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4.5 or 6.9, can anyone help me decide, please?

Started by isobars, 07 January 2006, 05:07 PM


Hello Everyone,

I am in need of some advice. I hope that if anyone can spare a few moments, then their experience might save me!

Years  ago I owned a few ?D? Series Citroen's,  and some twenty five years later I find myself with another one. When I saw it last year I couldn?t remember if I?d promised that I?d never own another,  or that one day I would. Seductive and quirky as it is, and notwithstanding that for once I had a bit of luck and tumbled upon an near minter, I can?t help feeling that you can?t go back. I?d always wanted a perfect ?D?, and now I?ve got one  - it is the intervening that gives me the problem. Not only the passage of time, but I?ve since owned 109?s, a 111, 126?s and 140?s and others. I?m not saying the ?D? is a bad car, I still have feelings for it! It?s just in a different place than a Mercedes and  both have their merits, just one more than the other!

I have  subscribed to a ?D? owners  forum which mails daily discussion updates, the information is first rate, and the bond immense. However, the problems  seem to be endless. I know that the territory brings difficulties, it just seems they seem a little disproportionate to the pleasure. Perhaps people aren?t inclined to post good news, or enjoy a challenge, or maybe I?m in the wrong forum! All that aside, the fact can?t be altered that last week as my dog charged past me in the garage I leant against the Citroen and the panel I had leaned on popped in, it was the lightest of pressure. This seems to be a  really thin car! It is a best; flimsy. I heard it was the first in Europe to be built from recycled steel. Anyway, enough is enough. Sadly, it has to go.

Here is my dilemma:
4.5 Versus 6.9

At the moment the difference in price in Europe  between the two is three to four thousand pounds for an average to good example, however a perfect 6.9 will fetch double the money of  little brother.

Given that the sale of the Citroen might allow me to choose either model, and that torque and wow has the same plus as the negative of the hassle which will/may come with such a complex machine, which should I choose? Could anyone who has  had both models  perhaps advise me if they have time?
I would imagine most people  may  think as I?m doing at the moment, head 4.5, heart6 .9!!
If there exists a link to a buying advice post, or if there is a big ?don?t touch with a barge-pole if you find this?  standard, I?d be grateful to know

Many, many thanks, and Best Wishes from Belgium



Hi Paul,

Have you read through the Library at There are some very interesting articles which may inspire you either way.

As a 450SE owners, all I can say is that when these cars were new a 6.9 was much, much more expensive than a regular 450SEL. I  don't think a 6.9 owner will deny a 6.9 is more complicated than the other W116 but then the performance and handling are in a league of their own. As a Citroen owner, you may like the 6.9 solely for its suspension.

For me, the performance and handling of the 450SE are perfect and I never ask for more. There are times I wish I had a 6.9 just so I can enjoy what everyone raves so much about but then getting behind the wheel of my car and remember that I have never found it lacking.

As an investment, I agree that the 6.9 is probably a better buy for its rarity but then there is the higher cost to start with. In the end, I think finding a good example of either model is more important than picking between the two and so it comes down to what you can afford.

Let us know what you decide.

1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


Hi Paul

Ok, the old DS Citroen is no longer your love so do sell it but remember that that WAS the most innovative car in the world when introoduced in 1955 : disk brakes, semi-automatic transmission, hydro-pneumatic suspension, etc...

My opinion on the W116s mentioned ?

Simple : if you can rely on people knowing hydro-pneumatic suspension (like here in France), go for the 6.9 !

BUT, if you want to drive to the east and hit an autobahn or frequently drive well above the speed limits, the 6.9 will bring you down to a very harsh reality, at autobahn speeds, it will empty your wallet very quickly - less so with a 4.5.

I know that styria says it doesn't make a big difference but at 200 kph, it WILL.

Good luck and remember to take your time, those cars are being sold cheaply these days. Here in France, a mint 450SEL can be had for 6 000? and a 6.9 for about 9 000?.

There IS a solution to the fuel consumption : build a still and make ethanol !

Bonne chance


Paris, France


Oh Paul, I forgot one suggestion :

Buy a car from southern Europe ! Search from Spain, along the french coast and on to Italy.


Paris, france


Hi Everyone,

Firstly, thanks for all the advice and interest. I feel much more relaxed about the entire process now!

Initially I felt fairly sure that the decision was going to be a reasonably easy one, but now I?m not as convinced.

Perhaps after driving both models it may quite simply be no contest, but until then - the next few weeks - I would like to at least be able to make the ?head?  decision, leaving  the ?heart? to the test drive.

Styria, would you say that a 6.9 with its' suspension in only reasonable order, rather than in  immaculately maintained  condition, would handle worse than a 4.5?

