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70's 'Bahn-Beater: 1978 450SEL 6.9 Euro

It’s midnight on the autobahn circa 1979 and something large flies past you well in excess of triple digits. If we had to guess, a black on black top-of-the-line 450SEL 6.9 fits the scenario nicely. Located northwest of Hartford, Connecticut, this 6.9 liter (417 cubic inch) long wheelbase sedan shows about 132,000 miles and presents well from a distance but the post is quite honest in representing it as a running, driving, project.

The first two things that stand out are the European-style glass headlights with integrated yellow fog lights and those wheels. Oh those wheels, the seller notes they are 16” diameter by 8” width Zender Turbo wheels. Notably larger than the stock 15” wheels that the 6.9 came with, they are just the right amount of retrofuture to take all that black and chrome to another level. Also of note are what look to be US spec bumpers likely fitted when the vehicle was federalized during import 40 or so years back.

The wheels could do with refinishing with light corrosion working into the center cap already. The chrome fender arch trim is a matter of taste, but here is a concern given the rust they might be hiding based on the rust seen elsewhere on the vehicle.

The paint is far from perfect and has been painted over at least once, with scratches, cracks, and peeling noticeable around the body. Given that pristine survivors or partially restored examples go for at least 2.5x-3.5x the asking price here, requiring a complete repaint shouldn’t put off the type of buyer that knows the presence and performance this car has when clean. However…

The exposure this vehicle has seen will give some interested parties pause. There is no noticeable delamination of the rear window but please inspect for rust around the window chrome trim.

The interior is in fair shape with repairs likely needed on the drivers left side bolster and very noticeable cracks in the dashboard (true to a sunburnt California car).

The photos of rust along the rocker panel and undercarriage are concerning, but not beyond repair. This is probably the ugliest side of this 6.9, though the camera flash does it no favors.

A look under the hood shows the air cleaner isn’t present, and plenty of originality including the hydraulic pump (the cylindrical item just right of the cap and facing towards the front of the car) and the hydraulic fluid reservoir at the lower right of the photo. All 6.9s came with a fully hydraulic suspension on all four wheels. A wonderful system when it works, but can cost big money to repair with one of the few specialist shops left in the country if the hydraulic rams are leaking or the leveling blocks aren’t functioning. The nitrogen-filled rubber-bladder spheres that act as shock absorbers fail every 10-15 years and are a maintenance item. The seller’s description suggests that only one corner is troubled, and the lines themselves can be repaired by any competent hydraulic repair shop.

Although the asking price seems high when focusing on the negatives, these cars with this kind of mileage are not available at four-figure price points very often. Especially in this classic color combination. Despite the good initial impression, a few ugly spots and some systems badly in need of attention, this deserves to be saved and driven for what it is and for those incredibly unique wheels.

Before you walk away from what looks to be a lot of project, take one look at the lone 6.9 badging on the trunk that reminds everyone that this European version has 286 hp (+36 hp over US versions) and 406 lb-ft of torque (+46 lb-ft). A very reasonable candidate for those looking to “fix it while you drive it”


Original posting:

Contact: Orrie at (860) 782-1554

Northwestern Connecticut

1978 Mercedes-Benz 450 SEL 6.9 Euro Spec.

Mileage: 132,764

Asking Price: $8,200

Seller’s Description:

Mercedes-Benz 6.9 Euro Spec.

VIN: 11603612000917

-California car, with Sunroof.

-Runs well (idle seems a hair low)

-Drives and stops without any scary noises etc.

-New battery, fuel pump and filter.

-16 x 8" Zender Turbo rims low mileage Michelins.

-Solid floors - only 1 quarter sized hole in right rear passenger floor under carpet (shown).

-Solid spare tire well and trunk wells.

-One hydraulic line need to be replaced (front left fender).

-Front left shock is failing, so wood keeps oversized 16" tire from rubbing.

-Hood mounts bases are rotted.

Front right body mount is rough (shown) but the others are clean.

Car has been resprayed at some point, paint is fair, chips, dings and scratches.

Original trunk mat, spare tire and jack.

A rare European spec. (39/40HP more than U.S. spec.).

Calls preferred.



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