One of Steve McQueen’s favorite cars ever, his 1972 Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3, will be offered for sale at Keno Brothers Fine Automobile Auctions inaugural Rolling Sculpture sale in NYC on Nov. 19, Airows can exclusively reveal.
Expected to bring in $480,000 – $650,000, the King of Cool ordered the car new in 1972 and drove it until his untimely death in 1980. McQueen’s son Chad tells the story of the black-on-black Mercedes – the fastest sedan in the world at the time – in McQueen’s Machines, the definitive guide to the actor’s car and motorcycle collection.
“Sometime in 1972 I remember a transporter pulling up to our house in Brentwood,” he recalls. They unloaded a big black Mercedes four-door. I said, ‘Dad, what are you going to do with that?’ He said, ‘This thing is so fucking fast you wouldn’t believe it.’” The rare 6.3-liter V8 variant of the 300 SEL, built for the autobahn, packed 300 hp allowing it do do 0-60 in 6.3 seconds and cruise up to 150 mph. McQueen told his son how he’d decided to buy one – it blew the paint off his much-better known Porsche 911, a cooler and more venerated, but not as capable, car.
“Last month when I was in Germany, I was in a 911S doing about 130 on the autobahn and something came up behind me flashing its lights,” he recounted. “It must have been doing 150 mph.” Looking over his shoulder he saw an older gentleman puffing on a pipe blow by him “like I was standing still.” Right then and there McQueen decided he had to have one. “It was one of his favorite cars,” Chad says. “He drove that thing everywhere.” Mercedes' AMG division successfully campaigned a race-prepped version of the sedan in Germany, proving its mettle.
The specially imported 300 SEL, titled to Solar Productions, is the most significant McQueen item to be auctioned in years. It's arguably much more important and personal than the 911T he drove briefly while filming Le Mans and gave to his mistress, being auctioned in Paris on Nov. 4, which is only expected to go for up to $350,000. And we can also reveal that his incredibly iconic Gulf / Heuer racing suit from Le Mans (below) will be sold by Bonhams in New York on Nov. 15, where it could bring in up to $300,000.