Besides the good weather, one benefit to living in California is the never ending stream of privately imported vehicles that arrive regularly from the Far East. Most coming into the ports these days are Japanese machinery forbidden to us, such as Nissan Skylines, Toyota Soarers and the odd, diminutive Kei car. Occasionally, a few European motors will be sourced, such as this 600 SWB. Just a few days ago, we featured a very nice, original 600 SWB, but this one is a bit different. This 600 comes equipped with the divider between the front and rear passenger compartments, a rare option for the “smaller” variant of the 600 range. Also, velour upholstery is present in the rear compartment in place of the more common leather.
Elaine from Seinfeld once got into a discussion about grace and how you can’t have a little grace and you can’t acquire grace, you either have it or you don’t. This car has grace and class in spades. The 600 is such a cool car. It is one of those vehicles where you’ll have just as much fun driving it as you will sitting in the back.
We take the sport sedan for granted these days, as there are plenty of four-doors on the market that give purpose built sports cars a run for their money. One of the first sedans to offer a bit of fire in an otherwise staid package was the Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3. Unlike the present day, the S class was an uncommon luxury car choice for buyers in the US in the 1960s, one for real connoisseurs who appreciated the craftsmanship and advanced engineering that went into these cars. The 300SEL 6.3 came about when Mercedes engineer Erich Waxenberger decided to have a bit of fun and stuff the 6.3 liter V8 from the 600 limousine under the hood of the 300SEL. This was a tried and true formula employed by the Big Three automakers: stuff a big engine!
Amazingly capable by today’s standards, the 6.3 was out of this world when it was introduced in 1968. Road & Track famously took a 6.3 to the drag strip and found the car immensely capable. In fact, the subtitle of the car read “Merely The Greatest Sedan in the World.” While most owners would refrain from such brash behavior at the drag strip, just the fact that this car could show up and give others a run for their money was impressive. This 6.3 for sale in California looks sublime in Dark Olive, giving it an understated air that would throw anyone off who witnessed the wrath of its sheer power.
Dark Olive(291)/Bamboo Leather(249)
Factory sunroof. Correct AC.
The 999th 6.3 constructed.
Handbooks including service booklet filled with service stamps.
Delivered new 1-28-69 from European Motors in San Francisco.
Single owner CA car.
Original black/yellow CA license plates.
Aftermarket radio. Correct power antenna.
Factory data card.
Later series cruise control (inop)
Just re-commissioned by MercedesHeritage.com. Serviced, inspected, fuel injection pump reconditioned by Pacific Fuel Injection, valve adjustment. Radiator out and cleaned and fluids and filters taken care of. Steam cleaned,throttle linkage bushings done.
Rear brake calipers/discs and master cylinder and front/rear shocks replaced 3,500 miles ago.
Hood/fender/door/trunk hinge bolts never disturbed!
Bumpers never re-chromed and retain their original 158 white-grey undersides.
Original date coded trunk seal.
Original hood spring rubber buffers.
Superb shutlines and panel fit. Careful cosmetic preparation resulted in excellent paint depth and gloss.
Above average brightwork. Bumpers dimpled where we removed overrides.
98% original Bamboo interior. Perfect original door panels and dash pad.
Excellent wood. Perfect headliner.
Excellent shift quality. Suspension behaves correctly with negligible bleed-down.
291- Paint, Dark Olive
249- Interior Trim, Bamboo Leather
401- Single seats
410- electric sliding roof
461- Instrument, in English
491- U.S. Version
503- Outside rearview mirror, on the left
519- Becker radio
524- Paintcoat preservation
531- Automatic antenna
598- Heat-insulating glass
641- White-wall tires
669- Mode of packing VE IV
306- Air conditioner
Front right and left axle- 488
Rear axle- 1027
Steering box- 553
A turn-key single owner CA 6.3 in one of the best color/trim combinations and fitted with a factory sunroof.
Call Roy Spencer @ 650-343-7980 for more details.
The 6.3 has been steadily increasing in value over the years, as the buzz from the 500E/E500 and subsequent AMG models has had people looking for the nub when it comes to the final word in Mercedes-Benz performance. A restored 6.3 like this will run you somewhere in the $25,000 to $35,000 range, with exceptional, concours examples stretching close to $40,000. So this car is priced just about right. When you consider how few of these were built and how revered they are, it seems like a bit of a bargain, considering the value of other rare, vintage Mercedes-Benzes.
