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Storage Unit Find: 1978 Mercedes 450SL

The varying degrees of condition a car can emerge in from long-term storage tends to defy logic. Sometimes, what looks like a perfectly sound arrangement still reveals plenty of hidden corrosion, while other vehicles left outdoors survive because of a canopy of trees up above keep them dry. This 1978 Mercedes-Benz 450SL is a Florida car that was seemingly kept in an appropriate environment, but the pictures reveal there’s still plenty of rust to deal with. The seller has listed it with a next-to-nothing opening bid and no reserve here on eBay with bids currently at $255.00.

This generation of Mercedes’ long-running soft top is far from the most desirable, built in huge quantities with increasingly downgraded performance as emissions and safety regulations strangled the drivetrain and ugly-fied the body. This example isn’t the best starting point given it’s already missing the grill and falls squarely into that time period of lower performance capabilities and the huge safety bumpers strapped on front and rear. Fortunately, the color scheme is one of the more attractive ones and spare parts are in abundance if this is simply the car you need to have.

The white-on-cardinal red is a great look, and aside from the headrests, there’s not too much to report for cosmetic damage to the cockpit. Some panels appears to have been removed but it by no means has been ripped apart. The dash, thankfully, hasn’t cracked, and the wood trim in the center stack doesn’t appear to have perished. The steering wheel looks presentable as well, but it looks like the knee panel from underneath the column is sitting in the backseat. The seller doesn’t know much about the car and isn’t planning on attempting to start it up with a fresh battery before the sale.

The top photo shows that a factory hard top will accompany the SL, which is a nice bonus for the next owner. However, this photo appears to show some of the rust the seller speaks of around the tonneau cover area. I can’t quite tell how deep it goes or if it’s just surface-level, but it could be that the hardtop was left on for long periods while the car was outside. It’s also hard define whether it’s in the body or just the cover, as the latter would be pretty straightforward to replace. So despite its indoor storage, there’s more rust here than you might expect – does its low price make it worth the gamble?


  1. Tirefriar

    The r107 also has a nasty propensity to rust at the front section of the front frame rails. I had 2 380SLs and both had rust there,btw both were Cali cars…

    Like 2
    • Solosolo UK ken tillyUK Member

      The top of the fenders above the headlights is a definite area for rust to be lurking as well as they all rust there. When it comes to purchasing the grille the buyer will discover that it will most likely cost him more than he will pay for the car! Luckily he won’t have to buy a hard top as the cost of a new one is horrendous. I would think that the buyer could make a lot of money by breaking it up for spares.

      Like 1
  2. 8banger dave Member

    Don’t be fooled: My wife has an ‘83 380sl that is surprisingly quick.

    Like 1
  3. Rob

    I used to live in FL near the beach. Anything that’s even remotely close will suffer rust and corrosion as the breeze deposits salt everywhere.

    This car may have come out of a storage unit but that doesn’t mean it spent most of its time there. The cracked headrest says it spent a lot of time outside with the top down.

    Like 0
  4. 1Ronald

    Guessing owners or inheritors got tired of paying storage and this is what happens when it falls into the hands of wanting to free the space for another customer. Motor bonnet removed and on the floor suggests failed attempts at starting and no new battery will do what can’t be done. I had a 75 450SL and they need to be driven. Not top off all year with only warm weather cruises will get you a car that’ll stop running as the dealer discovered when they brought my Ferrari up as replacement and thought they were going to drive the SL back on the Interstate. Yes, it still looked nice. Yes, it had only 20,000 miles. Yes, it quit on the Interstate. Not happy campers. No they weren’t. And this car looks like MB Tex rather than from a cow although seller doesn’t say. And ravages of ocean air that can somehow permeate glass panes and destroy what’s inside. One of the most desired color combos you could get back then. Recall a doctor who had a peach color with a white top. Different. This will be a great find for a mechanic who knows MB, who knows Euro, and can take his time bringing it back to life. And you can look at that car and know chrome rules. The only way to go. Back when they made cars that captured hearts of motorists.

    Like 0

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