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Last Saturday our Prime Find of the Week was an ultra-stylish Fiat 130 Coupé from 1974. I ended up dubbing it the grandest of Grand Tourers on a budget of around £ 10,000. But admitted, there other players in this niche of executive coupés, and this Saturday we’ll be looking at what must surely be the most convincing of German alternatives.

The popular Mercedes SL ‘Pagoda’ was superseded by the new R107 model in early 1971, and with it came the introduction of the 11 inch longer and very sleek C107 SLC version shortly after. While the 2-seater drop-top SL stayed in production for a massive 18 years, the fixed-head 4-seater coupé ceased production after 10 years in 1981. During those 10 years Mercedes pumped out some 62,000 SLC’s – almost only a quarter of SL production, so in Mercedes-Benz terms the SLC is a relatively rare model. In comparison, the period little brother W123 coupé almost reached 100,000 produced in its 9 year lifespan. The big SLC offered quite a variety of engines ranging from their acclaimed straight-6 twincam M110 engine in the base 280SLC, and then a brace of M116 & M117 V8 engines starting with the 3.5 litre and 4.5 litre later growing to 3.8 litre and 5.0 litre along with the minor 1980 facelift.

The presentation of the SLC at the Paris Motorshow in 1971.

So the SL was – and still is for that matter – more popular than the SLC. Therefore, the SL also commands higher prices as a classic than the SLC currently does. All of which suits me just fine, as I have always found the SLC a whole lot more appealing. Maybe that’s just down to my childhood memories sitting in the passenger seat of my father’s deep red metallic 450SLC listening to that beautiful V8 burble quietly out front. Or maybe it’s because ViaRETRO’s own Claus Ebberfeld has just acquired a white 450SLC of his own, and I’m suffering from severe car-jealousy. Who knows? Or maybe it’s just because the SLC is a seriously handsome coupé, with bullet-proof German engineering offering the best of executive luxury for those grand touring roadtrips…

This particular SLC is a late car from 1981 with the 3.8 litre V8 engine and an automatic gearbox. Yes, I know! We all want the biggest engine. But as a classic car I’ll argue that it probably doesn’t really matter all that much. Not many will use their classic SLC flat-out anyway. Personally, I would just appreciate having that sweet V8 burble. Besides, the newer 380SLC is only down by 7hp compared to the 450SLC, although in fairness it does lack a fair amount of torque. But then the newer SLC wins on having a 4-speed automatic gearbox rather than the older 3-speed found in the 350SLC and 450SLC. The seller claims it’s a one-lady-owner car with 114k miles on the clock. However he has registered as a private seller, yet fails to explain his connection to that one lady owner. So is he perhaps the second owner? Regardless, the 380SLC was apparently treated to a body restoration back in 2002, had its gearbox rebuilt in 2011, and comes with a current MOT. I find the rare yellow colour truly charming and a great contrast to the more usual silver and light blue colours often found on SLC’s. Furthermore, that brown velour interior is so deliciously retro, even if there is some wear to be found on the driver’s seat.
Here are a few choice pictures of the Mercedes-Benz 380SLC in all its splendid yellow:

At £ 11,999 it does seem decidedly good value. Where else will you find such a complete GT-package for less than the cost of a boring new rep-mobile? Have a look at the full sales advert here:

http://www.carandclassic.co.uk/car/C911068

But which tempts you the most: Italian flair or German engineering?

 

 

With our Saturday instalment of Prime Find of the Week, we’re offering our services to the classic car community, by passing on our favourite classic car for sale from the week that passed. This top-tip might help a first-time-buyer to own his first classic, or it could even be the perfect motivation for a multiple-classic-car-owner to expand his garage with something different. We’ll let us inspire by anything from a cheap project to a stunning concours exotic, and hope that you will do the same.
Just remember – Any Classic is Better than No Classic! We obviously invite our readers to help prospective buyers with your views and maybe even experiences of any given model we feature. Further to that, if you stumble across a classic which you feel we ought to feature as Prime Find of the Week, then please send us a link to primefindoftheweek@viaretro.co.uk

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2 Responses

  1. Claus Ebberfeld
    Claus Ebberfeld

    Magnificently Seventies in that colour combination, Anders. Great find! And yes I of course am biased having just acquired an SLC which I am absolutely chuffed with.

    Nonetheless it is a very interesting comparison between the FIAT 130 Coupé and this. The cars are SO different in their execution that the comparison has indeed never occured to me before – even though I have been a great admirer of both for many years.

    I was lucky enough to drive a 130 Coupé years ago and absolutely loved it. However the SLC is a much more substantial car – quite literally. I guess you could put it down to being a question of national character. Not to be mistaken with the typical “style over substance”-bashing of the Italians, mind – even though the FIAT is much more exuberant in its presence its is also a resolved and comfortable cruiser.

    I’d be hard pressed for a choice between the two, if similar in condition and price.

    Reply
  2. Anders Bilidt
    Anders Bilidt

    You are of course right Claus, the 130 Coupé and the 380SLC are indeed very different. In period the Mercedes would have obviously also been more expensive and no doubt viewed as being more upmarket. Perhaps comparing the 130 Coupé with a 6-cylinder 280SLC would have been more fair – and more relevant.

    However, in terms of being a classic car, I feel the comparison is valid. They are both highly accomplished and luxurious GT coupés from the very early 70’s, and they currently have approximately the same market value too.

    In fact – just like you – I find them so comparable, that I too struggle to decide, which one of the two I would prefer to take with me home…

    Reply

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