Mercedes high standard of engineering have been admired since before the Second World War, but they reached something of a peak during the 1980s. Its top line S Class car of that era a feeling of imperturbability that can have come from the highest quality materials engineered into the highest quality overall whole. In 1981, Mercedes launched the coupe bodied SEC, which was based on the running gear of the S Class, limousine that had been launched the year before. The SEC was an exceptionally attractive car, and decisively modern than the outgoing coupe. The elegant, pillar less body survived unchanged for ten years, ad proved a great inspiration to other car stylists. Mercedes use of expensive, but gently curved, body work sections and very wide radius corners gave the car a feeling of great solidity and integral quality. The approach was much copied. Less easy to copy was Mercedes engineering the 5.0 liter V8 in the 500 would, even now, be regarded as a world class power plant. Never more than a distant thrum, even at high autobahn speeds, it simultaneously felt unburstable and unobtrusive.
Where many manufactures were driving the engines of the executives the relative crudity of a three speed automatic gear box, Mercedes had a four speed unit with option of both economy and sport modes of operation. The shift quality was unmatched for smoothness and responsiveness. The chassis was also a gem, taut handling at all speeds and still comfortable. Like all Mercedes, the interior layout was exceptional clear, verging on the over simple. There are few, if any, cars that will wear a decade of ageing and a six figure mileage as well as the SEC.