HomeCar CultureSEMA Seen: 1969 Wide-body Mercedes 280SEL

SEMA Seen: 1969 Wide-body Mercedes 280SEL


At the SEMA Show, it’s rare to have a car stop you in your tracks after three days of automotive overload.  Slowly becoming numb to all of the custom builds and elaborate displays, I was delightfully surprised to find this 1969 wide-body Mercede-Benz 280SEL in the North Hall of the Las Vegas Convention Center.  The craftsmanship was astonishing and the overall concept impressive.

1969 Wide-body Mercedes 280SEL
Wide-body kit made of hand-fabbed steel

The car was built for Josh Stahl, owner of Reviva, a company specializing in remanufacturing diesel engines and components for fleet vehicles as well as similar engines featured in his wide-body Mercedes.

The wide-body Mercedes is powered by a Reviva 6.7-liter LS engine with 607 horsepower that comes with a two-year, 24,000-mile warranty.  An LS performance engine with a warranty even if for a short time wasn’t something I thought I’d ever see.

1969 Wide-body Mercedes 280SEL
6.7-liter Reviva LS engine

Stahl commissioned Vescio’s Customs for the build that he eventually wants to use for AutoCross competiton.

The fairly large engine is fitted very cleanly into an engine bay finished in a beautiful muted silver.  Quite interesting to see a performance engine displayed in such a stylish way.  However, the giant grille attached to the hood almost hid the beautiful engine work.

1969 Wide-body Mercedes 280SELI would have guessed it was a custom addition but turns out it’s a factory grille.  It’s unfortunate that the grille on this wide-body Mercedes hid the beautiful engine bay a bit, but it was the first thing that grabbed my attention.

Along with the custom wide-body kit that I was pleasantly surprised to find out were hand-fabbed steel by Vescio’s Customs.  Something you don’t see often.  Majority, if not all, wide-body kits that were overwhelmingly displayed were made of fiberglass-reinforced plastic.

1969 Wide-body Mercedes 280SELCherry-wood Momo wheel topped the tilt steering column and the original dash was customized with AutoMeter gauges and Vintage Air.

The interior had a performance feel with the five-point harnesses but still retained the luxury that Mercedes is known for in the diamond-stitch pattern in the tan leather bucket seats.

Seemed to be a trend for me this year at SEMA.  I was drawn more to the builds with a story and SEMA was the perfect place to find a culmination of those unique stories.

Read more SEMA Seen: Randy Grubb’s 1959 VW bus/camper

Rebecca Nguyen
Rebecca Nguyen
Rebecca is an experienced automotive motorsports photographer and enthusiast of all things with wheels. Former Marketing and Project Coordinator for several aftermarket brands, Rebecca has a unique perspective developed from being on several different sides of the automotive world. From developing innovative automotive products to doing her own DIY modifications on her 2003 Subaru WRX and 2014 Ducati Monster, Rebecca’s passion for the hobby brings fresh ideas to The Journal. In addition, she has spent many years publishing event coverage for events like SEMA, Formula Drift, and Global RallyCross while coordinating the annual Future Collector Car Show in Scottsdale Arizona.


  1. Why would you think a performance LS series engine couldn’t have a warranty? Any shop like Josh’s doing quality work will stand behind it, and I am unaware of any inherent fragility in the post-’02 LS series that would preclude a guarantee.
    I’ve got 120,xxx on the factory bottom end of the LS1 in my ’04 GTO; the heads have been cut for about an extra point of compression, I have a Jet Engineering computer module and their 1to4 shift eliminator, a CompCams valvetrain, DUI coils, and a mildly reworked factory induction all feeding the as-delivered factory exhaust system. Save for the cold engine piston slap I get during Fargo winters (car’s my daily driver, donchakno), which goes away with about 5-7 warm-up minutes, after a tick over 160 quarter mile runs, and about the same eighths, I don’t worry about getting to work on any Monday.
    I’m looking to upgrade to a 408ci bottom end- keeping the appearance of the exterior as (ahem) stock as possible, and Mr. Stahl’s shop is on my list.
    For as brilliant a bit of kit the LS is, it seems to provoke a lot of negative Nellies.


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