Velvet Hammer: 1969 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3

Todd FitchBy Todd Fitch

After consuming sufficient automotive TV, web, or print content, most motorheads learn about the “Mercedes sedan with the limousine motor.” While not as widely recognized in the United States as, say, a 1969 Charger, even muscle-car fans know that, when you see one of these sedans, you immediately scan for the magic “6.3” on the rear. This 1969 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 resides in Torrance, California, and awaits its new owner here on eBay. Aside from one re-spray in the original color, this specimen is largely original, having received excellent and documented care by two California owners while accumulating fewer than 45,000 miles.

After reviewing Mercedes-Benz’ parts shelves in 1966, engineer Erich Waxenberger launched a off-book venture, installing a 6.3 liter (384 cubic inch) V8 limousine engine into a 300 sedan as a proof-of-concept. After experiencing the sedan’s six second 0-60 times, managers took an additional six seconds to schedule thorough testing and approve the car for production in time for the 1968 model year. Mercedes owners tired of having their six cylinder SEL sedans embarrassed by every big-block sedan on the road wasted no time ordering up the 6.3. The only down-side of driving this fearsome four-door is having to transform your cheesy grin into steely indifference before exiting the vehicle.

In addition to the monster motor, Mercedes equipped all 300 SEL 6.3 sedans with nearly every feature known to moon-launch era man. The seller claims that, aside from one cracked lever and some peeling veneer, the original dash and controls are intact and functioning properly. The original black leather, carpeting, and mats are also well preserved and undamaged. Even the air conditioning works! For more information about the history and development of these large capable muscle-sedans, visit this page on mbca.org.

Tech note – that thing in the left front that looks like a small air compressor is actually… a small air compressor, for the air suspension. Buyers should check that system thoroughly as it can be costly to refurbish.

You don’t have to be a Euro-car expert to look at this motor and know it means business. Its 300 horsepower and 434 lb-ft of torque has no problem getting your foursome to the links on time. At 3,800 lb this classic sedan weighs about the same as a 2017 Chevrolet Impala, and brings about ten times the class. Like a muscular bodyguard in a gray silk suit, this finely crafted machine exudes confidence and looks great at a formal event, yet stands ready to snuff out anyone who picks a fight. Given the excellent as-stated condition and provenance, is this car worth the Buy-It-Now price of almost $50,000?

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Comments

  1. Chebby

    50k buys the best of the best of these. You’d have to do some homework to determine if this one is that.

    5+
    • Jim Fuller

      I bought one of these new in 1969, $14,ooo odd as I recall. A real pleasure for the first year with the car described by “Road and Track” as merely the fastest sedan in the world. After a year, the air suspension failed as did the warranty, and the cost was so much to repair that I traded it in. I loaned it to a friend who drove the length of the Massachusetts turnpike (130 miles) in slightly more than an hour but was arrested at the toll booth at the end!

      2+
  2. Pete

    Besides that junk stuck onto the grill…. Very expensive to take care of. Good looking car. I was there in europe in 1970. These were the sleds to have if you wanted to make waste of those autobahns or autostradas.

    2+
  3. Karguy James

    I’m pretty sure this was considered the fastest production sedan at the time. Massively complicated valve and cam systems. Scary but really fun car to drive. The later 6.9’s were heavier and equally amazing. 140mph like it was nothing.

    2+
    • Dave Wright

      The story Mercedes tells at the factory museum is that when BMW first came out with the great Bavaria 2800, they advertised it as the worlds fastest sedan. Mercedes had an emergency corporate meeting and the 6.3 was born…..indeed the worlds fastest sedan and voted car of the year by Road and Track. They took one with the current (at that time) corvette to the Orange County drag strip. The Mercedes won 2 out of 3 times down thev1/4 mile.

      2+
  4. Rodney

    Not only have you arrived with this car, you have pretty much taken up the whole room. Live large.

    3+
  5. Tom

    I had the privilege and financial pain of owning a 6.3 about 15 years ago. Wonderful when it ran, but definitely one of the most complicated and expensive vehicles to keep on the road. Parts and support were already getting rare during my ownership – I can only imagine it’s an order of magnitude more challenging now. If this example checks out as a low mileage, two owner car, it could be a great find, but I would have thought it would have found a more exclusive route to market than eBay…

    1+
  6. Francisco

    Take a look at this seller’s (westcoastclassics) other listings on Ebay. While there are some very nice and interesting cars; they are also, in my opinion, ridiculously overpriced.