Here is an interesting situation. I posted this car on this blog almost exactly three years ago and now the car is back up for sale and the seller has copied the text of that post to use as description in the ad. Here is the original post.
Year: 1979 Model: Sbarro Gullwing Engine: 6.9 liter V8 Transmission: 3 speed automatic Mileage: 9,100 miles T.M.U. Price: Auction with a $21,995 Buy It Now
These are pretty unique cars and like many custom cars could be had in multiple flavors. What is surprising though is that Sbarro built the same car on different Benz chassis depending on the engine option that was chosen. This car having the awesome M100 6.9 liter V8 comes on the W116 chassis from the 450SEL.
While later twin turbo 5.0 liter Sbarro Gullwings could be had with a 5 speed manual, this car has the Mercedes 450SEL 6.9’s 3 speed auto built to handle the gobs of low end torque the powerplant generates.
We didn’t get mileage figures from that listing three years ago, but with the odometer showing just over 9,100 right now the car hasn’t traveled far. Pictures show the odometer listing 8,894 so the car has traveled a bit with this seller. The seller is calling that figure true mileage unknown, which is refreshing to see a seller actually come right out and say that. Chances are that mileage is accurate.
Three years ago this car had an ask price of an unreasonable, despite the rarity, $90,000. Now the seller has a much more sane $21,995. It appears the current owner is the same owner who had the car three years ago, but now the car appears to be at a dealer being sold on consignment. The seller gives the history of the car as being ordered by a member of the Seattle Supersonics before being sold to a Washington state businessman. The current owner purchased the car in 2002 and spent five years restoring it with a claimed $85,000 invested.
The underlying mechanical being from the 450SEL 6.9 don’t make finding parts quite on the level of unobtainium as you might expect with a custom coach built car. However it is worth noting that upon looking under the hood you can see the hydraulic reservoir that would indicate this car has maintained the 6.9s somewhat costly to fix hydro-pneumatic suspension rather than the far less complex, but ultimately not as cool or smooth, standard spring setup on the run of the mill W116 cars.
I had mentioned in the comments of my earlier post that I have documentation on previous sales of these cars. One of those sold in 2002 and I had thought it was a different car than this one, but with the seller of this one saying it changed hands in 2002 I could be wrong, how many Sbarro 6.9s changed hands in 2002. The photos don’t quite look the same. If the car is in as good an operating shape as it looks the price seems fair, look at what some W126 AMG coupes we have listed have sold for, twice this price. I have one of these changing hands at $40,575 so perhaps not an invest back then, but at this price making a little $ down the road seems much more likely. The car is just a bit too much of an odd duck with polarizing styling to bring the kind of money that similar era AMG cars have brought.
As I said in my previous post I’d probably axe those wheels and replace them with something more in line with the 80sriffic look, not because the wheels are on it are bad, but a car with such crazy 80s look styling needs wheels that also come from that time. I hope this car finds a good home, it is special and true Benz historians will recognize what it is. With bidding currently sitting at just over $7,000, I’m tempted to throw a bid in on this; as a 450SEL 6.9 owner, I appreciate the engine and I’m not holding out for the other famous tuner Mercedes Gullwing, the Isdera.
When someone uses the phrase “the best,” you tend to take it with a grain of salt, right? We’ve featured a lot of cars on GCFSB this week that might come close to living up to that phrase, but for me, there will always be one car in history that is head and shoulders above the rest: the Mercedes-Benz 600.
The 600 was designed as an prestige vehicle for heads of state and VIPs that would offer little compromise in a money no object package. Unveiled in 1963 at the Frankfurt Motor Show, this car cost a hair over $20,000, making it the most expensive new car on the market. This new car packed a new engine, the M100, 6.3 liter V8 with 300 horsepower and 434 lb ft of torque, enough to launch this behemoth at a rapid pace and cover a quarter mile in 17.2 seconds, faster than some small sports cars of the period. Whether you opted for the short wheelbase (SWB) model you see here or the longer Pullman variant, passengers were treated to a high level of luxury, with beautiful wood veneers throughout, rear curtains, an available rear compartment divider and a choice of leather or this car’s plush velour.
This 600 SWB for sale north of Stuttgart looks the business in dark blue over gray cloth.
