We imagine it’s pretty hard to get Jay Leno giddy when it comes to classic cars, but it looks like all it might take is a $5,000 Mercedes-Benz with 327,000 miles on the odometer. That car just so happens to be a 1972 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, which the car-loving funnyman refers to as a “German supercar” as he details the 43-year-old sedan in the latest episode of Jay Leno’s Garage.
Leno says he bought the clapped-out Benz seven years ago as a project with the goal of slapping a drivetrain from an SLS AMG underneath the body. After consulting his followers, he decided instead to keep the car as Mercedes had intended rather than turn it into a Stuttgart restomod.
The heart of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 was its 300-horsepower, 6.3-liter V-8 that was made possible thanks to the “money-no-object” Mercedes 600. Leno says that the “6.3” badge on the trunk was about as desired to German drivers as the “Hemi” badge was in America. And this car had the performance to back it up, too, with quarter-mile times said to be in the 14-second range. This Mercedes was so powerful and so refined that Leno considers the 2015 Dodge Charger Hellcat as a modern-day equivalent, and he even went as far to say that it is his “favorite Mercedes-Benz to drive."
After watching the video, it’s clear that Leno’s decision to keep the 300 SEL 6.3 intact wasn’t just based on the feedback from his viewers. He has a recognizable fondness for this car and its glorious engine that dates back to a dealership job he had in his 20s, which most car lovers can all trace back similar experiences. Leno spends most of the 20-minute video waxing nostalgic about his Mercedes, while providing plenty of excellent details about the Tri-Star as well.
Click past the jump to read more about the 1972 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3.
The 1972 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 was built from 1968 through 1972 with a total of 6,526 units being produced. One of the more interesting aspects of this car is its back story, which Leno definitely hits all the high points. It was conceived by a Mercedes engineer named Erich Waxenberger, who developed the car in secret because Mercedes didn’t think that such a car would be popular. That obviously wasn’t the case as Leno says that the “response was overwhelming” – even for a $14,000 car.
In addition to its powerful engine, the 300 SEL 6.3 was given a smooth ride and a luxurious interior making it the perfect sleeper of a cruiser. According to Leno, this bruiser of a sedan had the same allure as many American muscle cars, but it also had all of the distinction of a Mercedes product with a well-appointed cabin that included leather and real wood trim as well as an air suspension setup and four-wheel disc brakes for a smoother, more compliant ride. After the four-year production run, the 300 SEL 6.3 was eventually succeeded in 1975 by the equally lust-worthy Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9.