1968 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.3 Saloon
By combining the massive M100 6.3-litre V8 engine originally developed for the 600 Grosser with the smaller, lighter bodyshell of the W109 S-Class sedan, Mercedes-Benz created an executive hot-rod of the finest order. Beginning a lineage that can be traced to the AMG 6.3 models of the modern era, the original 300SEL 6.3 was a revelation when it hit the streets in 1969. Here was a sober, respectable German luxury sedan that, at first glance, could be easily mistaken for a six-cylinder 250 beloved of taxi drivers, yet was capable of outrunning many sports cars of the era. Many 6.3 drivers in Europe opted to delete the badges that were, along with slightly fatter tyres, the only external clues to the potential that lurked beneath the bonnet. With Bosch mechanical fuel injection and an overhead camshaft for each bank of cylinders, the V8 developed 250 bhp, delivered to the rear wheels via a fluid coupling and four-speed automatic transmission. The air suspension system already in use on the 600 was adopted along with ventilated disc brakes all round to cope with the high speeds the new 6.3 was intended for. More than four decades on, the big Benz's performance figures still impress, with a 0-60 mph time of just 6.3 seconds, the standing quarter-mile in 14.2 seconds and a top speed of 140 mph. Seriously expensive when new, it's hardly surprising the big Mercedes-Benz was built in limited numbers and just 6526 left the Stuttgart factory before production ceased in 1972. Once described by Road & Track magazine as '?merely the greatest sedan in the world' the 300SEL 6.3 is now gaining recognition as a true collector's item and is routinely voted as one of the finest four-door cars ever made.