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Mercedes Benz 450 SEL 6.9 and 300 SEL 6.3: Volume models

Frank Herzog
Mercedes Benz 450 SEL 6.9 and 300 SEL 6.3
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S a car must be perfect' , wrote Fritz B. Busch thirty years ago about the psychiatrist, art collector and filmmaker Professor Ottomar Domnick. The gigantic intellectual, always searching for the perfect automobile, found it after 30 attempts on September 6th. Because of its drive comfort, it was initially addicted to large-volume Americans, but road holding and quality? No. Short trips to Iso Rivolta and Maserati ended abruptly in a lack of harmony. A Mercedes 250 SE followed - too little engine.

The talented Mr. Waxenberger

The six-cylinder looked strained. Then a white 6.3 and finally the 6.9 - a 77 in gray blue metallic, almost like the former executive car on these pages, which also served as a test vehicle. 'The Mercedes 6.9 intoxicates him,' continued Busch. 'With it, driving becomes a melody'. Domnick was an auto-nut, or rather, an auto-philosopher. At his 70th he wanted a fine wood instrument panel for the 6.9. He decorated the car with additional clocks and gave it the name Octavius. He quickly eliminated the star on the bonnet.

'A perfect automobile needs a powerful, quiet engine,' said Domnick. The 6.3 was still too loud for him, the sound too roaring when accelerating sharply, the gear changes too hard, the chassis not of that stoic serenity that the 6.9 conveys.

Our Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 comes from France, its yellow halogen double headlights reveal it as an export model. It adorned the Paris Salon as an exhibition piece in the autumn of 1970 and spent the prime of its years rust-free in well-tempered Cannes. The double headlights were reserved for the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 as standard, as were the internally ventilated brake discs all around. For better brake cooling, Daimler-Benz recommended the forged Fuchs wheels with turbo effect, which were only available from the end of 1969, as an extra. Its trend-setting, functional design was to survive as a stylish Mercedes standard until 1985. The idea of ​​implanting the 350-kilo eight-cylinder chunk from the Mercedes 600, internally known as the M 100, including the five-speed gearbox, in an air-sprung 300 SE Coupé came from the talented test engineer Erich Waxenberger.

Fastest production sedan in the world

The pragmatic Bavarian loved unusual experiments. He came in with the heart transplanthis racing enthusiast boss, the head of the passenger car test Rudolf Uhlenhaut, on spontaneous approval. Even a pagoda from the Waxenberger construction kit with the M100 has been handed down, Stuttgart - Munich he made it in an hour and a half.

The V8 was also designed by chief engineer Dr. Hans Scherenberg favors a smaller variant in the medium term to replace the three-liter aluminum engine that has been exhausted in terms of design. But the decision was initially made in favor of the SEL sedan with automatic transmission. At the 1968 Geneva Motor Show, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 celebrated its premiere as the world's fastest sedan, sporty with a tachometer and limited-slip differential as standard, at a proud price of 41,000 marks. A good year later, the weaker counterpart 300 SEL 3.5 was available at the IAA in autumn for 10,000 marks less. Its delicate, extremely easy-revving eight-cylinder engine is structurally closely related to the M100. It can be combined with a four-speed manual gearbox or, for an extra charge, with an automatic. Luxuriously furnished like the big one with velor upholstery, electric window lifters front and rear as well as central locking and high-quality wood veneer as a fine decoration on the door panels, it kept a distance from the Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5.

The air suspension with automatic level control helped the antiquated Pendulum axle in the 300 SE tail fin for good-natured driving characteristics. The violent lane and camber changes with sharp brakes and rapid cornering did not occur, the driving comfort even benefited. Waxenberger's signature adorns the intake manifold of the dark blue Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, which was subsequently polished to a high gloss. After his odyssey through France, he ended up with two M100 friends in Hesse. In the small hall of Matthias Hemm and Hartmut Rauter somewhere between Wetzlar and Friedberg, he is in good hands next to the gray-blue Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 and a few parts racks.

The two Mercedes fans come from the Strichacht scene, they only dared to tackle the complicated M100 bolides because they can screw. The two power Mercedes are a particular challenge, especially for Matthias, the automotive engineer. He is always looking for ways to upgrade his flagship 280 E Strichacht with original extras or to optimize the chassis.

The older one accelerates better

Hartmut has a Mercedes-Benz 230 from the first series, original and in top condition. There is a close relationship between the model series, after all, a Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, just like the 600 and the Strichacht, is a real Paul Bracq. The old man scrapes impatiently at idle, the pointer of the small rev counter shakily levels off at 700 tours. When starting, it is advisable not to give too much gas - then the 6.3 accelerates vehemently and for the novice behind the filigree horn ring steering wheelTrack too uncontrolled ahead. The first stage of the four-speed automatic is translated quite briefly. The shift jerks of the automatic can be felt violently under the brute torque output of the big-block eight-cylinder, but the rear wheels prevent spinning at least the standard limited-slip differential. You sit quite high in the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 and enjoy the best view in all directions without headrests.

