The Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 started out as a private venture in 1966 by company engineer Erich Waxenberger, which culminated in the world's first "Super Saloon" or Q-car.
Waxenberger's principle was simple: Take the powerful 6.3 litre V8 Mercedes-Benz M100 engine from the luxurious Mercedes-Benz 600 limousine, and fit it into the regular Mercedes-Benz W109 S-Class model which only had 6-cylinder engines at that time. The result was a nearly 2-tonne saloon with performance similar to most dedicated sports cars of the era. It is said that Rudolf Uhlenhaut, when invited to test drive the prototype, opened the hood at the first red light to find out how the big engine and its supporting equipment had been squeezed in there.
Surprisingly, the rather conservative company went ahead and launched the car into the marketplace at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1968, in order to make better use of the M100 engine production facilities. The 6,500 build of the 6.3 outnumbered the 2,700 build of the 600 by far.
What set this car apart from its contemporaries in the late 1960s though, was that it could cruise at over 200Â km/h (124Â mph) with 5 occupants in complete comfort within the body styled by Paul Bracq. Later, the company also fitted new, smaller V8 engines into the W109 series. The 300SEL 4.5 was only available in the USA, while the 280 SE 3.5 CoupÃ© could also be ordered in Europe.
In the 1970s, the Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 was a successor to the 6.3, with even more modifications and power.
6.3 litre V8 with fuel injection, 250Â PS (184Â kW; 247Â hp),300 HP SAE
â€ Works figures
4 speed automatic gearbox
Air supension, ventilated disc brakes on all four wheels, power windows, central locking, power steering.
6,526 of these vehicles were produced, and though quite costly to maintain, they are very collectible today.
AMG, nowadays the sports tuning subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz, but then a small local tuning company founded by former Mercedes engineers, produced special versions of the 6.3 to compete in racing events, usually with the engine enlarged to 6.8 liters or more. The car had an impressive, but short-lived racing career, due to the lack of suitable tires, or rule changes preventing the use of them.
AMG's so-called "Red pig" finished 2nd in the 24 Hours of Spa in 1971. This heavy vehicle with 6834 cc and 420Â hp (313Â kW) was fast, but frequent refuelling was necessary, and tire wear was also high. The car was sold to French company Matra, they used it for tests of jet fighter landing gear.