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Worth The Trouble? 1973 Mercedes 450SL Project

1973 Mercedes Benz 450sl

The big (ok, relatively big) Mercedes personal luxury car has a reputation of being a solid tourer. At least at some point this one had to have been loved to receive the European headlight conversion. According to the seller it’s been sitting for at least a few years in their driveway in Ferrum, Virginia and it won’t start. The car is listed for sale here on eBay with an opening bid of $1,500 with no reserve. I see decent examples of these cars for sale frequently, obviously for more money, so I wonder if it’s worth resurrecting this one. On the other hand, if there’s not that much to be done to get it running, you could be in a Teutonic two-seater for not a lot of cash outlay. The seller states it needs a coil; that seems like a minor fix to take a car off the road. If you’re interested and close enough, it might be worth a trip with a battery, fresh gas and a coil (assuming the seller is willing) to see if you could get it to fire up. Do you think it’s worth it?


  1. Tirefriar

    I would cautiously say Yes. Yes because it’s the earlier version of the R107 (may be even a a Euro version – obviously the lights, but what about the climate control panel?) and with the W113 developing the P-bubble disease, these will be the next Benz convertible to go up in price. I’m cautious because these things rust, just like everything else from that era. But I’ve never seen a frame rail rot like I did on my 1985 380SL. BTW, having only experience the R 107 in its 380SL iteration twice, no less made me feel a certain aversion to to R107 cars, and maybe underservingly so. The 380SL was the crappiest R107 built, especially when chocked out with all the smog junk.

    Being a 73, this one has the straight forward mechanicals as well as the privilege of being smog exempt in California.

  2. Jeff V.

    Having owned a ’78 450SL (gray mkt) & ’87 560SL I am leaning to say “its worth it!”. These cars (R107) r the most solid feeling rides I’ve ever owned! Make sure u check the fuel accumulator!

  3. Don


    • JimmyinTEXAS

      Sold or starting bid $1500, and zero bids…

  4. Jay Maynard

    In general, if a 107 has sat for any appreciable length of time, you can expect to have to go through the fuel system. Don’t even try starting it until you’ve flushed the fuel system from the injectors back if you want to have any chance of avoiding trouble. It’s pretty common to see ads with “runs if you pour fuel in the carburetor”; this is a sure sign of fuel system trouble.

    With that said, if it’s rust-free, complete, and otherwise in good shape, and you’re willing to tinker with the fuel system, $1500 isn’t a bad price at all.

    Oh, and budget another kilobuck not very long after purchase for a new timing chain, sprockets, and guides. The guides get brittle on these and break, and the chain jumps time, and your engine is in for an expensive repair.

  5. Bobby D

    “Mechanic” friend must have replaced spark plugs before determining the bad coil. Boxes and socket in floor

  6. Grr

    When did MB start galvanizing its body shells?

  7. ClassiCarfan

    Ha ha. these comments made me smile. We have a 1983 380SL. I’ve just (literally just this week) replaced the fuel accumulator to address poor hot re-start. ours also has bad rust in the forward end of front frame rail (though oddly, only on one side???) and non-operative A/C of course.

    As others above have said, the 380SL is the worst of the bunch sandwiched inbetween the 450SL and 560SL. I’d say our 380SL is pretty sluggish to drive, but to be fair – my wife loves driving it and we did sort of ‘inherit’ it so I can’t complain.

    The 380SL of certain years in the 1980s has the most vulnerable single row timing chain. The 1983 model year like ours is one of the bad ones, though fortunately for us ours had already been converted/upgraded to the twin-row chain at some point before we had it.

    I’d say the 107 Merc is a mix of good and bad. In some ways they are extremely well engineered and very solidly built, but in other ways the design is flawed and they have some weak points. You do seem to be able to pick one up very cheaply – particularly the less desirable 380SL – if you are willing to take a punt on one with a few needs but I feel that they can turn into a bit of a money pit unless you can do most of the work yourself? Genuine Mercedes-Benz parts can be pretty expensive.

    Yes, I’ve also noticed the prices of the previous generation W113 cars are shooting up. I’m not so sure that the 107 cars will follow? Maybe. There seem to be so many of them around so the rarity factor isn’t helping them.

  8. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Hefty briefcase full of money needed to make one right.

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