Rare 1972 Mercedes Benz 300 SEL 4.5
Very Nice Two-Owner Example Including Complete Factory Books & Maintenance Documentation
We are pleased to present this relatively limited production 1972 300 SEL 4.5 liter. Many of the Mercedes-Benz cars on the market today are not cars that we would consider worthy of consideration for our customers that are seeking high quality, pre-owned collector cars. Often, the cars have not received the necessary maintenance and have not been serviced by a Mercedes-Benz dealer or qualified technicians. That is certainly not the case with this 300 SEL 4.5. This Mercedes is one of the nicest examples of a 300 SEL that we have had the pleasure of offering for sale.
The cars first owner was “Skitch” Henderson, who purchased the car new on 9/29/72. Mr. Henderson was best known for a career at NBC spanning 1951 to 1966, he succeeded Arturo Toscanini as music director for NBC Television and was the original conductor of the orchestras for The Tonight Show and The Today Show. His extensive musical accomplishments can be seen in the above link. After over 40 years of ownership, he sold the car to the second and current owner who registered the car in California on 4/11/13.
The car carries a clear California title and current registration with California license plates. The Mercedes retains its original factory engine and chassis, with the numbers supported and documented in the original factory delivery documents. The current mileage showing on the odometer is 321 miles but the mileage is represented as TMU (Total Miles Unknown) due to the age of the car. The current owner estimates that he has added approximately 3K miles during his 9+ years of ownership and has had the car regularly service and followed the recommendations of Mercedes repair specialists who have serviced the car. Repair receipts are shown in the listing and highlighted in the >Maintenance” section below. Due to the age of the car, it is smog exempt in California and many other states. With a car of this pedigree, the buyer can anticipate many future years and miles of pleasurable driving.
The following documentation is included, all in the original tan case:
- Owner’s Manual 300 SEL 4.5
- Service Booklet with maintenance stamps
- 3 Original keys
- Operations Service & Warranty Policy
- Directory for Dealers
- Becker Auto Radio brochure
- Factory transmission fluid brochure
- File of maintenance / repair receipts
Mercedes-Benz dealer service is recorded in the included, original MBZ Service Booklet. Subsequently, the 2nd owner had considerable maintenance performed by qualified Mercedes Benz technicians in California. A summary of notable repairs/maintenance performed by the current owner are listed below. Also shown is how long ago the repairs were completed. All repairs were done within the estimated 3K miles accumulated during the current owner’s care. The most recent repairs includes the following:
- <100 miles ago, March 2023 – Replace power steering pump, hose, seal kit and fluid.
- <100 miles ago – January 2023 – Oil service, replace power steering filter, new shifter bushings, replace exhaust hanger.
- <1K miles ago – Replace battery & check battery/alternator condition, lube rear swing arm bracket mounting bearings.
- <1K miles ago – Annual service check. Oil service and check/top of fluids, front right door needs a door lock actuator (not repaired but all other door locks work) Replace accelerator linkage pivot bushing, replace shifter light bulb. Recommend power steering pump replacement (repair completed subsequently)
- <1K miles ago – Replace water pump, hoses, gaskets, clamps, and coolant. Drain fuel tank and replace feed hose to pump, new fuel level sensor. Replace front suspension level sensor and reattach suspension rod.
Additional minor and maintenance / repair history can be seen on the detailed repair invoices.
In addition to the above repairs/maintenance, the owner had the car inspected by a Mercedes specialist when he purchase it in 2013. The included invoices document a considerable amount of mechanical and cosmetic repairs too lengthy to list including work to the interior , exterior, and mechanical components in an effort to freshen the Mercedes and bring it up to the new owner’s high standards. Details can be seen on the included receipts from Doktor-Benz.
The Mercedes is finished in its original factory produced “Dark Olive” color code #291 with a Cognac interior. The car reportedly received a complete respray completed by the car’s first long-term owner of 40+ years. The paint is in beautiful overall condition high gloss, even, and free from orange peel, fading, or cracking. Minor touch-ups have been made, but there is no indication of partial panel painting since the complete, high quality respray was completed. There is no indication of body panel replacement with panel fit reflecting the high German quality of the era of hand-built cars. Doors, trunk and hood close solidly as expected from the high-quality build of the 300 SEL 4.5. The paint and body are free from any significant dents, dings or imperfections. The provided “Walk-Around Video” highlights minor imperfections including minor patina on the front trim, touch-up around headlights, cracking front and rear windshield rubbers, and a few very minor chips in the paint. Overall, the car is striking, and the minor flaws do not detract from the lovely overall appearance of the 300 SEL. Wheels are factory stock with color matched Mercedes logo wheel covers. Tires are 195/75/R14” Michelin Symmetry whitewalls showing excellent tread but are older with date codes of 2000 & 2001 and should be replaced for high speed or long-distance driving. Except for the windshield, all glass is in excellent condition retaining the original Sekurit markings.
