It was the flagship coupé from Mercedes in the Eighties, one of the best periods of the brand. Based on the venerable S-Class W126 chassis, the top of the line 560 SEC had it all — elegant looks, a luxurious cabin and to back it all up, solid performance.

The SEC was available with a host of V8s including a 3.8-litre, 4.2-litre and a 5.0-litre, but it was 1986’s 5.6-litre that had customers looking for power licking their lips. Even though it was a big and heavy car, this motor made it a very competent performer; it had 295 horses, which was enough to propel it from 0-100kph in 6.8 seconds (it was quicker than the Jaguar XJS V12...) and on to a top speed of 250kph. And at that speed, it was stable and composed, and ate up the autobahn without a fuss.

It looked the business, too; the concept, revealed in 1979, had everyone’s attention and when the production version, designed by designer Bruno Sacco, hit showrooms, buyers were falling over themselves to grab it. With a long bonnet and short deck, the pillar-less coupé featured clean and sophisticated lines, frameless windows and a sporty stance. The three-pointed star in the middle of the grille never looked so proud.

Mercs built prior to 1992 are held in high regard in the automotive world for their bulletproof reputation, and the SEC coupé was no exception. Merc was obsessed with durability during this time and this explains why you still see a lot of these cars, especially in the Al Awir auto market, today. They built them back then to go the distance — and indeed many don’t know where the ‘finish line’ is, they just keep on going. Everything about the model spoke quality, from the assured thud of the door to the sound of the V8 awakening from its slumber — and 30 years later, you get the same sensation.

With a glut of then advanced features such as dual airbags, traction control, pre-tension seat belts, anti-lock brakes and crumple zones, it was well ahead of the competition. And in spite of these technologies being so new and unknown, they worked just fine and helped make the model the success it was.

You can pick these up for as little as Dh40,000 (double for a well-maintained model) and that’s a fraction of the cost when new, making this a bargain for one of the coolest cars of the Eighties.