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Old 08-29-2007, 09:52 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: Fountain, NC
Posts: 91
1979 450 Slc

Got a line on one I kinda like. 165,000 miles, had timing chain redone recently, converted to 134, and had a trans rebuild. Whats to look out for on these cars? Are they decently powered? I want another sports car, but I dont want another Corvette, and my 300D has spoiled me with its comfort and solid construction.

"Ninja monkeys are meeting as we speak, plotting my demise."

1982 300D "Melba" 332k
1985 4Runner "billygoat" 204k
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Old 08-29-2007, 09:59 PM
ScottinSoCal's Avatar
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Join Date: Oct 2006
Posts: 252
Originally Posted by Obnoxio View Post
Got a line on one I kinda like. 165,000 miles, had timing chain redone recently, converted to 134, and had a trans rebuild. Whats to look out for on these cars? Are they decently powered? I want another sports car, but I dont want another Corvette, and my 300D has spoiled me with its comfort and solid construction.
They're not going to rival your Vette. A 79 had 180 bhp from the factory and weighs over 4000 lbs. 0-60 times are about 11 seconds.

The mileage on the one you're looking at is good. It isn't radically low, so you shouldn't have a lot of dried seals (and the resulting leaks). It isn't extremely high. Make sure maintenance was done on a regular basis by qualified people.

The only thing you've written that concerns me is the trans rebuild. I had to rebuild mine, but I'm pretty sure that's because the first trans service I had done, right after I got the car, almost required them to spoon the trans fluid out. It hadn't been changed in who-knows-how-long. In my case they didn't neglect the engine, just the transmission. I'm just short of 150K miles and it doesn't burn a drop of oil and the compression on the cylinders is all within spec and within a few lbs. of each other. They didn't have MB qualified people doing the work, though, and that meant a lot of lubricating odd spots; door hinges, the top mechanism (not an issue on your SLC) the door locks, the side mirrors, you name it.

Personally, I like the fuel system in the 77-79 cars. It has no electronics and is very easy to diagnose and repair once you're familiar with it. The climate control system is another matter. I've got mine working, but it took weeks and nearly $1,000. My AC had also been converted to 134 and I didn't need any AC parts, just the servo/amplifier and lots of time spent finding and repairing vacuum leaks, then replacing vacuum pods. At one point I almost threw in the towel and went with solenoids and a custom panel, just to get away from the servo/amplifier setup. Now that it's working I'm happy with it, but if it breaks I've still got the part numbers for those solenoids.

All in all, if they've got records or you can verify service in some other way, I'd go for it as a daily driver, provided it had no rust and the price was right. Rust scares me, and after 30 years a lot of them have rust.
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Old 08-30-2007, 12:35 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Battle Ground, WA
Posts: 576
I've got both a '79 450SL and an '82 380SL. The '82 380SL has a 560SL engine and transmission installed. I like them both for different reasons. The '79 is in great shape after installing a new interior (except for the door panels) and installing a digital servo for the ACII climate control system. It has lower? gearing than the '82, so the engine spins faster at any given RPM than the '82 does. It is a very nice handling car and rides well. It doesn't get as good mileage as the '82, however - around 18 mpg on the freeway.
The '82 is my daily driver - it's got LOADS of power, gets almost 22mpg on the freeway, and handles well. I much prefer the gearing on the '82 for higher speeds, as the engine turns about 1K lower rpm than the '79 at 75 mph. The '79 is definitely up to handling the higher rpms, though, as I bought the car in Florida and drove it to the State of Washington, over 3K miles, at speeds of up to 85 or so in three days. It just drinks a lot more gas than the '82...
There are two main concerns on the '79 - the front subframe will fail if it hasn't already been fixed or replaced, and the ACII climate control system will fail if it hasn't already. New vacuum pods and a digital servo update will fix the ACII system, and a new subframe will fix the front end trouble. (Still serviced under a recall, I believe.) A new, improved subframe is available from Performance Products for around $650, and the digital servo is available from them for around $699. Both items are also available from this forum's sponsor, as are the vacuum pods.
If you can afford it, I would hold out for an '87 - 89 560SL. They have a much improved front end, and there are many, many refinements throughout the car. They cost more, but I think they are worth it, and you can generally find one with lower mileage and much less or even no rust. Just my .02 worth.
Richard Wooldridge
'01 ML320
'82 300D 4.3L V6/T700R4 conversion
'82 380SL, '86 560SL engine/trans. installed
'79 450SL, digital servo update
'75 280C
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Old 08-30-2007, 08:22 AM
Super Moderator
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: Falls Church, VA
Posts: 5,316
The only point that I would add is that there is almost no market interest in average mileage, average condition SLC's, so financially it's a bust.
Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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Old 08-30-2007, 05:53 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: S. Texas
Posts: 1,237
Don't worry about your 0 to 60 time. I have a 1977 450slc that will go from zero to speeding ticket as fast as any car on the road. Because these cars are so heavy they time off the line is poor but they will go from 40mph to 130mph a lot faster than you would imagine.

My car is not very good on fuel and the prices quoted for parts and labor to work on the injection system will stop your heart. That is why I intend to install a 5 liter Ford in the car in the next year or so. Get more horse power, which I really don't need, better milage, and much cheaper repairs.

The slc sells for about half what the sl goes for. I don't know why since the slc is a much more stylish looking car and certainly safer. Mostly you buy an slc just because you want one. In the long run you will never make money on the car.

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