MERCEDES-BENZ 300 SEL 6.3

Gunther Molter

RUMORS OF A new V-8 Mercedes-Benz have been heard for months; the car has now appeared-sooner than expected and with a larger V-8 than expected. Scheduled to be available in the U.S. in June, it is a marriage between the 300 SEL sedan and the 6.3-liter V-8 from the 600 series. Departing from traditional M-B designation practice, it holds to the name 300 SEL but carries a "6.3" nameplate as well. Whatever its name, it goes.

Only telltale signs are fat tires, chrome "6.3" on trunk.

Like the 2.8-liter 300 SEL, the car is on the 112.2-in. wheelbase and has self-leveling air suspension. The basic chassis is unchanged, meaning that it has the single-pivot swing axles at the rear and unequal A-arms with no dive control at the front. Tires are larger: wide-oval-proportioned F70-14, roughly equivalent to 205-14, of radial construction. Brakes are discs at all wheels but have ventilated rotors instead of the solid discs used on the normal 300 SEL; there is a proportioning valve to help avoid rear-wheel lockup. As the relatively bulky 6332-cc V-8 has been lifted from the 600 intact and shoehorned into the smaller car, service accessibility may be a problem. It is conservatively rated at 300 bhp @ 4100 rpm and 434 lb-ft torque @ 3000 rpm - we say conservatively because the 600 is faster than it has any right to be with 300 bhp. Weight goes up from 3475 lb to 3835, and it can be assumed that nearly all of the in- crease will be on the front end. Weight distribution of the 300 SEL, though, is about 50/50, so that the V-8 will give a typical 55/45 distribution. The newly designed 4-speed D-B automatic is standard equipment.

MB one-ups the Americans in plumber's nightmare contest.

Final drive ratio is changed to 2.85:1 to give appropriate gearing for this sort of engine, and in a brief driving session with the car I recorded a 0-60 mph time of 6.5 sec and a top speed of just over 135 mph! - Gunther Molter

ROAD & TRACK - June 1968