BenzWorld Junior Member
Date registered: Aug 2009
Vehicle: 1979 450sl (gone)
Location: Austin, TX
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New member with '79 450SL
Great forum! I have been restoring cars for 30 years now, having owned various older cars, including old VW bugs, '69 Porsche 911, VW Scirocco, small and big block Chevy musclecars, and several BMWs. I have been in the BMW Car Club for 19 years and still have a couple BMWs as daily drivers, and a KTM motorcycle, so certainly appreciate German engineering and a good online forum community like this one.
I am a stick shift guy who believes all cars should have 3 pedals, so have not been a big MB fan since MB keeps publicly reiterating they "are committed to automatic transmissions." Okay, fine, most people just want to get from point A to B, but sporting cars like their SLR McLaren and AMGs should at least be given the choice of a manual transmission.
However, my wife has always wanted a 450SL so we looked around until we found this nice '79 gray metallic 450SL here in Texas. I had it inspected by our local independent MB shop that came highly recommended by friends that own MBs. When I pulled in they had several in their shop (including a 500SL gray market car they just restored). Our car had the usual problems with climate control system (bypassed) and a few other minor things but otherwise was in excellent condition. It's been in Texas so no rust, and also had motor mounts and a few other rubber pieces replaced.
After reading various posts I now see MB did indeed make some early 5 speed cars, mostly 280SLs. Since my daily driver is a BMW 535i 5-speed, I know how sweet a combo a straight 6 with a 5 speed can be, so think if something in this powertrain ever goes seriously wrong I will likely do the late model MB 6 cylinder 5 speed swap!
The car is gorgeous, smooth riding, and wonderful with the top down. I find the car a bit of a slug and it gets pretty poor gas mileage, but I read on here and heard from the mechanic that checked it that is the way these cars are, with 11 mpg pretty typical (eek, I got that with big block musclecars that had huge Holley carburetors!). I suppose that's mainly due to the weight and the 3 speed slushbox, but will see if I can improve that with the normal tune up items, including a good check of the CIS FI system.