Classic & Sports Car
April 1999
Best Ever Saloons

A hot-rod in respectable clothes, the Mercedes-Benz 300SEL packed 6.3 litres of iron-block V8 muscle and proved more than a match for Italian exotica despite its monstrous 3838lb bulk, when unleashed in 1968. For all its sombre, uninspired styling, this was a roadburner par excellence. Road & Track went as far as to call it 'merely the greatest sedan in the world.' The brainchild of the Stuttgart firm's maverick engineer and motor sport junkie Erich Waxenberger; this superb Q-car cost more than twice the price of a Jaguar XJ12, but came fully loaded with acres of leather, air conditioning, electric goodies and a walnut slab for a dashboard. It was exclusive too: just 6526 were made during its five-year production run.

"The first of Stuttgart's dragster limos, it's a rubber-burner with the look of a Beirut taxi" - C&SC road test

Air suspension (robbed from 600) afforded a flying-carpet ride and the car's agility belied its size. Recirculating ball steering proved light but positive, allowing the driver to position the car with reassuring accuracy. Acceleration was stupefying, taking less than 7 secs to reach 60mph and going on to 137mph overall -- kick down on the four-speed auto 'box was well cushioned. An unlikely competition car, an AMG-prepared 300SEL finished second in the 1970 Spa-Francorchamps 24-Hour race.

Reprinted from Classic & Sports Car, April 1999
Material provided by NJ Oliva II