Meet The Parents: The Grandfather of All Fast Saloon Cars

This week a fantastic Mercedes-Benz 300SL 6.3 has been added to the showroom, and we believe this is a very significant car in the Mercedes-Benz back catalogue. Why? We’ll explain…

Long before the AMG badge appeared on production cars, 4 years before BMW founded the M Division and more than 10 years before Audi Sport came into existence, Mercedes-Benz produced the fastest ever 4 door production saloon car. The rest, as we say, is history.

Erich Waxenberger goodshoutmedia

The story goes that renowned Mercedes-Benz engineer Erich Waxenberger was told by a motoring journalist that he was making ‘granny’ cars… Displeased by the comments, in his own time he diligently shoehorned the 6.3 litre V8 engine from the 600 Pullman Limousine into a 300SEL Saloon.

Whilst testing the car out of hours, he happened to fly past the open window of an office that a member of Mercedes-Benz top brass was working in… The director stormed out of the office, asked what the car was and immediately demanded one for himself.

The 300 SEL 6.3 was a masterstroke; a car capable of carrying 5 occupants in great comfort at more than 120mph, an incredible feat for the 1960s. It was praised by the press at the time as ‘the greatest saloon car in the world’, praise indeed when luxury saloon car competition came from Rolls Royce and Cadillac.

To further prove the concept, Waxenberger took the 300 SEL 6.3 to Macau, entering in the 6 hour endurance race to prove it could cope with hour after hour of demanding driving. In the testing that followed, Waxenburger met up with a Mr Hans Werner-Aufrecht, one of the founding fathers of the company we would affectionally know as AMG.

These two pioneers then began experimenting with increased air flow and bore, resulting in the famous Red Pig – a 6.8 litre race prepared version of the 300 SEL, a car that would take second place in the 1971 24 hours of Spa race.

The 300 SEL 6.3 proved to the world not only that an unassuming car could pack a significant punch, but that such a car would be hugely popular and commercially viable, carving a path for many great cars of the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 00s.

If it wasn’t for Waxenberger’s creative (and genius) response to the journalist’s comments, the AMG and Mercedes-Benz relationship may never have come into fruition…

The 300SEL 6.3 is the founding father of the sports saloon movement, making it a hugely important car to enthusiasts, collectors and investors alike. Writing in 2020, a world without the E55 / E63 AMG Mercedes or BMW M5, Audi RS6 or even Lotus Carlton would seem to be a very strange place indeed. The 300SEL and the cars that copied the format are now staples of the classic car movement, making a good 300SEL a very sound investment indeed. We have one for sale here.

The famous Red Pig
The 300SEL 6.3, now available in our showroom.
Erich Waxenberger 1971-Mercedes-AMG-300SEL-6.8-The-Red-Pig-4
The Red Pig with it’s offspring. W123, W210, R230, W202, R129.