MY OLD MERCEDES-BENZ 6.9

Geoff Butterworth, North Nowra, NSW

I liked Michael Stahl’s re-visitation of Rendezvous, Claude Lelouch’s 40-year-old film of his mad car journey through Paris (An Illicit Affair, December).

To me it was a reminder that I once owned a Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9. It was six years old but must have had a very hard life. It certainly was no Ferrari.

It had a three-speed auto and its 6.9 litres lost interest at around 5000rpm, but up to that level it was powerful for its day as it quietly thundered out its 550Nm of torque – very satisfying!

I owned the SEL for a couple of years, at which point it had become my enemy. There were many component failures, including air-cell suspension units and steering boxes, as well as the hydraulic pump for the steering system and the whole cruise controller unit.

But worst was the discovery that someone had dropped a bolt into the combustion chamber, which scored the number-one cylinder wall.

A rebore and eight new oversize pistons later it was well again, but when the steering box failed for the second time, I sold it.

Even though it had grown beyond its original capacity, I left the 6.9 on the bootlid notwithstanding unwelcome remarks from mates.