Police Auction Project: 1972 Mercedes 450SL

I’ve always wanted to attend a police auction, or even peruse the yard of our local car/truck/boat donation center. There’s likely a lot of vehicles I’d pass over, but there are probably a few that would be worth taking home as projects. Years ago, this 1972 Mercedes-Benz 450SL here on craigslist went home with the current owner after winning it at the police impound, but not much has happened to the car since then. 

Special thanks to Barn Finds reader Olaf E. who spotted this classy SL and parts car in Texas for just $2,500. The project-grade SL has been washed off in the picture above, and it appears some bodywork has already transpired. However, I’m guessing that nose once held the desirable European glass headlights and smaller chrome bumper, as it’s not mentioned anywhere in the listing that they are included, and they’re not present on the parts car, either.

The 4.5L V8 is a worthy companion to this dilapidated R107 car and I’m assuming it doesn’t run. I’d tell you that this isn’t a huge issue considering the parts car seen below still has its drivetrain attached, but the lack of a hood and outdoor storage probably means that car is just good for body panels. These are certainly not cheap projects to own and even less so when returning from the brink as this one is, so bargaining down to $2K (or less) is almost mandatory at this point.

The other problem? They made plenty of them. You can find a far better starting point for not much more money, so it be best to look at both vehicles as potential parts cars rather than believing you can restore one of the two and not lose your shirt. Of course, the potential pool of buyers who need two SLs is likely fairly small, but who knows? Maybe one of our readers wants to do exactly that. Let us know in the comments below.


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  1. Glen

    The pictures do show a chrome bumper, I assume it is included. Could someone explain what those round things are with the second car?

  2. 71 MKIV

    vacuum canister. I would assume more or less compartments depending on the need for capacity.

    71 MKIV

  3. sparkster

    A teacher in high school bought the first year of these which at that time were called “SL 350”. Great lines on theses cars before the huge bumpers came into play. Still want one. But there is a long list of cars I want at this age of my life.

  4. 3457fl

    Having had a couple of these both of them together would be a $500 deal on the outside. 72& 73 Cam with small bumpers before the crash absorbing ones came into effect. The only $$ items on these would be the bumpers, or if one by the long shot would of been a 4 speed, all are automatics.

    • Dave Wright

      All US cars were automatics……………..manuals were available in Europe. Once and a while one shows up on our side of the Atlantic. Some of the early 107 chassis were called 280Sl and had 6 cylinder DOHC engines.

  5. Jeffro

    I also have always wanted to try a police auction. But, those stupid warrants always seem to get in the way. The vacuum canisters always remind me to pick up a dozen eggs

  6. Kent Pearson

    Test drove one of these once and found no acceleration and handling like 30 foot Lincoln. No thanks.

  7. junkman Member

    Genuine “K” or J-U-N-K no value here

  8. Cargirl

    JUST $2,500.00? More weeds and rust please.

  9. Bruce Best

    These are NOT sports cars. The 30 foot Lincoln comment is very accurate. These were always designed to be high speed cruising machines that would handle like a sport car if forced to do so. They we designed to feel like their larger SE, SEC, and SEL cousins. With a surprising number of interchangeable parts.

    If you are willing to do the work yourself and are wiling to take your time to find parts these are both restorable but and it is a very big but. There are so many more out there that are in better condition for a few thousand dollars more move on and go with one of those.

    A final note: The entire Sl line from 350 to 560 is considered by Mercedes to be part of their LEGACY LINE of cars and they are still making parts for them. There is enough of a demand to make that worth while. Never the fastest cars, but always built to the highest standards with the best technology of the day and the best materials a good one taken care of will out last any of us. That has to be a consideration.

  10. D. King

    I’m thinking German grenades, Glen.

  11. Andrew

    Reminds me of “American Gigolo” film with Richard Gere.

  12. Peter Pentz

    In their day at introduction this car was sharply criticized and tagged as nothing but a “boulevard cruiser ” .
    The general handling was squishy and wollowy, and the acceleration lackluster.
    They also did no favors to the car introducing it to the US as Auto only.
    Even in manual guise and European suspension it was slammed by the EU press.
    It’s a fabulous looking car, and actually a great ride – if you’re looking for a car that looks like a sports car, but is really an everyday 2 door commuter.

    I always have a good laugh at people I see driving them – it’s a clear statement of somebody who doesn’t get it, i.e. a real “poser”. A similar period Mustang or Camaro would scare them to death …..

    In period there were a number of German tuners who sorted this car out, and produced real road burners, turning it into a real sports car. All the basic foundations were there, a lightweight bullet proof V8, great engineering, and really great looks.

    • Terry C

      Well then, It would seem that I’m here to make you laugh. I have both an 88 560 as well as a 77 450 and all I can tell ya is that I for one get it. Really, I do. These are excellent highway cars and one of my favorite body styles of any. In case you are wondering what may or may not scare me to death…Well…There are moments where my 78 El Camino (factory 350 on a four speed with a mild ispy cam) certainly catches my attention, being so light in the ass end and all trying to keep approximately 350 HP stuck to the ground, but hey, what do I know right? The 69 GTO and the 69 Cutlass convertibles parked at my dad’s place don’t really scare me either, much. I have to say you owe it to yourself to take one of the SL series for a good week long road trip and then maybe can comment on them with some semblance of understanding. Yeah, I know, the 69 GTO and Cutlass were never considered muscle cars and 350’s with a stick don’t count either because they aren’t Mustangs but consider the source as I’m just one of those people you laugh at when I have the Mercedes out. To each their own I say, take pride in what you have and enjoy it at every turn.

  13. Clinton

    I’m pretty sure the first car photographed will end up looking like the second car photographed in the near future.

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