During the late 1960s Mercedes-Benz were manufacturing the 300 SEL, otherwise known as the W109, with engine sizes of either 2.8 litres or three litres. These were very comfortable cars with excellent ride quality owing to their air suspension, disc brakes all round, power operated windows and steering, central locking, air conditioning, and a cosy interior with lots of wood and leather. There was an excellent radio and sound system which included a powered retractable aerial and even writing tables and reading lights for the rear passengers. Performance was more than adequate for such a luxurious car.
However they also produced the 600; this was a huge heavy limousine created to compete with Rolls-Royce models. To move such a heavy vehicle and operate all the hydraulically driven features took a large engine and so a V8 6.3 litre overhead camshaft one, called the M100, was fitted.
In 1966 one of the company's engineers, Erich Waxenberger, looked into the possibility of squeezing the 300 horsepower M 100 engine into the 300 SEL. He succeeded – but only just!
The result was a true muscle car capable of beating nearly all the high-performance sports cars of the period. It could out accelerate a Lamborghini and was faster than the Ford Mustang even though it was a luxury limousine and not a stripped down lightweight sports car.
This was a car which could hit 137 mph and cruise all day with five people on board at 125 mph. It could go from 0 to 60 in 6.9 seconds, and yet from the outside there was nothing except a small badge to differentiate it from a normal 300 SEL. This led many people to label it a 'Q' car, from the 'Q' ships of the British Navy, which had far more firepower than their external appearance displayed.
There were even reports of owners removing the 6.3 litre badge from the boot of the car, in an effort to attract less attention from the occupants of police cars!
This was without doubt the fastest four-door saloon in the world at the time. It was a nightmare to service with a mass of tubes and pipes packed under the bonnet and the engine was thirsty to say the least but many owners felt that these were acceptable costs to bear in exchange for the shocks that they could give to other drivers when they put their feet hard on the accelerator pedal.
Eventually 6500 of these mighty beasts were built between 1968 and 1972 before it was replaced with the even bigger engined 450SEL 6.9.
Check for DECAL SET FOR W109