Mercedes Benz SET the standard for design and safety and are the innovators for putting srs airbags and abs brakes into production cars first (as an option). They also pioneered crumple zones and reinforced passenger cells before any other carmaker. All other luxury car makers set their standards on MB research and design standards and innovations. One leader (MB). Many followers (all the others).
ABS (Anti-lock Braking System)
The Mercedes was one of the world's very first pioneers actively developing ABS system for production automobile. The earliest development and tests dated back in the 60s. As with the airbag, ABS was a totally new concept during that era, and it took Mercedes long time to test the device thoroughly for the highest possilble reliability and precision before it could be applied to the production vehicles.
The W 126 S-class was the world's first production automobile to be equipped with the ABS system. The system was first available for the Germany market in 1981, as an optional extra.
First version ABS circuit board
First version ABS circuit board
W 126 under ABS Test
Two W 126 under ABS Test (right with ABS)
ASD (Automatic locking differential)
ASR (Acceleration skid control + Limited slip differential):
Spinning wheels can cause the car to swerve out dangerously when cornering or accelerating briskly on slippery surfaces. The automatic electronic acceleration skid control (ASR) prevents the wheels from spinning and adapts drive power to the conditions.
Links: Wolfgang's ML Page - very detailed information about ABS and other technological features on Mercedes cars.
Flashing "fasten seat belt" sign
Reflectors near all door locks
Ribbed, self-cleaning tail lights
Wash/ wipe system for headlamps; heated windscreen wash system with two heated nozzles; heated rear-view mirrors and rear screen
Roof are specially designed with "channels" at both sides duct water caught up in the slipstream around the glass and to the boot.
Tail lamp clusters are horizontally fluted to complement the drain water off the vehicle. The unique fluted surfaces are helpful in keeping the tail lights from water and dust accumulating in all weather conditions.
Exterior door handles in the SEC are accompanied with moulded plastic deflectors and aim to keep the grip-shaped handles clean.
See more about aerodynamics here
Crumple zones and Rigid passenger cell (Safety bodycell)
Mercedes scored again? Yes, the company invented the crumple zones and rigid passenger cell. A simple but effective combination of the two designed to absorb and relocate the most of the massive impact energy to the vehicle itself rather than to the driver and passengers.
In the past, automobile industry claimed cars built in the hardest material were the safest cars during a collision. It may be true at the time vehicles were not to be driven at high speed. As engine output and car performance improved, the hardest vehicle was no longer the safest but the most lethal. It's all about energy absorption. Whether the vehicle, or the passengers, take the most of the momentum of the impact. An plain rigid vehicle most likely take most of the impact to the passengers.
The Mercedes came with a brilliant idea, using a softer, more energy absorbing crumple zones in the front and rear section of a vehicle, in combination with a rigid, reinforced passenger cell. As a result, during an impact at either end of the vehicle the crumple zone crumples and absorbs a large portion of the deadly impact and shock, at the same time preventing the impact from transferring into the passenger cell. The rigid passenger cell, on the other hand, acts as a protective safety cage free from material distortion and protects its occupants from sharp intrusions and fragments from entering the cell.
The concept was fully realized and integrated extensively in the bodywork design of the W 126 S-class. The result, needless to say, was exceptionally rewarding. In fact the W 126 stayed at the very apex of the safest vehicle list during its time and the years to come.
Crumple zones: SE/ SEL
Crumple zones: SEC
Intricate labyrinth of steel channels and box shaped structure
Complex structure of strengthened steel channels were used extensively in the safety bodycell.
The cross-section diagram of the roof section on the right illustrates how well the roof and doorside were designed for occupant protection in case of a rollover. It also hints why a door of W 126 shuts firmly with a sturdy, confident sound. Few cars are designed with such an over-engineered attitude today.
Polyurethane foam moulded bumpers and side mouldings:
These kind of bumpers and mouldings on W126 were first-of-its kind for Mercedes cars. These good looking fittings were proven to be successful and have been widely used or refined in most later Mercedes as well as cars of other makes.
Door locks: designed to be solid and secure
Laminated safety glass windscreen
Looped shape door handles
SRS airbags (Supplemental restraint system)
Airbags are nowadays equipped in virtually every newly sold vehicle as factory standard equipment. The invention of airbags has truely revolutionized our world. However back in the early 80s, it was the Mercedes-Benz which had brought this earth-breaking device alive.
Mercedes W 126 S-class was the world's first mass production car to have a driver-side airbag, available as an optional feature in 1981. It was also the first car which offered an optional passenger-side airbag after the 1986 facelift!
In the 70s Mercedes engineers had came into an entirely new idea in cushioning the driver from hitting directly the steering wheel during a head-on impact. After years of research and development the engineers finally invented the world's first pilot SRS airbag and took numerous tests in the 70s. During that time, most car makers were indifferent about the concept of an airbag and only very few of them awared or showed interest to the importance of such device.
Even Mercedes was extra precautious about launching the device in its production vehicles. SRS airbag was not only a totally new concept to the world, but also an extremely complicated device which had to be proven to work properly without any material flaws. Reliable impact sensors, precise timing and firing of airbag were essential and these meaures all relied on mature electronics and mechanics.
Only be activated in necessary situations, an airbag used a tiny amount of explosive to initiate a propellant resulting in a rapid release of nitrogen gas to inflate the airbag within milliseconds after a collision. The inflated airbag was then deployed quickly.
Every aspect of an airbag system were tested by Mercedes for the highest precision and reliability offered by the best possible technology available at that time. Only in early 80s did Mercedes put the airbag into reality and started to offer driver-side airbag for its top of the line series, the W 126 S-class, as an optional extra equipment.
Aluminium sheets beneath console panel
Crushable steering column: with impact absorber and corrugated tubings in the lower section
Extinguisher under front passenger seat (as an option extra)
Seat belt tensioners
A must see site for MB fans