1978 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC Coupe
When Mercedes-Benz finally laid to rest the lovely but ageing W111 range of coupes in 1971, a small but significant gap was left in the German carmaker’s model range and it wasn’t until the SLC was announced that a suitable replacement was found. Based on a long wheelbase version of the latest SL sports roadster platform, the SLC model was a proper 2+2, with pillarless side windows and the roofline raised for additional headroom. The SLC’s interior was typically well thought out and finished to the highest standards, capable of seating four adults in comfort and the longer doors made access to the rear seats relatively simple. The SLC shared the same incredibly strong bodyshell as its SL sibling, incorporating side impact protection in the doors and crumple zones to offer unparalleled safety. Mechanically, the SLC was initially sold in two versions, either with the classic twin-cam six-cylinder engine or the new overhead-camshaft V8, the latter available only with a three-speed automatic transmission. In 450 guise, the car was powered by Daimler-Benz’s powerful and robust M117 V8, with an overhead camshaft and Bosch electronic fuel injection. With 225 horsepower and huge reserves of torque on tap, the 450 SLC was a strong performer, being designed to cruise the autobahns at speeds in excess of 200 km/h all day long. Suspension was via semi-trailing arms that provided more predictable handling characteristics than the swing axles of earlier generation SLs. The SLC proved a supremely successful Grand Tourer and remained in production, largely unchanged, for the better part of a decade. Surviving examples are the most affordable SL variant of all, yet the virtues – incredible build quality, robust mechanicals, safety and the added bonus of driving something with the three-pointed star up front – make them great value.