1971-1981 Mercedes-Benz SLC

1971-1971 Mercedes-Benz SLC coupe
Mercedes-Benz 450SLC hardtop coupe

A "first" -- and so far an "only" -- for Mercedes, the 1971-1981 Mercedes-Benz SLC is a four-place offshoot of the two-seat SL, in this case the R107-series design that preceded it to market by about a year.

Chief differences were a wheelbase lengthened 14 inches to make room for a nominal back seat, plus a fixed pillarless superstructure above the resulting 2+2 cabin. The result was somewhat ungainly -- aggravated, perhaps, by vertical slats on the rear halves of the back side windows that attempted a more "close-coupled" look.

Few basic changes were made over a fairly successful 10-year run other than engine choices, which mostly paralleled shifts for concurrent SLs and involved somewhat thriftier new-generation V-8s starting in the late '70s.

A six-cylinder SLC was never part of Mercedes' U.S. line, and virtually all American-spec models carried the earlier 4.5-liter V-8. Later, bespoilered European 450SLC 5.0 and 500SLC models are occasionally seen here as private or "gray market" imports, and may be worth seeking out for their superior performance.

However, Mercedes-Benz of North America doesn't provide parts/service backup for such cars, so caveat emptor.

SLC's successor was the more stylish 380/500/560 SEC, which began appearing in 1982 as hardtop companions to their then-new parents, the W126 "S-class" sedans.

Pluses of the 1971-1981 Mercedes-Benz SLC:

  • Interesting modern Mercedes
  • Fairly rare, especially in U.S.
  • Smooth, V-8 performance
  • Mercedes-Benz's robust construction, high resale values, and high-zoot image

Minuses of the 1971-1981 Mercedes-Benz SLC:

  • Awkward styling
  • Back seat not practical for adults
  • Not that quick (except 5.0 V-8s)
  • Less nimble than an SL
  • Not yet a very high-status Mercedes collectible

Production of the 1971-1981 Mercedes-Benz SLC:

  • 350SLC: 13,925 (1971-1980)
  • 450SLC: 31,739 (1972-1980)
  • 280SLC: 10,666 (1974-1981)
  • 450SLC 5.0: 2769 (1977-1981)
  • 380SLC: 3789 (1980-1981)
  • 500SLC: 1299 (1980-1981)

Note: Parentheses indicate production years, not model years.

Specifications of the 1971-1981 Mercedes-Benz SLC:
Wheelbase, inches: 110.8
Length, inches: 186.6-196.4
Weight, pounds: 3,200-3,500
Price, new: $15,100-$36,600 (U.S.)

Engines for the 1971-1981 Mercedes-Benz SLC:

ohc V-8
3,499 cc (213.5 cid)200/230*1971-1980
ohc V-84,520 cc (275.8 cid)217-225**1971-1980
ohc V-8
4,520 cc (275.8 cid)160-190***1971-1980
dohc I-62,746 cc (168 cid)177-185**1974-1981
ohc V-84,990 cc (305 cid)240**1977-1978
ohc V-84,973 cc (304 cid)231/240**1979-1981
ohc V-8
3,818 cc (233 cid)218*1980-1981
ohc V-83,839 cc (234 cid)155***

* DIN/SAE net
** DIN (European model)
*** SAE net (U.S. model)

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