    9+
  7. Bob Gressard

    At the local watering hole the subject usually gets around to bikes and cars. A regular tells me about a Mercedes that is at his brothers shop that will be sold for the repair bill. He didn’t know the model. Next time he says it is 300sel 6.3.Left the beer on the bar let’s go. Sure enough it’s the real thing and when I opened the hood there is that monster motor. I got goose bumps just looking at it. Today every time I walk past it I just have to pop the bonnet. Still get the goose bumps. All this for $900. Cheers Bob

    1+
    • ROAR

      better either have metric along with lots of special mercedes tools or lots of money to pay a mercedes specialist! like most german stuff, it’s well made but done their way and over 97% of most garages heads. then there’s the mindset of many of these guys that you have to tolerate!
      overall it’s a pain just to have a nice car.

      1+
  8. Peter K

    @BOB: Where is this gem that you walk pas?These cars have iconic class and will only be going up in value. In a couple of years I predict that this class of Mercedes will be fetching the same money or more that ratty Porsche 911’s are now from the 70’s.

    1+
    • Bob Gressard

      The car sits in my garage along with several other non 6.3s. I am actually getting good at repairing them. With good care most get to the 500,000 mark. Of course you are on a first name basis with the local Mercedes dealers parts guys.

      3+
  9. Dave Wright

    I have owned (and own) many of these cars. The Germans liked to remove the rear badging so there neighbors didn’t know what they really had. One day, I was at a government auction in Long Beach. I was buying a 100 foot tug boat, but there was a line of vehicles for sale, so I walked buy them while waiting for the auction to start. There was the twin to this car, airmags down, looking pretty sad. I opened the hood expecting a 3.5 or some other S body engine…….it was a 6.3 without badges. Someone had imported it and abandoned it at the dock. I was listening to the old red necks around saying what a POS this car was…..had to have been dropped while being unloaded and all that sort of stuff. The ignition switch had been broken so it would steer without a key. So…..the auction came and I bought it for 750.00. The next day, I went back with some tools, gas and a new battery, checked the fluids, installed the battery and zoom….it was running perfectly using a large screwdriver as a key. So I was puttsing around while it idled along for a few mutinies and the suspension inflated bringing the car up to an operating height. The same old red necks were there with a tow truck picking up the POS American cars they had bought. They were shocked…..and upset that they hadn’t bought it. I drove it home to Santa Barbera, went by the dealer and ordered the ignition switch with correct key…..it took a couple of weeks to show up. I drove the car for 3 years and sold it to Peter Eagan that bought it for one of his buddies, an editor at Car and Driver. I saw it for sale again in Florida, restored for 35,000. I have owned 4 6.3’s, have a 4.5 now…..these are the best of the best. I love it when people that can’t turn a wrench or have never owned anything better than a Mustang complain about the complexity and cost of parts. The first rule about successful classic car ownership is to understand your car……if you just walk into a shop, they will be more than happy to take your money and through parts at a problem they don’t know enough to fix. Parts for these are easier to find and cheaper than ever today. The values have been suppressed by myths promulgated by unknowing people…..some that have even owned them.

    12+
  10. Danny

    Tan leather???? Sure looks black to me.

    6+
  11. Darryl

    Looking at the eBay photos (it’s been listed several times with zero bids so far), there are a few glaring issues; the dried up window seals are indicative of the glass not being removed when the car was repainted, the wood on the dash has been refinished and it’s not the best job, the wood trim at the bottom of the front window is toast (look closely and you can see where it has completely delaminated on both the left and right sides to the point it likely cannot be repaired), and the center console has had something drilled into it. Overpriced? Absolutely! The seller can’t get a bite at $35k. The ad copy needs to be corrected to reflect an accurate description – including the correct interior color. The ad copy is almost word for word from another car they have. Any potential buyer had better insist on a PPI before moving on this one. The car has potential, but at about half the current asking price. I would be concerned about what it actually needs.

    13+

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