The Unrelenting Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 4.5
Available in the 108 and 109 chassis designation, the 4.5L V8 was the North American equivalent of the 3.5L V8 for the “Rest of the world”. It was built from 1971-1972 as the 280SE 4.5, 280 SEL 4.5, and 300 SEL 4.5…per Mercedes-Benz
The last of the classic hand-built S-Class series are highly sought after collectibles. The traditional Mercedes-Benz of old was the classic W108 and W109 platforms. These were high-profile vehicles featured in movies, books, and other media. Mercedes-Benz had a trio of formidable saloons built on the W109 platform. This was the last of the classy-curvy sculpted architecture. The Mercedes-Benz 6.3, 6.9, and 4.5 are the most iconic models in their history. The Mercedes-Benz W108 and W109 are luxury cars produced by Mercedes-Benz from 1965 through to 1972 and 1973 in North America only.
These super saloons paved the way for future luxury-limos with their understated elegance and high performance. The Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 4.5 was a formidable super saloon available only in the US. Stuttgart turned out three exemplary examples of automotive art consecutively. The 300 SEL 4.5 was made from 1971-1972 with only 2,533 built and remains a perennial favorite among auto enthusiasts world-wide.
The Series W108 & W109 were extremely successful during their tenure from 1965 through 1972. A total of 383,361 vehicles were built. The W109 premiered at the Frankfort Auto Show in 1965. It was the long wheelbase variant with a pneumatic suspension. The 300 SEL 4.5 saloon was equipped with the M117 4.5 litre V8 engine and available only one additional model year (192 models as 1973 models) for the US market exclusively. This is why one hardly ever sees anything about it in print. This power plant is less expensive to maintain than the Goliath 6.3 litre V8.
The naturally aspirated 4.5 litre was equipped with Bosch D-Jetronic SOHC with indirect injection fuel delivery. It delivered 195 hp @ 4,500 rpm with 358 NM of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm. That engine packed the famous Mercedes-punch! It went from 0-60 in 9.6 seconds and when you take the car’s weight into consideration, this is an outstanding figure coming from a limousine. The 300 SEL 4.5 saloons could do the quarter mile in 17.1 seconds.
The robust 4.5 litre V8 delivers 195 hp @ 4,500 rpm
358 Nm of peak torque @ 3,000 rpm
The 300 SEL 4.5 handled excellently because of its touring suspension. This was a solid saloon that was nimble and quick. It rode on double wishbones, air springs and stabilizer bar up front with a swing axle, radius arms, air and rubber springs fitted to the rear. Four-wheel power assisted disc brakes were standard. Mercedes-Benz focused on safety, speed, and reliability always right through today’s offerings.
The interior featured burled walnut, power windows and leather upholstery. Back then, the focal point of the interior was ergonomic design and convenience. Aesthetics were triggered by US design in the 1970s and 1980s which is why you now see luxury saloons world-wide as luxurious as they became. They were all inspired by “Yankee” sedans! However, the foreign cars taught us safety.
The cabin of a Mercedes-Benz is designed to cradle one in the event of a collision. Seating, padding, etc, all comes together to network safety…..like each of the 300 SEL 4.5’s doors were designed neither to jam-shut nor burst-open during violent impact. Both front and rear of the car had crumple-zones designed to accordion at a controlled rate upon impact. A Mercedes-Benz wasn’t designed to be pretty, but functional.
Mercedes-Benz automobiles are mostly all destined to become classics. The 6.3, 6.9, and the 4.5 litre saloons will always be favorites among collectors around the globe because of their monstrous performance and their rare exclusivity. The indomitable 6.3 litre saloon with its engine plucked fresh from the Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman limousine engine bay, the 450 SEL 6.9 saloon and its “Dry-Sump” lubrication system and a maintenance schedule that is practically non-existent, and the 300 SEL 4.5 with its “avant-garde” enigma are all hallmarks of the Mercedes-Benz Dynasty. These three performance limos are in the automobile hall of fame, as they have left their indelible impressions in the history of the automobile. Do a search on my home page to read about the 6.9 & 6.3 saloons. Click on the photos to enlarge them for detail.
Keep an eye for more Mercedes-Benz history.
All 300SELs delivered to the USA came only with full leather interiors, not MB-tex as was available in lesser models. High quality velour was available in other markets.
I have a 300SEL 4.5 with velour interior. Impoted from USA 2006.
Thanks James. This story was written back when I had a friend proof reading my work. Unfortunately he used a lot of his own views many of which recently I have corrected. I am my own admin now. Thanks for stopping by, come back soon. Sorry I didn’t reply sooner, I also ghost write for many automotive periodicals.
Yes you are quite correct, but the 1973 model year was only available to North America. I am sorry, maybe I should have noted this in the article. The one photographed is a Euro-spec Benz that was sold by my friend’s dealership. This article was posted back in the day when I had a friend proof-reading my articles for me. I do all of my admin work myself now. There are a few things here and there I never got to correct. I am going to do follow-up stories about the Mercedes-Benz models from this genre. They are now coveted classics. Thanks for taking the time to read my article! Come back again, I’ll have more for you soon! I feel like an octopus, I write so many stories all at once.
Nit picking, I know, but the 300SEL 4.5s that were registered as 1973s were all left over 1972s; production of all 108/109 chassis ended in the fall of 1972.
I own a 1973 Mercedes 300 SEL – with the M117 4.5 liter V8 engin. 60,000 miles – Original owner.
I am interested in selling it. Do you know the asking price or anyone who would be interested in buying it?
The 300 SEL 4.5 saloon was equipped with the M117 4.5 litre V8 engine and available only one additional model year (192 models as 1973 models) for the US market exclusively. This is why one hardly ever sees anything about it in print.
5000$ if everything looks good?
It’s my car, I bought it seven years ago, and imported the car to the Netherlands. Worked on the engine a last year, also the airsuspension is repared, everything works fine now , also the central locking system. Now comes the bad part, last week my dad took the car for a ride, and he hit a lamp post with the rearend, tomorrow we go for a spare bumper.
This car is a real beauty! If I were you I would not let others drive it. Keep it in the garage. This is tomorrow’s classic today. It will continue to appreciate favorably to unbelievable heights the older it gets. The more of these rare cars that disappears, the greater the value. They don’t make ’em like this anymore. Computerized components have replaced hydraulic and manual assemblies. The newer MB models are obscenely expensive to repair. Take care of this car and it will take care of you!
Thank’s for your comment, I will post a link too a photo when the car is done.