Engineers drafted a W18 design which would have produced around 680hp in a 90s saloon!

If you like super saloons then look away because this is enough to make you wince. Mercedes almost made an S-Class with a humongous 8.0-litre W18 engine that would have produced a huge amount of power, even by today’s standards!

That’s right, it’s reported that Mercedes engineers drafted a design for the W140 S-Class which was made between 1991 and 1998. Designed to be overzealous, excessive and ruddy powerful these two variants would have, if made, produced amounts of horsepower that even some of today’s super saloons don’t have.

The 8.0-litre W18 Mercedes Saloon That Almost Was

The range-topping W18-engined model would have (in an ideal world where this draft was approved by Mercedes) produced 680 hp and 800 Nm of torque. In comparison, the current-gen flagship S-Class (S65) produces just 621 hp from a 6.0-litre V12.

Now, we can’t vouch for the accuracy of these projected figures but if an S-Class were to make 680hp in the 90s the world may have just imploded. More realistically, it could have turned the super saloon industry on its head and who knows, maybe the cars we see today would be different if Mercedes went down this path back in the 90s.

The 8.0-litre W18 Mercedes Saloon That Almost Was
By Matti Blume – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,

Another W18 model has been reported to have been designed, although with less ridiculous power figures. It would have been called the 800 SEL and would produce around 490 hp and 750 Nm of torque.

These two mammoth configurations are said to have been conjured in response to word that BMW were producing a V16 7-Series, which of course, did not turn out to be true either. This Cold War of super saloons ending with neither side pressing the button.

The 8.0-litre W18 Mercedes Saloon That Almost Was

This W18 engine that never happened would have been called the M 216 and in it’s W configuration there would have been three rows of six cylinders joined at an angle of 75.5 degrees, for the engineers out there. The end product would be a compact engine that would be no longer than a standard straight-six and would have also been able to share many components with a straight-six engine.

Despite it being compact, this dense block of sheer explosive power would have weighed as much as a small car and would have ghastly fuel economy. Because of this, along with a power unit so heavy that if you braked sharply the car would probably flip upside down, the fuel tank would also have to be big resulting in the car weighing enough to alter the Earth’s rotation speed.

The 8.0-litre W18 Mercedes Saloon That Almost Was

Along with what we assume would be very difficult engineering constraints, the car would also only be for a very select amount of customers and so, in the end, Mercedes did the boring…er I mean the sensible thing and decided it wouldn’t be commercially viable.

And so ends the tale of the mythical 8.0-litre W18 S-Class that could have been.

Let us know if you think it should have been produced in the comments.

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One Response

  1. Derek Heeps

    There have been numerous reports that the 800SEL was in fact an 8 litre V16 , there are photos on the web , and that D-B actually built and ran 65 prototypes of this model before it was cancelled . The engine was basically an M120 with two extra cylinders on each bank .

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