1976 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC - $9,900
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The coupe retains the roadster’s overall look, and the added inches are all behind the door, so it gets that cool quarter window treatment and forward-canted C-pillar that make it look sporting.

The Mercedes-Benz 450SLC is a car you’ve probably never seen before. Obviously it’s a sibling to the ever-popular range of R107 SL roadsters, and the platform under the SLC is related, called the C107. It offers all the same good stuff: robust build quality, silky smooth and endlessly torquey V8 engine, handsome good looks that still seem contemporary today, plus one thing the SL never offered: a real back seat. The coupe’s longer wheelbase makes for a reasonably usable rear seat area and a more spacious passenger compartment that changes its personality, but only a little. This is a grand tourer in the best sense of the word, able to consume large swaths of pavement at high speeds in comfort. That is what these cars do best. And they’re a real bargain compared to their open-top siblings, too!

I will admit to having a bit of personal bias, as a 450SLC was in our family when I was younger and I spent a lot of hours behind the wheel as a young driver. The car was always competent, reliable, and fun to drive, and the upscale coupe was certainly appealing to a teenager whose peers were driving Chevettes and VW Rabbits. This handsome Topaz Brown 450SLC is simply a good original car that has lived an easy life. It seems to hail from a warm climate that never had to deal with harsh weather, as there’s no notable rust or damage, and like all Mercedes-Benz vehicles of the era, it fits together extremely well. The doors close with a reassuring THUNK and even the metal door handles feel substantial in your hand. The coupe retains the roadster’s overall look, and the added inches are all behind the door, so it gets that cool quarter window treatment and forward-canted C-pillar that make it look sporting. The long hood/short deck styling works especially well, and if you squint a bit, you might even see a bit of muscle car styling in there. With flared fenders, a bulging hood, and a great V8 exhaust note, it could probably be mistaken for a German Mustang. This particular car also features Euro headlights, which are a BIG improvement over the usual four-eyed stare, and the federalized bumpers look right after 5 decades of looking at them.

From behind the wheel, it’s indistinguishable from the SL roadster. Same supportive bucket seats, same big steering wheel, same easy-to-read gauges. We believe the front seats have been reupholstered, but it was done in such a way so to make it simply look like normal age and fading may be in play, so it fits in with the rest of the interior. The MB-Tex in back is a little dry and there’s one split seam, but it isn’t very noticeable and we’d leave it alone. The carpets are surely original, as are the door panels and headliner, all of which are in good condition. The gauges are all operational, the sunroof slides open smoothly, and there’s a newer JVC AM/FM/cassette head unit in the dash, along with what appears to be a microphone for dictation—a relic of the car’s life in the late ’70s. There’s also a CB radio, although we haven’t tried to see if it works. The car was apparently sold and serviced by a Cadillac dealer, which explains the engraved Cadillac nameplate on the dash but we don’t believe the owner was anyone of note. The A/C appears operational but does not blow cold and since it’s an R12 system we have chosen to leave it alone rather than convert it. Even the power antenna goes up and down as it should. The trunk is neatly upholstered with gray carpet, and the original spare tire and jack assembly are included.

Mechanically, the SL and SLC are identical, and in 1976 both were powered by Mercedes’ rugged and wonderfully flexible 4.5 liter SOHC V8. On paper, the 180 horsepower and 220 pounds of torque seem modest, but in the real world this car always feels like it is on the end of a giant recoiling rubber band. That bubbly, smooth, torquey V8 feels like it could pull forever and it never seems to be working very hard. There’s a precise mechanical feel to it that’s also quite appealing—not the isolation to which we’ve become accustomed to today, but rather the feeling of a very expensive piece of machinery doing its thing. There’s a nice V8 burble out back from the recent exhaust system, and thanks to fuel injection, it always starts and idles well. The engine bay is dominated by the giant air cleaner housing and aluminum cam covers, so it should look familiar to anyone who has own a 107-series Mercedes in the past. There are plenty of signs of maintenance throughout and some new components, and the car drives well with no major issues. It’s happy to trundle around town where it dices effortlessly with traffic or blasts down the interstate at supra-legal speeds without breaking a sweat. This is still the Mercedes for people who enjoy driving.

Underneath you can see that this car has never spent time in the harsh snow and salt areas. It isn’t perfect, of course, but the floors, subframes, and rocker panel areas are solid and undamaged. The only notable rust is a finger-sized hole in the battery tray, which shouldn’t be a surprise. The 3-speed automatic transmission was the only option in 1976 and it shifts smoothly and imperceptibly, but offers a quick downshift when you stab the accelerator—this car feels like it’s always on its toes. Out back, the independent rear end carries 3.07 gears, which are tall enough to be quiet and comfortable on the highway but allow the SOHC V8 to get into its sweet spot quickly. The suspension is more luxury than sport, but it’s confident and easy to handle, especially with power steering and brakes being part of the equation. And those brakes are 4-wheel discs that are quite effective. You’ll also note a newer exhaust system, recent fuel pumps, and signs of recent work throughout. Traditional Mercedes-Benz “bundt cake” alloys have been recently refinished and carry 205/70/14 blackwall radials.

These cars have been living under the radar for decades. They’re fast, smooth, competent, and if you have a family, not a bad choice. Add in the legendary durability of the 107 platform, the relative rarity of the body style, and the bargain price, you get a hobby car that’s easy to buy, own, and live with. Or drive it every day—you’ll be thrilled with how modern it feels even 40 years after it was born. Call today!

Harwood Motors always recommends and welcomes personal or professional inspections of any vehicle in our inventory prior to purchase.

Vehicle: 1976 Mercedes-Benz 450SLC
Price: $9,900
Stock Number: 117059
Mileage: 110,755
VIN: 10702412011775
Engine: 4.5 liter SOHC V8
Transmission: 3-speed automatic
Gear Ratio: 3.07
Wheelbase: 2820 mm
Wheels: 14-inch aluminum wheels
Tires: 205/70/14 blackwall radial
Exterior Color: Topaz Brown
Interior Color: Tan MB-Tex
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