Cheap Super Sedan: 1979 Mercedes 450SEL 6.9

Few numbers have had as much of an impact on the world of executive transport as 6.9. This, of course, refers to the Mercedes factory hot-rod that could haul your friends, family, or no one and absolutely shame almost every other car on the road while doing so. They usually command big price tags when in anything that’s not dumpster fire condition, which is why it’s surprising to see an example as complete as this one with an asking price of  $14,500. The seller notes it has 102,000 miles and has cleared California’s stringent smog testing. It’s already sporting the upgraded European headlights, so that’s one less thing to do. Find it here on craigslist located in Los Angeles.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Roger for the find. The dealer license plate for a company called Rusnak brings back memories of almost every European car for sale in LA in the 80s; these guys were seriously everywhere. Not sure if it’s there because it never left the car once it was sold new, or if the seller just tacked it on there for nostalgic purposes. The paint looks quite nice, as does all glass and lighting. The bumpers are gargantuan, a penalty for meeting the U.S.’ over-zealous safety regulations; fortunately, you can swap the far more attractive European bumpers on without too much heavy-lifting.

Just one interior photo is included, and it shows the typical wear-resistant Mercedes interior. To me, the cabin was always a bit of a let-down for the 6.9s. The W116 cabin looked pretty similar across the board, regardless of whether you got the herculean engine. The seller notes this has been a “dry weather car” since new, so presumably the carpets have never been exposed to winter slop and grime, and the undercarriage only shows trace elements of surface rust, if anything at all. The door jambs appear to show consistent paint depth with the exterior.

Now, someone along the way installed the European headlamps, which is a definite, must-do upgrade. The chrome Bundt wheels are factory-correct, but never really did much to compliment the car’s proportions – I’d lose those in favor of an Penta-style wheel in a more aggressive fitment. The European-spec bumpers are must, but otherwise, the rest of the 6.9 can remain as-is, unless parts exist for a straight-forward suspension drop. These are fast highway cruisers that will become budgetary nightmares if not maintained, and while this four door brute looks handsome as-is, I’d like to see some history files before taking the plunge on this 70s super sedan.

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Comments

  1. Tom c

    Loved these big bruisers from the first time I sat in the springy seats.

    4
  2. art

    When one saw this car approaching, you knew someone had “arrived”.
    Unmistakable exclusivity and timeless style, not to mention being built like a tank.
    Today’s pseudo luxo-sedans are instantly forgettable, drawing no more admiration than an economy car.
    This car appears to be a gem and a relative bargain.

    9
  3. sparkster

    This Mercedes needs the German version of front and rear bumpers, and please no whitewall tires on a Mercedes Benz.

    11
    • art

      Interesting note, regarding the whitewalls. In the 1980’s, Mercedes Benz of Beverly Hills was noted for adding chromed wheels and whitewalls to their inventory. My friend bought a new 1984 300 CD and had to demand the dealer reverse the whitewalls before he would take delivery. The combo did not always look bad but it was an odd departure for a Mercedes Benz to have whitewalls.

      1
      • Casper

        The 600 hundreds had white walls and stainless fender trim

        1
    • Doyler

      Amen

      2
    • jay

      nah. Euro bumpers make the car look stunted. Cut off short if you will. The bigger bumpers make it more elegant. Needs us spec headlights. The euros have no soul. Whitewalls def need to go

      1
  4. Jcs

    No such thing as a cheap 6.9

    17
    • JP

      Probably easier to source parts for a Marmon or Stutz…

      1
  5. Skorzeny

    It’s nearly as bad as having whitewalls on a 911. Thank God they are extinct.

    3
  6. 408 interceptor

    According to Wikipedia the 6.9 has a forged reciprocating assembly and a 12 quart dry sump oiling system.

    1
  7. GMoparman

    There is nothing more expensive than a cheap Cheap German car. ☺

    6
    • JP

      A cheap old Rolls or Bentley comes close.

      1
  8. Weasel

    I just sent out my wedding reception invites…we’re gonna party on the back bumper. You’re all invited.

    Overflow on the front.

    4
  9. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Tiger I tanks were expensive too when they were rear ended.

  10. ken tillyUK

    If I were lucky enough to own this car I would remove the gross bumpers and drive as is until I could source, and fit, Euro spec bumpers. It would look far better with none at all rather than with the US market bumpers.

  11. peter k

    I have a 1977 450 SEL 6.9 that was brought over from Denmark. It looks so much more classier than this being a euro version instead of an americanized version. Owning one of these isn’t for the faint of heart. I have had it for 15 years and now its time to go to someone else. Mine too has 103k miles on it…

    1
  12. AMISHTRUCKER

    Like Peter similarly, I had a 1976 450SL. Every time I drove it I felt like I was 5 miles away from a 5,000 dollar repair bill.

    1
    • BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

      & if I’d a been your service advisor it’s been more.

  13. Photosteve

    A classic for sure, an extremely expensive car when new, over $40,000! And it didn’t even have a power seat, I’ve seen several of these over the years, I’ve always passed because of the maintenance cost & parts, originally conceived as a car for diplomats, to escape possible terrorists.

    2
  14. Jack Quantrill

    This is the King of the Road!

  15. Skippy

    This was the last of the great Mercedes bodies with the amazing, old-school plush leather interiors. Only the 600 was more comfortable. The engine parts are available but pricey, but body was unchanged for nearly a decade so there are lots of parts available for not-ridiculous prices. I had a ’74. I think it is amazing how many people comment about the bumpers. My friend totalled a Toyota that turned in front of him in his SEL. The Toyota was unrecongizable. He only had to replace his bumper and one bumper strut on his SEL. Euro bumpers on these cars look like a thong on a fat chick. Not pretty at all.

    2
  16. Jasper

    I’m gonna be a contrarian and say a set of slim white walls like the old Good Year Wingfoot would look mighty swell on one of these.
    I’m also totally cool with the big bumpers on this. Just don’t put a set of those gawd awful chrome wheel arches on it.

    1
  17. Midnightdriver2

    Nooo…leave those period-correct wheels alone!

  18. Christopher A. Junker

    Every time I see one of these I smile as they are a hoot to drive if you don’t have to buy it gas or maintain it. That big V8 just pulled and pulled with all that “Tork”. And then there is the AMG “Rote Sau” endurance euro series race car.

  19. Greg S

    “Let’s have a picnic! I’ll set up the bumper while you grab the Dom”.

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