1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL: Restored And Parked

mercedes450

We’ve seen this story before: car is restored and refreshed, then sits in the garage for years, undoing all of those investments. Seems crazy, right? Well, this 1974 Mercedes-Benz 450SL here on eBay suffers from this fate and I’m beginning to think it’s not so unusual after all. I’ve noticed it happening personally as I continue to tinker with my latest project while my first project car – a 1987 BMW 325is, which is largely “complete” – has sat in storage for the better part of the summer. Why, you might ask? Well, I’m really enjoying the new car for its added power and space, and the other project doesn’t have too many needs at the moment, having the odd effect of almost reducing my interest in it. So it doesn’t surprise me that this SL-series Mercedes, which looks rust-free and has an impressively-intact interior for only $1,400, might have suffered a similar fate at the hands of an owner who got it to where he wanted it and then found something else to occupy his time. Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon?

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Comments

  1. randy

    The 4.5 L engine the in 450 models is certainly bomb proof. This body style was made from 1970 until 1985, it held it’s value well, until the next generation roadster came along. The 1970 models were only available in the European market.

    Cast iron block with aluminum heads I believe.

    • Horse Radish

      A couple of corrections, since Mercedes are ‘my thing’.
      This SL model (W107) was introduced as the european version 350SL in late 1971 (first cars built are always European Market cars). First model year offered in the US was 1972 .
      US cars were 450SLs of which the first batch actually came with a 350SL badge which were swapped out at dealers nationwide upon arrival.
      This series ran until 1991 as 560/420 or 300SLs.
      It was the longest run of any Mercedes model in history.

  2. Tirefriar

    The R107 body was made from 71 to 89. U.S. started to receive the R107 in 1972. This car was the last of the pre-cat cars but the first of the diving board front and rear bumpers.

    The 450 SL was produced up until 1980 when it became the 380SL. I owned 2 ’85 380SLs (guess I didn’t learn my lesson the first time but these were and still are the least expensive R107 cars).

    Being a ’74 m.y. , this car would be very suitable for California as it is smog exempt this escaping the senseless Kommiefornia emissions requirements.

    The R107 has a propensity to rust at some of the most unconventional places, such as front frame rails. I expeienced that in my second ’85 – quite surprising as it was a California car all its life.

    As for the value, the early R107 cars, especially pre’74, are firming up in price due in part to the W113 bubble that is making some of the Porsche owners blush. A clean early 450SL will run up around $10k, better than that will push $15k and up depending on the condition. This could be worth it if the price remains close to $2k as much as possible provided there’s really no critical rust. This one would be a hoot to hot rod with a later model MB 5L engine and a manual.

  3. Charles

    I have never seen the point of freshing up or restoring a car, than letting it rot while moving on to the next one. On my two hobby cars, I try to keep both of them road worthy all of the time. Usually one will be shown in three or four car shows each year while the other one is undergoing some maintenance and repairs. The following year the car that was the show princess is worked on over the summer, while the one that sat out the shows the previous year gets to have its time in the spotlight. The cars get swapped each summer, which allows me time to concentrate on the one that is not being shown that year. Of course, sometimes an unplanned issue will surface, and the cars may be swapped mid season. Last year my all original 82 TA with 24K miles on it had the OE tires replaced, and some AC work. The 30 actual miles 86 TA played trailer/show queen. This year the 86 is getting a new fuel tank due to the original one developing a crack in the filler neck. The 82 has traveled in our enclosed trailer all over the southeast to various events. Both cars are driven some, and are driven in cruises and poker runs. The reason that I choose to trailer them is that after four back surgeries, my old body is a lot more comfortable in the captain’s chair of our F350 Crewcab then in an 80’s thirdgen Trans AM. To each their own, however for me allowing a car to rot after fixing it up is not an option.

  4. randy

    Oops, I forgot about the 560SL,(86-89) that came out in 1986. The 380SL was not a bad car, except for the 1981, that had a single roller cam, (timing chain) that loved to let loose. The European 380’s got the double roller. The US model 380 got an upgraded double roller in 1982. There was also a 350SL for the euro market that had a sweet sounding 3.5 L engine.

  5. ClassicCarFan

    Hi Randy.
    The single-row chain was actually on all the 380 motors 1981-1983
    We have a 1983 380SL which fortunately has had the double-chain upgrade done already. The 380SLs are also pretty sluggish with only 155bhp and quite a heavy body. Still, my wife doesn’t care too much about the performance and it is a nice summer cruiser.

    As for this 450SL…. the 450 would certainly be more desirable than the 380SL version.

    I’m not sure that this is a good model to take on if it has been standing for a long time and has a lot of needs?

    On the plus side, the fundamental build quality and engineering quality is pretty darn good.

    On the down side, it’s a fairly complex car and fixing issues can get very expensive especially where you are obliged to fit genuine Mercedes parts?

    I believe that is the reason why less-than-pristine examples of these cars are relatively cheap to buy. The cost of bringing a needy one up to good usable condition can get scary.

    • randy

      Thanks for refreshing my memory, it’s been a while since I was in the MB world. The 380SL for 84 and 85 did come with the double row, I remember now the year split. The Euro model 107 500SL was quite the screamer, anf it did come to the US market at the end of the 107 model. I believe the 560SL 107 type was even faster.

  6. charlie Member

    An acquaintance has an MG TD impeccably restored, far better than it came out of the factory, and it has sat in his garage, over on the side, I think it would have to be jacked up and put on dollies to get it out sideways and then drive it out of the garage, he keeps a battery tender on it and starts it and lets it run about once a month, but it is “too precious” to put on the road or park in a supermarket parking lot, too underpowered and flimsy to drive on the Interstates, and so it sits. His heirs will probably sell it to someone else who puts it away. Then, the market for it will decline, given the age of the car and that 20 years from now, like model A Fords today, no one is left who hankered after one when they were young.

  7. David Frank david Member

    A sad Mercedes tale. My neighbor purchased this 380SL in Texas several years ago and drove it back to California. The battery was dead every morning. (Battery, belt, alternator?) His mechanic told him it was too expensive to repair!?!? Are these 380s really that worthless? There must be more wrong with this Mercedes.

  8. randy

    Not worthless, just not worth fixing up. They are very expensive to maintain, and repair. They were / are also quite heavy, not much of a roadster. A rich man’s toy until the next new Benz came out, then it’s off to the rubbish bin. After this body style MB started putting V-12s in the SL class roadster, the 129 Chassis cars. Now those were roadsters. I doubt they have held their 100K price tag value well either.

  9. Jack Quantrill

    I had a ’77 280SLC, four seater, non roadster. It was a “gray-market import and cost someone a lot to certify for the U.S. A straight six, with automatic. Ran great and looked good. Had to donate it to charity as no one wanted a six, rigid roof model.

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