Are the  under/over steer problems described on the 6.9 common to the 4.5?

What is suspension failure usually attributable to; is it age, use, lack of use, lack of care, design? Or would that be way too easy!

I?ve found a  ?76 model 6.9 with 110,000 kms (thanks to Denis in Paris for his sunnier climes advice),  should the suspension be good for another 100,000 for example?

Would it be correct to assume that a 4.5 in good order would at least keep it?s current value, and that a 6.9 would do the same and more over the next few years?

Finally, if the difference in price wasn't an issue - I'm not saying it isn't! - and the suspension was in good order, and the yearly mileage was low, given an identical 4.5 side by side with with the large relative, should the big lad win every time?

After having written that, I thought I'd nearly answered my own question, then Michael's comments rang back - 'never found the vehicle lacking', and 'couldn't ask for more'!

I suppose I'll know when it when I see it!!

I'll post some images when I find the one!!

Once again, thank you all, and best wishes from The Ardennes.



I just thought I would drop in again to clarify some things. When I say that I don't find the car lacking and that I couldn't ask for more, never do I expect the performance or handling to be on par with a new, top-of-the-line S-Class. These are big, old cars, plain and simple.

However, these cars are never pushed to their limits on modern roads with current road rules and speed limits. If I wanted super-car performance and handling a 30-year old S-Class is not where I would be looking. For driving comfortably both in the city and the highway then these cars are great.

Every time I hop behind the wheel I get a grin from ear to ear from the enjoyment I get from the cars. I smile and wave to every other W116 driver I see while driving and usually get a smile and wave back. I have people comment on my car all the time and I love the positive attention the car brings.

Read the articles in the library if you haven't done so already. I think these cars hold up well today but it is amazing what was said about them in the 1970s when compared to their peers at the time. How many people can say they drive a car that was the best in the world in its day?  ;D
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


Hey Isobars,

I wish I had the same dilemma.  If I did I would go for the 6.9, no question.

Simply put the 6.9 is the top of the range, unique engine and all the bells and whistles when it came to options.  It's the most collectible.  But being a collectible doesn't mean it belongs in a glass case either.  After all, w116's are still serviceable and can and should be appreciated.  I view my 350 as a stepping stone and a good project  .Although sparse in features compared to the 6.9 let alone other sel's, I get the same buzz that "450se" describes every time I drive it.  A top condition 6.9 I think you'd be looking for any excuse to drive it.

Like "styria" mentioned, pay as much as you can for the best car.  Good luck.
1973 350SE, my first & fave


1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


I would agree on most of the discussion between 4.5 and 6.9. But when looking for such a car it is all about finding a good individual. The most important criteria would be:
1. Condition of the chassis: rust and paint condition
2. Condition of the interior
3. Condition and service history of the mechanics

The situation is different if you are looking for a restoration project to fill up your free time (as was the case with me) and your wife agrees with that (which was not allways the case with me, but thats history).

Issues are also on the interior material and on the car paint color. I would recommend making your own preferences on that and not on what is most popular today (like astralsilver or black). Maybe it would be better to think what was most popular at the era of the car.

If consumption is not an issue, and you have enough money to spend, and you find a good individual, go for the 6.9.
But if you find a perfect 4.5 individual with your preferences, go for it.



I agree completely with everything Tomi wrote. The condition of the car is far more important than which model of W116 to choose. A rust bucket will not bring much driving enjoyment regardless of the size of the engine.
1977 450SE [Brilliant Red]
2006 B200


Thanks One and All,

I'm off to see my first one tomorrow morning. Less than 90k Kms, two owners - last one for 20 years, now no longer with us - prior to that chauffeur driven for some captain of industry. Described as having a little rust round the arches, with some history and an unmarked blue leather interior, blue paint and alloys.

This won't be the first wild goose if it is, let's hope it's not!

I take with me all your comments.

Best from Belgium,



"a little rust round the arches..." ;D

That is exactly why is suggested that you look for a southern car. W116s RUST and a "little rust" usually hides "more rust". If you really want the one you are looking at, make sure that you really inspect it for RUST...

Personally, were I looking for a prime W116, I would not buy one north of, say, Milano, Turin or Bordeaux. Even "garaged" cars can rust from collected water in the infamous areas around the front anti-rollbar mountings and under the fuse box. I would only look at cars whose owners claim to have NO rust and that have not been recently repainted. I would go for a pampered original paint car or one that has been very well repainted. I have seen pictures of superb cars from Spain, France and Italy located some distance from the coast (salty air corrodes cars).

