The German customer who bought a Mercedes 300SEL 6.3 with the optional five-speed homologation gearbox fitted by the legendary Mercedes-Benz race maverick Erich Waxenberger at huge DM 20,000 cost [about £7000] boasted that he had the fastest Mercedes on the road.

Actually, he didn’t, says Jerry Sloniger, who wrote the biography of Waxenberger on p92. Of the five race cars built, AMG kept one, Matura bought one and rebuilt it so it could land fighter jets on its roof, testing landing gear strains, and another went to a north German named Behrmann (who still has it) but he stuck to the track, winning seven of eight smaller-event starts in 1971.

Monster Mercedes

Then there’s the car in our pictures, sold to a Finnish publisher by the factory. It was still in full track trim when Sloniger first drove it at Hameelinnan in 1970.

Sloniger reports the beast was as chuckable as a Mini, with scorching performance: "On the first drive I had to read a tiny tach between the main dials, hard to find when I had a ton and a half of understeer unless I used the throttle decisively. Downshifts were clearly harder, full-power upshifts at 5000 no trick. Handling settled down around 90mph but the high seating position exaggerated lateral forces. And I wished mightiliy for a larger brake pedal for the left foot. Or both feet after a few laps, when pads began to go off."

Sloniger drove the car again on public roads in 1988, but in the intervening years the ‘Wax’ had been back to the factory for standard air bags and shocks. Wide tyres under flared arches, race engine and automatic gearbox remained under the repaint, but the interior now had flatter, less supportive seats, a dash-top tach and even a telephone. Take-up remained fierce and the engine a lurking dragon but it steered almost too lightly, particularly on Finnish gravel, Jerry reports.

This car is now part of an Urpo Lahtinen trust, along with the outstanding collection of modern art he left. It’s occasionally seen at Finnish car museums.

Race wheel
Giveaway race wheel

400 bhp engine
Race engines produced 400bhp

Reprinted from Classic & Sports Car, January 1999
Material supplied by Giovanni Verzoletto