By Keith Nobles
The 1970’s were a sad time for automobiles in the United States. Emission and safety regulations, soaring auto insurance rates, and the intermittent gasoline shortages coupled with rising gasoline prices had brought an end to the competition for horsepower that defined the late 1960’s.
The famous muscle cars of the ‘60’s had by the 1970’s transformed into ‘personal luxury coupes’ with much less horsepower and much more velour.
The cool factor was all but gone.
One of the few 1970’s cars that still oozed cool was the Mercedes-Benz 450SL. The 450SL was a two-seat roadster with a convertible top and available as a hard-top coupe and V8 engine that screamed cool. When a 450SL passed, people looked.
The 450SL was manufactured beginning in 1972 for the 1973 model year and production continued through the 1980 model year. Although it was a two-seat roadster the 450SL was not a light-weight car, tipping the scales at about 3,600 pounds. The 450SL could accelerate from 0-60 in about 10.2 seconds and had a quarter-mile time of 17.7 seconds. Those times are not considered quick when compared to the 1960’s or when compared to today’s performance cars but in the 1970’s those numbers were downright respectable.
By 1979 the list price for the 450SL was north of $31,000. Anyone who owned the Mercedes-Benz 450SL was informing the world that they were well enough off not to care about insurance rates or gasoline prices. The car represented diamond tennis bracelets and afternoons at the country club, not days working in the mill followed by Miller Time. None the less, in a decade of social, political and economic uncertainty the 450SL was the car many people gazed upon with a far-away look in their eyes, hoping to one day attain the level of economic success and security the 450SL epitomized.
As a collectable car, in many cases the 450SL has not appreciated much beyond the original list price. Premium examples are currently fetching less than $40,000 at auction.
Mercedes-Benz R107 and C107 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercedes-Benz_R107_and_C107
Hagerty Valuations https://www.hagerty.com/apps/valuationtools/1973-Mercedes~Benz-450SL
NADA Guides 1979 450SL https://www.nadaguides.com/Cars/1979/Mercedes-Benz/450SL/2-Door-Coupe-Roadster/Values