Good luck in your quest


Paris, France


Hi Denis and All,

Yes, you were correct! Actually the one I saw today is close to Paris. Have you seen this one? My description will tell you.

It was my first drive in a 6.9, and I can now understand the allure.

I only spent an hour with the car, all the time he had, although I can go back anytime with my expert. I have many images, as you'd expect.

The original advice of 85K Kms was actually a little out, the  total was 105 via two clocks. No invoice to support the change, but pre and post services records suggest it is as stated.

The two largest bits of supported expenditure are for a complete fuel system at 90 K KMs including the tank, injection pump, fuel pump, compression testing, regulating, etc at FF 28,408 - GBP 2800, say, and a new power steering pump, service and regulation of suspension and two rear cushions? at FF24,622.

The car passed it vehicle inspection yesterday, the only note referring to a seepage from the Hydraulic reservoir.

The chrome is near perfect, very, very bright,  one slight bubble starting, and the paint is very good, EUR 250 would see the odd nicks vanish. The wheel arches themselves are fine and original, so too is the boot-lid and so are the door bottoms and bonnet.

The sills are solid.

The engine bay was very good, no corrosion under the battery tray, or anywhere else for that matter. I couldn't put it on a ramp, but my scrumbling underneath didn't reveal anything obvious.

The boot-well on the left is corroded down the seal and a gap, one centimetre at it's widest, extends three quarters of the way down. The right side is fine. So too is the rest of the space.

Both front seats are unfrayed, consistent with the mileage. The back seat has been cut in three places, only to the tune of three cm's the longest and it looks an easy invisible repair. The headlining has similar slash.

The fascia has a crack close to the instruments, and the veneer has whitened quite badly on the right side, also around all it's edges on the console. It doesn't help.

The carpets are fine, no holes or wear marks.

The car smells. Water penetration has had the front passenger footwell swimming at sometime, the foam underlay had been removed. Cigarette smoke as well, but not overly present. Rear and driver footwells look to have always been dry.

Apart from these bits and pieces it is an attractive car. See image if it uploads!

The drive - what there was of it - didn't bounce me around, there were no signs of smoke, the transmission was smooth. The steering wheel wobbled, more at low speed, about a 5cm arc. Braking was in a straight line, and very, very good, I might add.

I wouldn't say the octet was always singing in tune to start, but there has been hardly any recent use. Also, it did consistently tick-over  at 1200, even when warm.

Is the boot-well rust enough to indicate that there is another nine-tenths under the water? No pun intended!

How would you value a car like this?




Hi Styria,
The interior is leather.
I think that the car may have had a dose of unwelcome diesel - not many petrol cars in France, Lord love the wife if she did it!. Would that cause the whole system clearout? I asked the son-in-law, he said the f-i-l did what the garage said, which I thought was a bit evasive.
I've sent you a few snaps because I can't understand the upload thingy.

Thanks for you help.




Paul, Styria, thanks for hailing !

I gave your description some thought. The replaced fuel system, the leaks and the smell make me believe that the car had been parked for quite a while. I agree with styria that its sounds mechanically OK but did you actually see the "contr?le technique" or CT (technical control) for yourself ?

A 1200 rpm idle, corrosion in the boot-well on the left and wobbly steering would attract the inspector's attention so it cannot be true that the only mention is the hydraulic leak (unless there is something strange going on here). French law requires a CT of less than six months in order to sell a car - ask to see it but remember this : it does not guarantee good mechanical condition, only meeting safety requirements. The good part is that the CT lists interesting details such as the quality of alignment of the front and rear suspension to the body : this really tells you if the car has been in an accident and poorly repaired.

So while in some cases, classic cars are sold without a CT (per agreement between buyer and seller and affecting the asking price), if this is not the case, ask for it. Now if this guy wants 2500 ? for a 6.9, a real CT is probably not available.

I would go back and look at the sources of corrosion once more and ask for more test driving : that wobble worries me. Also remember that sometimes, a W116 "leaky winshield" is far more than just that : the panel underneath  can be quite corroded. Also remember that if the repairs list "francs" such as FF 28,408, then they were done before January 1st 2002 (introduction of the Euro in France).

If all this sounds like the owner is a bit nutty (having spent big money on the car and then neglected it afterwards), please understand that that is entirely possible in France  ;D

On the other hand, Paris is not south enough for a really good body, unless the owner is in Reims. Is that the case ? if so I may know him  :o

Just for fun, look at this car :

Italian, PERFECT 450SEL with 71 000km - may be a pampered car owned by a rich family. Expensive at 7500 ? for a 4.5, maybe but then what if it IS in perfect condition ?

Bonne chance in the hunt !


Paris, France (cold and not very sunny)