Miami Vice Approved: 1973 Mercedes 450SL

It’s no secret I’m a big fan of vehicles from the 1980s, but I love them even more when they appear as modified in-period. This 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450SL is a European-spec model, and it arrived in the US in the midst of the gray-market import craze. Wearing a wicked period body kit and color-matched BBS wheels, it hasn’t run since 1990. Find it here on eBay with one bid and the reserve unmet.

So often, the body kits that were once common-place (seriously, I can remember flipping through my brother’s copies of European Car magazine and seeing full-page ads of bodykits for German cars) are trashed by this point, yanked off by smacking curbs or being  towed. This car, since it was parked in 1990, has been largely preserved, so this Lorinser bodykit, consisting of a front air dam, side skirts and rear bumper, remains in excellent condition. The integrated BBS trunk spoiler is nice to see, too.

Although the Euro cars with the manual transmission are the hot ticket, those are incredibly hard to find stateside. The seller bought this car from his pal who purchased it in the mid-80s, then parked it in 1990 after a relocation. The interior is factory-spec and clean, and outside you’ll notice it retains the smaller Euro bumpers and more powerful glass headlights. The color-matched BBS wheels are the proverbial cherry on top, and a factory hard-top that’s painted to match is always nice to have.

Engine-wise, the seller hasn’t attempted to stoke the V8 coals that his buddy let fade away. He claims it’s still free, and overall, things feel good – pedal-feel is healthy and most of the electronics seem to work. The fuel system has already been cleaned up with the tank receiving a professional clean-out and a new pump. Overall, the risk seems low that this 450SL won’t fire again, and if you’re prepared to live your life as Don Johnson once did, then this is the car to buy.


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  1. Hide Behind

    Not running, good.
    Pull motor and tranny, and plunk in a slightly warmed up Chevy 350 and built R4 tranny.
    Interior and exterior looking great, luxury motoring with style.
    Sell motor, you can buy a crate Chevy almost complete for less than cost of rebuild stock motor.
    There are lots for Chevy installation, done 2, and no hard fab work.
    Ruin resale value, most likely, but what’s the cost of smoking some dudes mid cost Stang. Camaro, or Mopar.
    FROM cruising to country club, this ride with a chev fits the scene and surprisingly still grooves the mild twistys.

  2. RoKo

    Hopefully it’ll be restored properly. What a let down it would be to open the hood and find it’s been bastardized.

  3. Rx7turboII

    Why is everybody’s answer to a non running car to throw an LS1 in it or some kind of American-made v8 engine? Yes, that would make it go a lot faster but sometimes it’s not all about going faster. Believe It or Not ,There are some of us who really like originality and a nice smooth running original engine that came in the car. It’s not always about getting there faster, sometimes it’s just about enjoying the ride! #nomorev8swaps

  4. Moxman

    Two polar opposite opinions about this car. This is one of many reasons why I like this website. Keep on keepin’ on.

    There is actually a company that will install a late model MBZ drivetrain in older cars. That’s an option for this car, I guess?

  5. Fred w.

    The 250HP OHV aluminum V8 isn’t exactly a slouch and due to low weight will handle better than a SBC.

  6. Nsuracer

    They may have cleaned up the fuel tank and such, but what about the F.I. under the hood. CIS injection is notorious about going south when allowed to sit for 2 or 3 years much less 27.

  7. Jay M

    I have transplanted many sbc/bbc/ls/4.3/3.8, etc.
    But never in a car with a decent engine already. And I never will in a car that will appreciate in value if kept original.

    • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

      Good to know that there are still people like you around Jay M. I have had lots of the 107 model MB SL’s and SLC’s and, bar the 280, they all go like the proverbial sh off a shovel. Why anybody would want to drop in a sbc is beyond comprehension. Judging by some of the people that comment on this site, we are a dying breed.

    • JimmyinTEXAS

      It must be a heavy burden you bear, being able to see the future like that.

      • Jay M

        Hi Jimmy,
        I don’t think it’s a secret that M-B’s are appreciating. The more original, the more valuable.

      • JimmyinTEXAS

        Thanks for the clarification. You stated “a car”, not any MB car.

  8. Jack Quantrill

    Gold, is the worst color ever, on any car!

  9. Rick Ambrose

    These were wonderful long-legged touring cars. I drove one back in ’73 from Florida to Denver with a hippie friend non-stop. Smooth as silk, heavy and solid. We were doing a drive-away delivery Miami – Denver, and i got the 1st speeding ticket after only 3 miles, 90 in a 45. He let us off and didn’t even notice the pungent smell of mother nature when i rolled down the window……ahhh, the good ol’ days!

  10. chad

    mmm…$7K? put in the supplied gas tank?…
    “What else” rust?

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