PCH, 6.9 Liters Of Misery Edition: 1977 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL or 1966 Pontiac Catalina?SWelcome to Project Car Hell, where you choose your eternity by selecting the project that's the coolest... and the most hellish! The spirit of the Madman couldn't push the '53 Muntz Jet over the 16 Peugeots in yesterday's Choose Your Eternity challenge, although the Jet did give the Instant French Junkyard a good run for their money. Today we're going with a new concept: two very different cars with very similar engine displacements. Yes, it's Detroit versus Stuttgart, with the super-sophisticated 6.9 V8 taking on the blunt-instrument 421 V8.

It's always fun to have a Jalopnik Fantasy Garage inhabitant in Project Car Hell, and JFG-meister Loverman himself gets the blame credit for sending in this tip. Would you believe just 1,200 bucks for this '77 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL 6.9 (go here if the ad disappears)? No, we haven't been huffing starter fluid again- that's the for-real price. Yes, a car that sold for the equivalent of $143,000 (in 2008 dollars) when new is now available for less than one percent of that amount! Does it run? What kind of question is that? Of course it… well, fine, you got us there; the seller states "Not running at this time but car complete," which we're interpreting as "Something really terrible went wrong 15 years ago but nothing has fallen off the car since then." Does the ungodly complicated hydraulic suspension work? How about that 250-horse SOHC V8- are there rods hanging out the side of the block? We can't tell you, but it can't be that hard to get this car back on the road, right?
What's this liters business? Forget about overhead cams, aluminum blocks, and fuel injection- the American Dream is powered by pushrods, cast iron, and carburetors. Multiple carburetors, like the ones that the Pontiac 421 Super Duty had back in the mid-60s. 6.9 liters is just about exactly the same volume as 421 cubic inches, but the 250 horsepower of the Mercedes-Benz 6.9 was dwarfed by the 405 horses you got with the craziest Super Duty 421; sure, a lot of that difference is gross-versus-net measurements, and the 421 belched out approximately 400,000 times more hydrocarbons, carbon monoxide, and probably Iodine-131 than did the 6.9, but you'll need to make the engine run before you can worry about that stuff. Given how easy it is to find Pontiac V8 parts these days, we figure getting the 421 in this '66 Pontiac Catalina 2+2 going again should be way easier than fixing the cheese-grater like rust minor corrosion on its body. You'll need to ditch the automatic and put in a 4-speed- and you whiners who want to complain about "destroying the originality" of the car can go away now- and then you'll need to get the Tri-Power carburetors, and about a million bucks worth of some interior components, and… well, you get the idea- the big Pontiacs don't have quite the aftermarket support you get with Firebirds and GTOs, but you'll be able to laugh at those dime-a-dozen musclecars as you rumble down the boulevard in your Catalina