Two rear curtains, console bar with freezer. The mechanicals and hydraulics are fully functional, interior is in excellent condition. Recent service. Vehicle was completely repainted in the original color. No non-standard modifications.
A 600 SWB in good condition that has been used as intended will run you around $70,000 to $100,000, with examples that are near concours or with exceptional provenance pulling into the $100,000 to $150,000 range. This car is in good shape and sorted, but it is a bit of a hard sell at close to $200,000 with almost 100,000 miles and a repaint. Perhaps the market is a bit different in Europe right now, but with an economic crisis upon them, I tend to doubt it.
If I was part of the 1% and needed a car in which to be drive, this would be my ultimate choice for transportation. It’s not a logical choice and it would certainly be more cantankerous to maintain than a modern day machine. It would be worth it, though, to see people stop and stare at this car’s sheer presence. So big was this car that it was nicknamed the Grosser Mercedes, or “larger” Mercedes. Is it any wonder, then, that this car was popular with dictators the world over?
The 600 was a legend in its time, but a lot of real life legends selected this limousine for their personal transport. This particular 600 SWB featured in the following clip from Mercedes-Benz was owned by Elvis Presley.
The Mercedes-Benz 600, or Grosser Mercedes, is one of those timeless vehicles that needs no explanation. Favored by heads of state, celebrities and well-heeled businesspersons, some 600s are still regularly used to this day, as many believe that even a Maybach can’t stand up to what this car has to offer. Here we have a VERY original, one owner short wheelbase 600 in need of another caretaker for the next 40 years.
The seller states:
Purchased new 11/28/1968. The only 600 ever sold new in Columbus, Ohio. Owned by local attorney since day 1. Always maintained and preserved at the local Mercedes dealership where it always received everything it needed and more as can be attested to by the extensive service file which comes with the car.
Car was recently driven 500 miles to the M100 clubs annual meet where it was recognized as one of the best original cars in existence. Silver with black leather. Paint is mostly original although it has had some touch-ups over the years and an extra door protection strip added. The original black leather is still soft and supple. It has a factory optional sunroof and beverage cooler. It comes complete with all the books and records, the toolkit with all the tools, the hydraulic kit with all the parts, the air suspension kit inside the spare wheel with all the parts, and the spare parts kit in the styrofoam box stored in the left trunk compartment. The tires are almost new Michelins with less than 1000 miles, 205/75/15XL. Everything operates as intended in every system. There are no mickey mouse parts on this car. It has factory original exhaust system in good condition. The chrome is bright and shiny with just a few minor imperfections. The car has absolutely no rust ever.
Being sold to settle estate. You won’t find too many left like this one. SL Market Letter lists this car in #2 condition at $150,000. We are offering the car at 1/3 off for quick sale. Enjoy it while it appreciates! This car is 100% handmade and is the 540K of the future. It is the finest automobile ever made by any company and soon will be recognized in the 1 million dollar range.
While $100,000 may seem a bit steep for what is essentially a used vehicle, consider how much it would cost to put everything right on a vehicle like this. What we see here is a rare instance of a well cared for classic, one that is sure to appreciate in the future.
And if you weren’t aware, famed motoring journalist Jeremy Clarkson owns one:
The seller has had this listed a couple times on eBay and it hasn’t sold. It is listed as a 1976, but while that may be how it was registered I’m certain this car was converted in the early 1980s. It is riding on the W126 500SEC based chassis, not as the seller states the 116. The engine is the 6.9 liter out of the 116 based 450SEL 6.9, though. (edit: This model is on the W116 chassis, unlike the 5.0 liter versions that came on the W126.)
While this one is an automatic, these cars were available with a 5 speed manual and with a bi-turbo engine 5.0. When new these cars started at 250,000 German marks.
The seller might want to go with more classic rims and include more information and pictures of the engine bay if they want to get anything close to the $90,000 ask price.
At first look this indeed looks like a W126 chassis vehicle. This has the W116 dash, something I easily recognize from my days of 6.9 ownership, and distinctive U.S. market 116 servo climate control center console, something my 6.9 didn’t have being grey market.
