1977 Mercedes 450SLC

About the SLC

The SLC fit at the top of the Mercedes range (outside the special order 600 limo) as the full size coupe.   Unlike Mercedes normal practice of basing the full size coupe off the S class, it was based off the SL, with the chassis lengthened to allow a 2+2 configuration.    At the time there was speculation of legislation in the USA that would have made convertibles impractical, but even when this didn’t eventuate the car was put into production anyway, and the W116 S class is the only one that never had a coupe variant.

As well as being a luxury GT car, the SLC also had a successful career as an endurance rally car, first with the 4.5l v8 and then later the new all alloy 5.0 liter v8.

The SLC was introduced in 1971 and discontinued in 1981 replaced by the S-class derived SEC.   It’s brother, the 107 SL continued on until 1989 making it one of Mercedes longest production runs.

The SLC was offered with a choice of 6 and 8 cylinder engines.   (280SLC, 350SLC, 380SLC, 450SLC, 500SLC).   The 450 was the most common both globally and in Australia.

About this car

450SLC

450SLC (at purchase)

This particular car is a 450SLC, which means it has the 4.5 liter M117 V8 engine.    As an Australian delivery car, it has the low compression version of the 4.5l due to the ill-conceived ADR27A regulations at the time.   (The high compression version has 217hp).   The 450 was only mildly affected by ADR27a compared with other engines such as the M110 and didn’t come with a Catalytic converter as was required in the USA, further reducing the power of the models there.

The car was purchased new at McIntosh of Mosman by Fletchers Fotographics in 1977 (a camera store which was successful at the time).   Given how expensive these cars were new, It was likely the personal car of Mr Fletcher (or perhaps his wife), the owner of the business for its first 14 years, passed through a couple of other owners until I purchased it in early 2003.   It has a full service history and now almost 300,000kms.     I use this car as my primary car, although realistically probably gets used about once a week.

Option CodeMeaning
401Single seats
410Electric sliding roof
436Elimination of front safety belts
440Tempomat (Cruise control)
466Central locking
524Paintcoat preservation
586Behr A/C and F/R power windows
599Heat insulating glass for side and rear
601Oil for rear axle with limited slip
613Lamp unit for LH traffic
625Version for Australia
631First aid box
668662: 10l of fuel
666: Packing VE II
677Tropical battery
682Fire extinguisher
256Limited slip differential

Over the years I’ve had the car I’ve not had to do much mechanically to it – about 3 years after I purchased the car I had a small amount of rust cut away from around the rear screen (common in these cars) and the boot lid.    In May 2016 I had some further rust cut out and the entire car re-sprayed to its original (906G) colour.

After repaint

I also replaced the 14″ alloys with the 16″ I had on my old 560SEC.   They are the right offset for this car and it is hard to get decent 14″ tyres without spending a motza.

Why an SLC?

When I returned from the USA in 2003, I wanted a practical classic that I could have as my only car, and I could get for around AUD$15-20k.   The SLC fit the bill as the hard top and occasional rear seats meant that I could take passengers when needed, and the 4.5 liter engine and 3 speed transmission are known as being especially long lived.    I was looking for a 450, and not in white, preferably with a sunroof.   I also preferred a later car with the K-Jet injection, as while the ADR regulations slow the cars down a bit, I had heard this was a bit more practical for day to day use as parts and expertise for D-Jet is getting harder to find.   In addition, being a 1977 car it comes with the anchorage points for an Australian compliant child seat.

Driving an SLC

The best way to experience an SLC is a long drive with the windows rolled down, enjoying the pillarless coupe.   The 450 is a very torquey v8, but will move quickly if you use the gear shifter to hold the gears for longer.   The SLC handles well with its long wheelbase, and although heavy it gives you a very solid feel as you drive it.   These days it is hard to find decent tires in the stock size, so fitting 15″ or 16″ wheels allows you to run tyres more appropriate for this type of car (the later models came standard with 15″ and AMG provided 16″ options).

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