The Mercedes-Benz 450SLC is unusual in that a version was made as a homologation special to compete in the marathon rallies which were popular from the late 1960s to the late 1970s. Unlike modern rallies, where the leading cars are redesigned and rebuilt to Formula One standards, these marathons imposed strict regulations on the entrants and, consequently, the cars were recognizably close to showroom specification, give or take additional safety measures. In 1978, a 450SLC, driven by Andrew Cowan and Colin Makin, won a grueling 18,000-mile marathon which covered almost all South American countries.

The 450 SLC was a full four-seat coupe, a 450SL with a longer wheelbase but with only a slight increase in weight. It therefore offered the buyer with a family all the dynamics and performance of a regular 450SL sports car while having presence in any environment, from a business meeting to a night on the town.

This car has been owned by a Mercedes-Benz dealer since 1985, and he had it thoroughly restored over five years. It has a new interior throughout, new paintwork, gearbox and tires and has been dry-stored in winter.

This example is finished in cypress green with moss green velour upholstery and has current tags.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC
Years Produced:1972-1980
Number Produced:31,739
Original List Price:$23,976 (Oct. 1975)
SCM Valuation:$9,500-$11,000
Tune Up Cost:$225
Distributor Caps:$24
Chassis Number Location:Stamped on plate on radiator support
Engine Number Location:Left rear upper corner of engine block
Club Info:Mercedes-Benz Club of America, 1235 Pierce St., Lakewood, CO, 80214
Alternatives:BMW 3.0 CS coupe, Mercedes- Benz 280 SE coupe, Jaguar XJ-12 coupe

This cypress green 450 SLC coupe, in spite of its impressive condition, sold for $3,767 at the Brooks Europe auction inStuttgart on April 24, 1999. This embarrassingly low sale price is indicative of the lagging market value for the SLC.

Also, while some 450 SLCs were rallied, there is no indication that THIS particular car ever saw competition aside from jockeying for a parking spot outside the opera house. So it should just be considered a used car.

Normally, you can pick any M-B coupe with your eyes closed and get a car of classic proportions. The exception to this rule is the SLC, produced at the start of the 450 SL run in 1972. This is the Mercedes coupe with styling that just didn’t work. Nothing is wrong with the mechanicals, as the standard issue M-B 4.5-liter V8 is an engine so tough that, for a decade or so after its introduction, even busy M-B shops hadn’t seen a bottom end apart. But the SLC was the first time the M-B sports car was used to make a 4-seater coupe, and the classic lines of the SL just could not handle the 14.2 inches inserted behind the doors.

To try to mask the clumsy proportions, a busy louver grid was placed just forward of the rear pillar. It was good in theory, but on the car it just made matters worse.

These are solid, heavy feeling cars to drive. The early non-smog choked motors are true marvels, with the unusual blend of gobs of bottom end torque, yet a fully developed high RPM power band. The secret is big displacement and prodigious gas flow.

I hesitate to call the SL convertible a sports car, as it has none of the dynamics you’d likely associate with that concept. The SLC was even bigger and heavier than the SL, so you get the idea.

Although not a top-drawer collectible, this SLC was well-bought at the price noted. And if the styling catches your fancy, or you are on a very tight budget, it’s a wonderful way to be introduced to one of the world’s finest cars at more than 50 percent off the price of the more desirable SL open two-seaters of the same vintage.-Jim Schrager

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