The exterior trim is mostly original except for left- and right-hand rocker panel moldings and seals completed that were replaced by the current owner. The lower rocker panels are straight and rust free with one dent from a misplaced jack near the right-side rocker jacking point. The dent can be seen in the undercarriage photographs. Please view the “Walk-around” and “Functional” videos that provide even greater details regarding the details of the cars condition.
The Cognac interior is accented by high-quality wood and has been properly cared for, showing minor imperfections, and some failing wood around the door windows, but still retaining its original beauty. The interior is in great overall condition with an indication that the front seats were reupholstered in color coordinated material to match the original color of the seating surfaces. Seating surfaces are free from rips, tears or major damage showing only minor signs of wear and tear but no loss of structural integrity. The “Functional” video outlines the imperfections in details including some crazing on the steering wheel, normal wear given the age of the car on the door panels, a few minor dash cracks, but no significant or notable marks to the seating surfaces, center console, or dashboard.
The carpets are clean and the floorboards underneath totally solid and tidy. All instrumentation is functional, and the gauges display acceptable readings. Lighting systems, Becker radio and electric antenna work, locks are functional (except for the front passenger side), and wipers and electric sunroof function as designed. The headliner appears to be original and in good condition. The rear package tray contains speakers that are also mounted in the front kick panels. The air conditioning does not blow cold but the compressor kicks in and can be heard in the included video. The condition of the carpeting, rear seats and side surfaces, and other soft interior surfaces are all in very presentable condition and the photos accurately depict their condition.
The engine is clean, free from oil, grease and accumulation of fluids. Under the hood, the beautiful V8 engine is clean and unmodified from new, highlighted by elegant and purposeful castings displaying distinct insignias, all nestled in a remarkably clean engine compartment. It shows signs of excellent maintenance by the cars two owners. The trunk is very clean and contains the original vinyl mat , a matching whitewall spare, but no tool kit.
The underside of the car is solid and free from rust through or rot, only minimal patina consistent with the age of the car and the front and rear show chips and scratches that are not visible unless the car is on a lift. Floor pans are solid and while certain areas show possible previous repair although the current owner is unaware of any details of damage or repair. There in no indication of structural compromise. The suspension is stock and in good condition having received attention within the past few thousand miles (air suspension shown operating in Functional Video). Exhaust is dual with chrome tipped and stock in configuration. While the tires show good tread, based on being ~20 years old, replacement is recommended based on their age. The fuel tank reflects recent removal for repairs.
The car starts, runs, and drives per original specifications delivering a capable V8 exhaust note. Driving manners are impressive with a combination of power and poise for a saloon of this era. The combination of the automatic transmission and torquey V8 engine delivers excellent performance for a sedan of this weight. Handling is surprisingly good, and the suspension properly adjusts to the various factory ride heights. Both city and highway driving are very comfortable even with the sunroof in the open position.
- Passed the California required safety inspection for working wipers, turn signals, lights, brakes, etc.
- Current California registration and clear California title
SPECIFICATIONS OF THE 1972 MERCEDES 300SEL 4.5
- Length 196.85”
- Wheelbase 112.2”
- Width 72.26”
- Height 56.69”
- Front Axle 58.35”
- Rear Axle 58.46
- Curb weight 3,869 lbs.
- Engine 4.5 liter V8
- Transmission 3- Speed Automatic / RWD
- Brakes Disc 4-Wheel – Power Assisted
- Electrical 12 Volt
- Suspension Front – Double Wishbone / Anti-Roll Bar Rear – Anti Roll Bar
HISTORY OF THE MERCEDES-BENZ 300 SEL 4.5
The 1972-1973 Mercedes SEL was available as the W109 (more luxuriously appointed) and the W108 (a base model) and represented the North American equivalent for the 3.5 liter that was produced for the “rest of the World.” It was built from 1971-1972 and represented the last of the hand-built S-Class sedans that have become sought after collectibles. 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 4.5 and those with other power plants are the most iconic models in their history.
These super Saloons paved the way for future luxury limos with their understated elegance and high performance for the period. Records suggest that only 2,533 examples were built during the two years of production, The 300 SEL 4.5 was equipped with the M117 4.5-liter engine and available only in the United States. The naturally aspirated 4.5 liter was equipped with Bosch D SOHC indirect fuel delivery. It produced 195hp at 4,500 rpm with 358 lb. peak torque. Considering the cars hefty weight, the cars produced impressive period performance including ¼ mile times of under 17 seconds.
The 300 SEL’s handling was excellent due to its touring suspension. The solid sedan was nimble & quick and was fitted with 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 focused on safety, speed, and reliability then and through today’s offerings.
The interior was luxurious featuring burled walnut trim, power windows, leather interior, and air conditioning. While the interiors were lovely, Mercedes continued to focus on safety including crumple zones front and rear and doors that were designed to neither jam shut or open during a violent impact. Styling was a consideration, but functionality was all-important.
Many Mercedes-Benz cars are destined to become classics but the 300 SEL sedans have global appeal among collectors due to their performance, amenities, and exclusivity.