Live Auctions

Impound Lot Find? Euro-Spec 1979 Mercedes 450SEL

The background of the photos for a true European-spec / gray-market 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL sure look like an impound auction. As the seller mentions lien sale paperwork, my guess is this car was left at a mechanic’s shop or otherwise became possession of the state of California. Whatever the reason, it’s a nice candidate for restoration given there’s no obvious evidence of prior federalization attempts. Find it here on eBay with an opening bid of $1,300.

Any number of website have captured plenty of interesting cars ending up in West Coast salvage yards with stickers indicating they were towed due to lapsed registrations or lack of suitable off-street parking. California is pretty fierce like that, so I’m not surprised to see an old, emissions-spewing battleaxe like this 450SEL end up in its current state. The European headlights, cloth interior and slim chrome bumpers all indicate a car that never fell victim to the ugliness of DOT-mandated safety and emissions equipment.

These short-wheelbase V8 cars are among my favorites of the W116 lineup, and they look so much better when not saddled with the ugly US-spec bumpers. This one even still had its rare headlight wipers attached, which I’m guessing are quite hard to find today. The 4.5L V8 should belt out a healthy 225 b.h.p. once tuned correctly, and I’m guessing this one will need a fair amount of work before it’s humming with German precision once more.

It’s easy to confuse these 450SEL’s with the hotrod 6.9, but the first six numbers of the VIN are a good indication this is indeed the lesser-powered sibling. But when rescuing a classic Benz that’s obviously sat for a while, less complexity is often better and this one seems like a fair risk considering the opening bid and (hopefully) rust-free underside. These cars are sweethearts in Euro-spec form and when running right, so we hope to see this forlorn 450 saved.


  1. Frank

    Hmmm…what’s the better deal, this ebay car or this one down the road from me?

    • Redwagon

      The colors on the SE are gorgeous. Pity about the front end but then you wouldn’t be getting it for $950 either.

    • Doyler

      Your local one for sure

      • Mountainwoodie

        Go get it…..beautiful colors

    • misterlou Member

      I think it would be cheaper to fix the front end on the green one then recommission the brown one.

  2. Steve65

    SEL is the long wheelbase. That’s what the “L” means. Short wheelbase cars were the SE.

  3. Sparkster

    Back in the day I would go to the Long Beach,Ca. police impound car auctions. Some good deals some not. Toyota’s and Honda’s were the hot items. Ford Escorts not so much. There was a “key” guy there so after the auction he would make a key for your vehicle while you stood there. He was very good as well as fast. After I purchased a vehicle I would clean it out and return all the personal items to the last registered owner. Many folks came out in the morning to go to work and find their car was towed while sleeping. Too many parking tickets or parked in a No Parking zone. ALL VEHICLES had to be TOWED off the lot. Lien title paperwork.

  4. Alan

    I based in Beirut LEBANON. I have small collection of vintage American & other cars. 3 years ago I bought All original 1979 Mercedes 450SEL 6.9 from USA. All original 59K miles with all documentation & books. asking price was 40K I got it for 38K. v original well maintained car but I had my share of issues with hydropneumatic suspension system & rear differential went out. car was in storage not driven over 30 years and these issues are related to being in storage. a car being not driven and stored for decades is Not always good idea! here is link to my 6.9

    • LMK Member

      Beautiful car…

    • Miguel

      You paid 38K what? Dollars?

      • Alan

        Yes Miguel thats $38,000

  5. BOP Guy Member

    Money pit, run away !!

  6. PeterK

    I have a 1977 MB 450 SEL 6.9. I can state for a fact that owning one of these cars can be not for the feint of heart. The 4.5 V8 is a very healthy motor , however these cars come with the hydro pneumatic suspension which at current service rates works out to $2500 a corner ($10k replacement job). The cloth interior is no longer available anywhere, even from the Mercedes Center in LA. These cars are a dream to drive anywhere and the color (cinnamon brown) is coming back in style. Several other companies are using it in their color line ups. ( Porsche, Lexus, VW, GM)

    Being that this car has lived its life in sunny California it would, in my estimation, make a good candidate for a restoration. However the resale on these cars are currently low. I think that if you wait 5-10 years you won’t be able to buy a junker for less than $25K and decent restorations will be fetching $50-75K. Somebody needs to go for it!

  7. James P Bandy

    I have one one of those in my garage…a l972,beautiful…that one…hummm I give $75,00 for it….stupid car……so it lived in “Sunny” California…a candiate for restoration…why???

    • Concinnity

      Less chance of rust. But then you need to find out where in Europe it came from. Too far north and it was probably driven on salted roads there. The downside of finer weather climates is sun damage to rubber parts and paint.

  8. chad

    how much difference in wheel base L v SE, looks similar, frm afar, 2 this novice

    • Steve65

      100mm/3.9 in. It’s all in the rear seat leg room. If you look at 90° profile photos you can see it most clearly by comparing the rear door windows.

  9. Miguel

    Anybody interested in this car had better make sure it was once registered in California. If it is a grey market car, then you will never be able to register it.

  10. David Miraglia

    Always liked the Euro spec over the American spec benz. Simply the cleaner lines.

  11. Maestro1 Member

    I agree with PeterK. These cars have a strong upside and are worth restoring.
    Frankly, it’s a $1000.00 car the way it is.

  12. wes

    YUP!!! Just run down to the local DMV and pick up a new title! LOL and LOL

  13. Jose Delgadillo

    This generation of 450 was hugely popular, new and used. These euro spec cars are the most attractive. Being a grey market car the trick will be whether or not it can be legally registered. Being a ’78 it will have to conform to the biannual smog check requirement. A grand would be the most I would pay for it, unless I could hear it run.

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