Two sources I used in digging up some info, Customizing and Tuning Mercedes by Heitz and Neff and Extraordinary Automobiles by Vann and Asaria both list Sbarro as using 500SEC W126 chassis as the basis for these conversions, calling it first the Shahin 1000 and then the 500 Portes Papillon Gullwing. It turns out they did use 116 chassis parts when using the 6.9 liter engine as opposed to the 5.0 or the 5.0 twin turbo option. Apparently the 6.9 motor was not available with the twin turbo option. It was one or the other, though who knows, money could lead companies like this to do strange things for customers.
There is also some wonderful additional photos and information available over at 1000sel.com and this Sbarro Shahin website which quotes directly from the Vann book and uses the same photos from that book.
The ultimate autobahn cruiser of its time and then some. Nothing could touch the Mercedes 6.9 in terms of might and comfort. Following in the tradition of the Mercedes 6.3, this was also the fastest four door sedan in the world when new. 100 MPH on the highway could be enjoyed as long as the fuel in the tank held out. The 6.9 liter (417 cu. in.) engine made bursts into the 140s attainable if needed.
The car’s impressive hydro-pneumatic suspension, operating at over 2000 psi provided silky smooth road manners and kept the car on an even plain on hard launches and braking. The system is however expensive to service if not maintained properly. Unmaintained 6.9s can be spotted by their lowrider like appearance as the suspension settles. Vacuum operated cruise, door locks, and trunk were nice features as well. Also of note is the car’s impressive 12 (!) quart dry sump lubrication system. This allowed for better oiling during a spirited workout and made it possible to cram the monster engine under the hood. The oil reservoir is mounted near the fender instead of in a pan underneath. Taking this car in to your local quick oil change place was not considered a viable option as you would either end up with a drained transmission pan or an engine short half a case of oil.
Genuine AMG vehicles of this era are hard to document. The factory didn’t keep great records so knowing a cars history is important.
is an interesting case since it has been restored and has a new engine rebuild. The seller seems to know his stuff in terms of the 6.9, so likely there is no deal to be found here, just a chance to take ownership of mighty Merc. This car is also unique in that it is a a U.S. delivery Euro car. It has the good looking Euro headlights, but does that mean it has the Euro engine horsepower. With the new pistons it probably doesn’t matter. It also has leather which Euro cars did not have. Cali 6.9s were restricted down to 250 horsepower with emissions garbage. While full blown Euro spec cars hit nearly 300 with a meaty 420 lb ft of torque. Torque figures like that were scarcely seen anywhere outside muscle cars or dump trucks, neither of which could compete with a 6.9 in terms of all around enjoyment.
This car has some neat AMG options like the correct AMG steering wheel and 300 KPH speedometer, as well as an old style AMG trunk badge. Mercedes offered the 6.9 with debadging as an option. You could go super stealth with nothing on the trunk lid or just leave the small 6.9 tag minus the 450SEL label.
Full on AMG 6.9s with complete mono color body kit, blacked out trim, the Penta wheels and engine add ons like AMG cams are extremely rare and extremely good looking creatures. This one definitely qualifies as a stage 1 AMG, but doesn’t have the full treatment.
Having owned a full euro spec 6.9 I can attest with great vigor to the pleasure of driving these cars. The road manners and power are just amazing particularly considering the time period these cars were produced, think gas shortage and American luxo-barges.
There is plenty of information online about the 6.9 if you want to go look, but quickly here is a look at the 6.9 suspension being operated manually (the lever sits on top of the steering wheel):
and here is a link to the famous Brock Yates article about his experience thrashing a show room stock U.S. spec car around Road Atlanta for 100 miles. This is a fantastic article and reminds us that all cars are not created equal. Make sure to note the part about getting 5.9 MPG.
Below I’ve included a picture from one of my vintage AMG brochures, one of the only AMG brochures to show a 6.9, and a Flickr photo showing how the full 6.9 AMG package compares to this eBay listing in terms of looks. The sturdy lines of the 116 chassis Benz with AMG accoutrement in my mind are still some of the best and coupled with the formidable engine this is a package that 30 years later is still surprisingly sophisticated.
Lastly just for fun here are some 6.9s in the movies showing their stuff.
Ronin, scroll to about 4:50 for the good stuff:
Lost Highway, gets good about 1:00, R for language:
And of course Claude Lelouch’s C’etait un Rendez Vous, the film that started the “getaway” movie genre. Though the sound dubbed in is that of a Ferrari the car actually used was a 6.9. View the making of video to see the 6.9 with the camera mount.
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