110 kW; 148 hp)273 N·m (201 lb·ft)12.5s195 km/h (121 mph)MY 1986/87
3.5 TDI6136 PS (100 kW; 134 hp)310 N·m (229 lb·ft)13.0s175 km/h (109 mph)MY 1990/91
* = Catalyst version

Special variants[edit]

Popular tuners[edit]

Mercedes-Benz W126 stretch limousine

Armored models[edit]

Like the current model S-Guard, specially modified W126 S-Class models were produced for the transport of dignitaries and world leaders. Among the modifications made included a wheelbase stretch, bulletproof glass, and armored body panels.

U.S. grey market[edit]

Grey-market Mercedes-Benz 500 SE

The 500 SEL has an interesting place in U.S. automotive history, since American demand for this particular car drove the establishment of a large grey market. The detuned, yet very expensive US specification 380 SE/SEL/SEC was underpowered, according to contemporary reports, and fuelled demand for the more powerful version available in the rest of the world. Approximately 22,000 units per year of grey market Mercedes-Benz (including the 500 SE/SEL) were sold in the early 1980s, according to contemporary reports in the Los Angeles Times.[14]

Racing[edit]

Two AMG-modified 500 SEC cars raced at the 1989 24 Hours of Spa. Both cars failed to finish, with one suffering gearbox issues, while other had issues with the rear axle.[15]

Awards[edit]

The W126 S-Class was a champion in the luxury car market, dominating worldwide sales during its production run. At the same time, it also achieved several awards during its production period. The W126 model 380 SE was the Wheels Magazine Car of the Year in 1981,[4] the W126 was awarded the U.S. Highway Loss Data Institute "Safest Passenger Car of the Year" in 1988 and 1989,[1] and the W126 was the third-ranked luxury vehicle in J.D. Power's 1990 Initial Quality Survey (IQS).[16] In 1987, 1988, 1989, and 1990, with the W126 S-Class leading its sales, Mercedes-Benz received the highest customer ratings in the J.D. Power Sales Satisfaction Index.[17]

Legacy[edit]

The W126 S-Class sedan and coupé

The W126 series of S-Class has been the most popular S-Class on record in terms of units produced. The W126's 12-year production run was longer than any S-Class before or since, and following the debut of the W140 S-Class in 1991, the additional two years of production in South Africa was a testament to the W126's popularity in the export market. Many W126s have been prominently featured in films long after production ended.[18] Many world leaders of the time could be seen being driven around in a W126. Nelson Mandela owned a red 500 SEL. Saddam Hussein used to himself drive a flame throwing, armoured 560 SEL, which was made on order.[19] Even today, many countries use this particular model for the transportation of heads of state.

