1976 Mercedes-Benz 400-Series
Regular viewers know that we love the R107 Mercedes-Benz SLs. Durable, fun to drive, stylish, and shockingly affordable, they're the embodiment of everything we love about cars. This 1976 Mercedes-Benz 450SL, for example, wears bright red paint, is loaded with options, has a top that goes down (of course), and has a sticker price less than a beat-up used Honda. Yeah, pretty hard to do better than this on a budget. We won't tell anyone how affordable this car is, so when you pull into your driveway, your neighbors will think you won the lottery. Somehow, this car is frozen in our collective psyche as the ultimate example of status, luxury, and power, and just showing up in one means you get A-list treatment. It's even better in bright red, which is about as high-visibility as you can get. It's probably original paint, which speaks highly of the Mercedes-Benz efforts, but it is now 40 years old so it's showing some age. As always, build quality was exemplary and these cars just don't seem to wear out and they tend to lead good lives with people who care for them, and that's clearly been the case here. It doesn't look like it has ever spent a winter in the snow and despite being topless, the doors open and close with that feeling of precision that no other roadster has been able to duplicate. All the chrome trim is original, so it might be showing its age just a little bit, but the rubber bumpers mandated by the Feds are in great shape and there's no mistaking those traditional Mercedes-Benz taillights out back. This car is an icon. An SL interior always manages to be both sporty and luxurious. This one wears black MB Tex upholstery, which is both durable and comfortable. The dark color works quite well against the red paint, and it appears that new seat covers were installed over the original seats, so they're in good shape. There's genuine wood on the dash to warm things up, and the big, bold, clear instruments should look familiar to anyone who has driven a Mercedes in the past four decades. Lots of standard features, including a newer Kenwood AM/FM/CD/iPod stereo with a custom speaker setup in the rear package shelf area, power windows, and other goodies are all part of the deal here, so it's truly a no-compromises car. The black canvas convertible top is there for emergencies and seals up remarkably well, while a removable hardtop is also included. And despite the SL's diminutive size, the trunk is functional and finished with a rubber mat, perfect for two people and their luggage. The 4.5 liter SOHC V8 under the hood was a Mercedes-Benz hallmark for years, and by 1976, it had been refined to the point where it was virtually indestructible. Today, parts and knowledge are easy to find, and most SL fans discover that despite the car's complexity, it's no more difficult to service than any other daily driver. The 3-speed automatic transmission was the only choice in the US, and it does feel syrupy in normal driving, but start getting aggressive and it moves with you, dropping down a gear to get into the meaty part of the torque curve. The four-wheel independent suspension is supple yet hangs on when you're hustling, and the brakes are 4-wheel discs for impressive stopping power. Correct 14-inch alloys wear 205/70/14 blackwalls for an understated look. Still famous after all these years, the SL has aged gracefully. This isn't a perfect car, but it's priced right and a bit of TLC could really be a smart investment. Call today!