The King of Cool & the Big Benz

25 March 2022

Produced from 1968 to 1972, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 borrowed the M100 V8 engine from the company’s flagship 600 to create a powerful, luxury sports saloon. Among its fans was the late Steve McQueen, who happened to import his particular car in 1972 and who drove it until his death in 1980.

Mr Cool owned many motor cars; despite its presence, this SEL, finished in Black with a black leather interior, was much more subtle than most go his machinery.

It has changed hands several times since, in 2012 was sent to Mercedes specialists Kienle Automobiltechnik in Germany for a complete, €125,000 restoration that included both cosmetic and mechanical work, with 81,000 miles on the odometer, fitted with the handsome 14-inch Bundt alloy wheels.

It is to be auctioned by the American auction house: Bring a Trailer. Multiple registration slips issued to McQueen’s Solar Productions prove its authenticity.

The 300SEL 6.3 was Mercedes’ first attempt at a modern performance sedan. Mercedes took the vast 6.3-litre engine from the much larger Mercedes-Benz 600 Series M100; the engine produced 247hp and transmitted via a 4-speed automatic gearbox. It was capable of over 100mph and reached 60mph in 6.5 seconds.

Interestingly, the SEL was possibly the forerunner to the current Mercedes AMG variants. Two former employees of Mercedes built an enhanced 300 SEL to achieve race track dominance.
At their first time out, they achieved a second spot on the podium at Spa Francorchamps and the car—colloquially dubbed The Red Pig.

The engineers sold the Red Pig to an airline company to test landing gear. It was the only thing powerful enough to impart a similar stress on aeroplane tyres, but sadly, ultimately, it was demolished.