References[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Ian Dunross Mercedes-Benz W126 S-class Homepage". Archived from the original on 2007-08-06. Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "S-Klasse Club information". Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  3. ^ "The unofficial W126 homepage – model history". Home.concepts.nl. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  4. ^ a b Gable, Chris (2008-09-04). "Wheels' COTY the real McCoy". Retrieved 2007-05-15. 
  5. ^ http://home.concepts.nl/~vlimmere/the_facts.HTM
  6. ^ http://www.google.com/patents/USD258425
  7. ^ a b All figures for saloon and coupé according to: Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, vol.4. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. pp. 112–113. ISBN 3-613-02131-5.  and Kittler, Eberhard (2001). Deutsche Autos seit 1990, vol.6. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. p. 190. ISBN 3-613-02052-1. 
  8. ^ "W126 SE @ carfolio". Carfolio.com. 2009-01-22. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  9. ^ "W126 SEL @ carfolio". Carfolio.com. 2009-01-23. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  10. ^ "W126 SEC @ carfolio". Carfolio.com. 2008-04-03. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  11. ^ All data except acceleration and top speed figures according to: Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, vol.4. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. pp. 112–124. ISBN 3-613-02131-5. 
  12. ^ "Transco Bremen Stretch Limousine 1000SEL". 1000SEL.com. Retrieved 5 March 2011. 
  13. ^ Karssen, Wouter (2009-06-16). "Juultje had smaak: Mercedes-Benz 380 SEL Caruna" [Juultje had taste] (in Dutch). Autoblog.nl. Retrieved 2014-08-08. 
  14. ^ Dean, Paul. Wheeling-Dealing Gray Market Hits the Skids Bad Publicity, Corporate Action, Legislation Put Brakes on Car Conversions. The Los Angeles Times, July 11, 1986
  15. ^ "Mercedes-Benz 500SEC – Complete Archive". Racing Sports Cars. Retrieved 2011-10-16. 
  16. ^ Lexus No. 1 in New-Car Quality Survey, The Los Angeles Times, Jul 4, 1990 (Versus an average of 140 problems per 100 cars, the S-Class averaged 74.5, behind only the Mercedes-Benz E-Class and Lexus LS)
  17. ^ Sanchez, Jesus. Mercedes Still Ranks No. 1 in Poll of New Car Buyers. The Los Angeles Times, August 8, 1990
  18. ^ "S-Klasse Club buying advice". Retrieved 2007-05-13. 
  19. ^ [http:www.pakwheels.com/forums/wheels-pakistan/18477-saddam-husseins-mercedes-benz-5-000-a// http:www.pakwheels.com/forums/wheels-pakistan/18477-saddam-husseins-mercedes-benz-5-000-a//].  Missing or empty |title= (help)

Bibliography[edit]

General[edit]

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  • Schlegelmilch, Rainer W.; Lehbrink, Hartmut; von Osterroth, Jochen (2013). Mercedes (revised ed.). Königswinter, Germany: Ullmann Publishing. ISBN 9783848002672. 
  • Storz, Alexander Franc (2013). Mercedes-Benz S-Klasse: Baureihe W 126 1979–1991. Schrader-Typen-Chronik series. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 9783613035812.  (German)
  • Taylor, James (1994). Mercedes-Benz since 1945: A Collector's Guide. Volume 4: The 1980s. Croydon, UK: Motor Racing Publications. pp. 8–40, 109, 112. ISBN 0947981772. 
  • Taylor, James (2009). Mercedes-Benz: Cars of the 1990s. Crowood AutoClassic Series. Ramsbury, Marlborough, UK: The Crowood Press. pp. 9–16, 32–35. ISBN 9781847970961. 
  • Taylor, James (2014). Mercedes-Benz S-Class 1972-2013. Ramsbury, Marlborough, UK: The Crowood Press. ISBN 9781847975959. 
  • Vieweg, Christof (2000). Alles über die Mercedes-Benz-S-Klasse: eine Publikation der DaimlerChrysler-AG, Global Service [Everything about the Mercedes-Benz S-Class: a publication of DaimlerChrysler-AG, Global Service]. Stuttgart: DaimlerChrysler-AG, Global Service. ISBN 3932786149.  (German)

Workshop manuals[edit]

  • Mellon, Thomas A, ed. (2001). Chilton Mercedes: Coupes/Sedans/Wagons, 1974-84 Repair Manual. Chilton Total Car Care Series. Radnor, PA, USA: Chilton; Sparkford, UK: Haynes. ISBN 0801990769. 
  • Mercedes S-Klasse 280 S / 280 SE / 380 S / 500 SE. Reparaturanleitung series, Band 662. Zug, Switzerland: Verlag Bucheli. 2002. ISBN 9783716815854.  (German)
  • Mercedes S-Klasse Serie W126 ab September 79. Reparaturanleitung series, Band 929/930. Zug, Switzerland: Verlag Bucheli. 2012. ISBN 9783716817582.  (German)
  • Mercedes-Benz Technical Companion. Cambridge, MA, USA: Bentley Publishers. 2005. ISBN 9780837610337. 

External links[edit]