Story by Will Silk
This edition of Classified Ads from the Past features an advertisement for a rare Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL racing saloon with an impressive history. The ad for this particular 300 SEL was originally run in the May, 1972 issue of Road & Track Magazine.
Many think of Mercedes-Benz as the ultimate in luxury car technology from Germany, and with very good reason, as the marque departed racing after the 1955 Le Mans tragedy to concentrate on the building of high-quality automobiles for road going use. However, Detroit was not the only place in the mid-1960s that was enjoying a horsepower-driven frenzy of excitement by taking large car power plants and shoe-horning them into smaller models to create some of the most impressive performing machinery the world has ever seen. Stuttgart, the capital city of Baden-Wurttemberg in southern Germany, has long been home to Mercedes-Benz. In 1966, Mercedes was looking to create something the world had never truly seen, a super saloon.
The mid-1960s saw sports car racing gathering momentum across the globe, but deep in southern Germany an engineer by the name of Erich Waxenberger was working on stuffing the M100 6.3 liter V8 from the 600 Limousine into the smaller 300 SEL sedan. By early 1968, Waxenberger’s mission was fulfilled, and the new Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL would debut at the spring Geneva Show. The world raised its eyebrows a bit at this new four door super car. Racers and tuning firms, however, saw immediate potential with the new machine, and just a year later, the 300 SEL would debut in race trim at the Spa 24 Hours Race.
Jackie Ickx and Hans Hermann were set to make the racing debut for the 300 SEL at Spa in 1969. The Ickx/Hermann car qualified 2nd before being with drawn along with the other two 300 SELs that Mercedes-Benz had entered that year. The car featured in this edition of Classified Ads from the Past is the car that qualified 4th in 1969 at Spa, being piloted by Rauno Aaltonen of Finland and Dieter Glemser of Germany. The third entry, piloted by Kurt Ahrens and Erich Waxenberger, had qualified 6th for the event.
It would not be until 1971, again at Spa, that a Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL would turn a wheel in anger. This time, the entry was by a young tuning firm known as AMG from Burgstall, Germany; which would arrive with a red 300 SEL that the firm’s engine guru, Erhard Melcher, had modified substantially. Increased in displacement to 6.8 liters and with over 420 horsepower, the bright red car wearing race number 35 would qualify 5th in the hands of Clemens Schickentanz that weekend. Schickentanz and his team mate Hans Heyer would go onto finish 2nd overall in the race and launch the dynasty that has become Mercedes-AMG today.
With the car featured in this article being one of the three original Daimler Benz entries from Spa in 1969, it is safe to say the with such a history that whomever purchased the car at $25,000.00 from the ad featured here, would surely be pleased with the return that this incredibly rare and off-beat race car would offer if brought onto the market today.
[Source: Road & Track]