BBC Autos

Evolution of Design

A brief visual history of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class

About the author

Editor of BBC Autos, Matthew is a former editor at Automobile Magazine and the creator of the digital-only Roadtrip Magazine. His automotive and travel writing has appeared in such magazines as Wired, Popular Science, The Robb Report and Caribbean Travel + Life. He lives in Los Angeles with his wonderful wife and four-year-old daughter.


  • Mercedes-Benz 250S to 300SEL 6.3, W108/W109 (1965 to 1972)
    Pictured: 1971 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.8 AMG racing car, "Red Pig"
  • Mercedes-Simplex 60hp (1903 to 1905)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Simplex 60hp from 1904, once owned by one of Mercedes-Benz's founding fathers, Emil Jellinek (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz Nürburg, W08 (1928 to 1933)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz Nürburg 460 from 1929 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz 770 “Super Mercedes”, W07/W150 (1930 to 1943)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 770 from 1931 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz 320, W142 (1937 to 1942)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz Pullman limousine from 1939 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz 220, W187 (1951 to 1954)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 220 from 1951 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz 300, W186/W189 (1951 to 1962)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 300 from 1952 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz 220/220S/220SE, W180/W128 (1954 to 1959)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 220 from 1955 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz 220 to 300SE long, W111/W112 (1959 to 1965)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 220SE from 1964 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz 600, W100 (1963 to 1981)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 600 from 1963 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz 250S to 300SEL 6.3, W108/W109 (1965 to 1972)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 280SEL 3.5 from 1972 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W116 (1972 from 1980)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 from 1980 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W/V126 (1979 to 1991)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 500SEL from 1982 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W/V140 (1991 to 1998)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz 600SEL from 1991 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W/V220 (1998 to 2005)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz S400 CDI from 2002 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W/V221 (2005 to 2013)
    Pictured: Mercedes-Benz S500 from 2007 (Daimler)
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W/V222 (2014)
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W/V222 (2014)
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W/V222 (2014)
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class, W/V222 (2014)


Cheer up, tearful plutocrats, lamenting the recent demise of Daimler’s Maybach brand: your new ride has arrived.

Mercedes-Benz has revealed its 2014 S-Class flagship models, vehicles that promise to match – and handily top – the technology, opulence and style of Maybach’s vaunted 57 and 62 sedans. “The best automobile in the world”, is Mercedes’ claim for the car – audacious, but, considering the model’s long and storied history, and the stupendous array of advanced technology in this latest generation, entirely possible.

BBC Autos’ deep dive into Mercedes’ impressive new flagship – the standard-wheelbase W222 model and the long-wheelbase V222 – is forthcoming. In the meantime, an informal S-Class history lesson: admittedly, the “S-Class” moniker debuted in ‘72, with the W116 model series, but the car’s origins predate that by decades, back to the posh Mercedes-Simplex 60hp of 1903, and include such revered machines as the supercharged 770 “Super Mercedes” of the 1930s, the opulent 600 Pullman of the 1960s, and, from 1971, the “Red Pig”, a charismatic, race-winning 300SEL 6.8 AMG. 

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