From the driver's seat, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 feels much more delicate than the 1.80 Meters wide and five meters long. When there are no tight parking spaces, it behaves cuddly and agile like a barricade - as long as you let it roll and resist the temptation to really accelerate. Because then it smokes. The Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 hisses angrily and accelerates even more drastically than a Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9, which is even proven by the former measured values. For the sprint from 0 to 100 km /h it is 7.3 to 8.2 seconds despite 36 hp more power. Only at the top does the new one run faster thanks to sophisticated aerodynamics and a longer rear axle ratio, namely 221 km /h to 234 km /h.

The Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 weighs only 155 kilos more than the 6.3, but feels much heavier and a little more sedate. In handling, for example on fast, winding country roads, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, with its slight tendency to oversteer and precise turning, is reminiscent of a well-moving pagoda. The 116 flagship, milled from solid, perfectly suggests the feeling of a heavy car. It understeers more in corners and does not appear as nimble as the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, which has a career as a racing touring car. On the other hand, the ride comfort of the hydropneumatics is unbeatable, really in a class of its own.

Dignified interior fittings

The large glider moves like on velvet paws, without appearing spongy. Even the steering is pleasantly direct around the central position. A black rectangular button, well hidden above the steering column, reveals the Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9. This allows the level of the car to be raised or lowered; a red control lamp on the far right in the warning lamp bar signals the process. The feeling of space is significantly more generous than that of the predecessor, especially due to the princely interior width.

The rear door falls into the mortise lock as loud and full as a shot. The lush rear door panels in the rear with the curtains and the plastic applications of the 'upscale equipment' ensure an inimitable feeling of security. Matthias Hemm and Hartmut Rauter found their very special Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 in the bankruptcy estate of VW tuner Oettinger. Thanks to a factory cavity seal, the former test car for the board only suffered from the usual damage to the floor.

Special equipment for theMercedes Board of Management

The low mileage of almost 135,000 kilometers was convincing. The blue checked fabric with the interspersed plain-colored piping makes the car unique, because only velor was standard on the 6.9 and leather for an extra charge. The center console of the Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 is equipped with an outside temperature display and an ammeter. Two orange switches, which you would assign to the seat heating, loosen and tighten the seat belts on command to ensure optimal guidance - a detail that did not go into production. And instead of the veneered ashtray there was the control element of a C-network telephone. The cruise control is standard, the solid root wood, in turn, cost an extra charge even in the S-Class flagship, which was expensive for 73,100 marks. Above all, such a 6.9 is today a vacation island in the flow of mass traffic. His crew seldom traveled more relaxed, but also a little isolated - like in a lush living area on wheels.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, on the other hand, is a stylish piece of furniture, a pure antique, with a dignified interior design. Screwed wooden strips around the side windows, chrome frames around each individual instrument, hatched dials and an aesthetically rather than ergonomically motivated distribution of switches, levers and buttons. It seems as if there were at least 20 years between the two cars, this becomes clear in many details - horn ring versus impact badge, delicate selector lever against hand ax handle, bus taillights instead of Art Deco lamps. The design of a Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 is largely shaped by passive safety. Its idiosyncratic, monstrous beauty beguiles some today even more enduringly than the filigree aesthetics of a W 109. Ottomar Domnick drove his beloved Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 for five years and 100,000 kilometers. Then he switched to a Jaguar XJ-S. In the end, the enthusiastic hobby cellist fell for twelve-tone music.

In a class of its own: hydropneumatics in 6.9

On the other hand, the ride comfort of hydropneumatics is unbeatable, really in a class for themselves. The large glider moves as if on velvet paws without appearing spongy. Even the steering looks pleasantly direct around the central position.

A black rectangular button, well hidden above the steering column, reveals the 6.9. This allows the level of the car to be raised or lowered, a red control light on the far right in the warning lamp strip signals the process.

The blue checked fabric with the interspersed plain-colored piping makes the 6.9 shown here unique, because as standard there was only velor and, at an additional cost, leather. The center console is equipped with an outside temperature display and an ammeter. Two orange switches, which one would assign to the seat heating, loosen and tighten the seat belts on command for optimalGuaranteeing leadership - a detail that did not go into series production. And instead of the veneered ashtray sat the control element of a C-network telephone.

6.3 and 6.9: vacation island versus period furniture

The cruise control is standard, the dignified root wood in turn cost an extra charge even in the S-Class flagship, which cost 73,100 marks. Above all, such a 6.9 is today a vacation island in the flow of mass traffic. Its crew seldom traveled more relaxed, but also a little isolated - like in a lush living area on wheels.

The 6.3, on the other hand, is a period piece of furniture, a pure antique, with a dignified interior design. Screwed wooden strips around the side windows, chrome frames around each individual instrument, hatched dials and an aesthetically rather than ergonomically motivated distribution of switches, levers and buttons.

The design of a Mercedes 6.9 is essentially different from the passive one Security shaped. Its idiosyncratic, monstrous beauty beguiles some today even more enduringly than the filigree aesthetics of a W 109.

Ottomar Domnick drove his beloved 6.9 for five years and 100,000 kilometers. Then he switched to a Jaguar XJ-S. In the end, the enthusiastic hobby cellist fell for twelve-tone music.

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