1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SE ‘Fintail’ Sedan
Following the outbreak of the First World War in 1914, Europe’s car industry was decimated. In Germany both Daimler and Benz went back to producing cars post-war, however, times were tough. A merger between Daimler and Benz would ensure that both companies survived and following a technical co-operation agreement in 1924, the companies formally merged on the 1st July 1926. Mercedes-Benz was born!
Subsequently, Mercedes-Benz went on to build some of the greatest cars of all time. The cars from Stuttgart bearing the three-pointed star all had one thing in common . . . they were renowned for their technical innovation, build quality, luxury and performance.
In 1951 Mercedes-Benz introduced the Type W187 220 Series cars, which was the first model to be powered by a 6 cylinder engine post World War II. This model was a great success and built in relatively big numbers. In the 1950’s Mercedes-Benz produced one of the greatest cars of all time – the iconic 300 SL Gullwing and 300 SL Roadster. Whilst fabulous sporting cars, they were very expensive and generally sold to the rich and famous. The Type W186 and Type W189 300 series four door luxury tourers were built alongside the Type W198 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster and they were indeed fabulous cars in their own right, though still very expensive. Mercedes-Benz wanted to build full sized luxury cars that were ‘more affordable’ than the Type W186 and Type W189 300 series cars, so the Ponton range of cars (Type W120/W121/W105/W180/W128) filled that void nicely.
In 1959 Mercedes-Benz introduced the Type W111 as a successor to the very successful Ponton. The Type W111 was built as a sedan, coupe and convertible with many different engine configurations. The sedans were sold in big numbers all over the world, however, as has been the tradition with Mercedes-Benz the two door and convertible cars were built in far smaller numbers and carried a significant price premium. The majority of the Type W111 models were powered by a 6 cylinder engine of varying capacity, ranging from 2195cc (220 series) through to 2778cc (280 series). In 1969 Mercedes-Benz introduced a new 3499cc V8 engine which they fitted to the Type W111 coupes and cabriolets.
In 1961 Mercedes-Benz introduced their then flagship model the 300 SE or Type W112. These cars were finished with a more luxurious interior than the Type W111 and had standard luxury features such as power steering, automatic transmission and pneumatic self levelling suspension. They were powered by Mercedes-Benz’ 2,996cc fuel injected 6 cylinder engine (Type M189) which was first used in the 300d pillarless limousine of 1957. This was essentially a detuned version of the engines used in the 300 SL Gullwing and Roadster. Like the Type W111, the Type W112 was also built as a sedan, coupe and convertible. The sedan was based on the Type W111 Fintail, whereas the coupe and convertible were based on the more sedate Type W111 220 SE with no fins!
Oldtimer Australia is delighted to offer for sale a 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300 SE ‘Fintail’ Sedan. At the time of writing we are waiting on the factory data card to arrive for this car. What we do know is that this is an Australian delivered, factory right hand drive example, confirmed by its York Motors (Sydney) tag, which notes stock number MB438. The body tag notes the car’s colour as DB140N, which is light grey.
We have traced the car back to an owner in Wadonga in country Victoria who sold it in December 2012 to a Cathay Pacific pilot who lived in Perth. At the time of sale the car was registered as VAJ 068 in Victoria and the odometer was at 27,767 miles. Whilst in Perth this Mercedes-Benz 300 SE was maintained by marque specialists and a significant sum of money was spent on the car. The airbags were replaced in April 2016. The current owner acquired the car late 2016 and during his ownership the car has been looked after by classic Mercedes-Benz specialists, MB Spares in Canberra. Prior to the car arriving at Oldtimer Australia the three air suspension level valves were sent to Germany to be overhauled. At that time the odometer was 29,197 miles.
Today this car presents and drives beautifully. It is best described as a ‘lovely old car’ that has obviously been very well cared for throughout its life. The car most likely carries an older repaint, however, the grey paint still presents really well today. There are a few minor stone chips, defects and imperfections here and there, but nothing that really detracts from the overall presentation of the car. The most noticable are some marks on the boot lid and a small dent on the right hand rear guard. All of the exterior trim, chrome (there’s lots of it!), lenses, wheels and the glass are also in good condition throughout. Like the paintwork, some of the chrome has some minor defects, but again there is nothing significant. Inside, the car also presents really well. The cabin is just ‘a nice place to be’ and it just oozes class! The timber work is in good condition as is all of the upholstery. The interior has some light patina but there are no rips, tears or splits to any of the upholstery. The most noticeable defect is that the door pockets are starting to sag. The seats are firm and supportive and the driving position is very comfortable. All of the instruments and controls are in good condition and in working order. The steering wheel shows some light surface cracking, however, it is not something we would touch. We love the period rear blind, which may well be original to the car and of course the Becker radio (which works). The engine bay is also very original, clean and well presented. The boot looks to have been hardly used and there is a boot mat, spare wheel, tool kit, jack and a first aid kit.
Once comfortable behind the wheel it is time to fire up the engine. This car starts very easily and the engine is incredibly smooth, even when cold. After taking it all in, you select ‘drive’ with the column shift automatic gearbox. There is a very slight thud as the car engages gear and then you are away. Young people, old people, in fact all people just smile as you drive by! The car just goes about its business in a very businesslike yet very relaxed manner. The ride is incredibly smooth and the car just glides along the road without any fuss. The power steering is perfectly balanced – it’s not too light and it’s not too heavy. You turn the steering wheel and the car just follows in the direction you want it to go. Similarly, apply the brakes and the car pulls up in a very considered manner. It’s hard to believe that you are driving a car that is some 57 years old.
This lovely old Mercedes-Benz has not been restored. It is just a fabulous example of a ‘very cool car’ that has clearly been looked after and well maintained. It presents and drives exceptionally well, with just the right amount of patina. This Mercedes-Benz 300 SE can be used and enjoyed ‘as is’ and it would be welcome at any Mercedes-Benz event or classic car show.
Accompanying the car is an original owner’s manual, Australian dealer directory, some interesting literature and a detailed history file dating back to 2012.
Today the odometer reads 29,213 miles.
- An Australian delivered, factory right hand drive example.
- Finished in a perfect period colour scheme of grey with a blue interior.
- Significant money has been spent on the car in the last five or so years, including new airbags and the overhaul of the air valves.
- The car is ready for its next owner to use and enjoy.
The Mercedes-Benz 300 SE coupe and convertible prices have skyrocketed making the 300 SE Fintail sedan a relative bargain. Here’s a chance to own the ultimate version of Mercedes-Benz iconic ‘Finnie’!
- Mercedes-Benz 300SE Sedan 'Fintail'
- 29,213 miles