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I'm in the market for an R107 and have pretty much settled on a '72-'73 model for various reasons. Of course, one thing I like about those early cars and the pre-5mph bumpers. However, in looking at various cars online I have seen two or three U.S. model 1973 450SL's with the big bumpers. My questions is, were some U.S. '73 R107's manufactured with the big bumpers? Was this a mid-year transition at the factory? Alternatively, do you think any such cars were retrofitted with the big bumpers later (e.g. during collision repair), or are they perhaps not really '73 models in the first place?

Here's an example of a big-bumper "1973" 450SL (DMV records indeed list this car as a '73)

1973 Mercedes Benz 450 SL Convertible – LOW MILES – 450SL 73
 

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1973 450 SL
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All 73's had the small bumper. Possibly an accident caused the owner to put on the later bumpers. The early bumpers are very costly.
 

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1986 560SL: '84 500SL: '84 280SL 5 speed: other 107s
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Bumpers could have been changed but the smaller ones were stock. The radio antenna should be on the LF fender.
 

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'72 350SL, '85 300D, '98 E320, '19 Subaru Outback (sold '14 GLK250)
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Car looks good, but has obviously been worked on. It would be nice to know the full history - An inspection by a body shop may be able to uncover how the "upgrades" were done.
 

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1986 560 SL
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The OP raises an interesting point: when do model-year transitions take place?

Modern cars' data plates include the actual date of manufacture, and you can see that cars are often built several months before the designated model year, especially for new models where the maker needs to build up inventory before introduction.

It seems plausible that some big-bumper cars might have been built quite early in 1973 for fall introduction as '74 models. Did some get registered as '73s, then or later?
 

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82 380SL 96 SL500 03 SL500
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The OP raises an interesting point: when do model-year transitions take place?

Modern cars' data plates include the actual date of manufacture, and you can see that cars are often built several months before the designated model year, especially for new models where the maker needs to build up inventory before introduction.

It seems plausible that some big-bumper cars might have been built quite early in 1973 for fall introduction as '74 models. Did some get registered as '73s, then or later?
That's possible, but I'd more likely guess an owner "upgraded" to the big bumpers to make his car look like a newer model. This would be much like many of the cars found that had the third stop light added.
 

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1986 560 SL
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That's possible, but I'd more likely guess an owner "upgraded" to the big bumpers to make his car look like a newer model. This would be much like many of the cars found that had the third stop light added.
The relocated antenna that Rowdie spotted supports your theory. Most poseurs were happy just to swap trunk emblems.
 

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1973 450SL 2004 E320 4Matic Wagon 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee
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Titled as a 73, but a 74 model. The antenna is the clue. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.
 

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560SL, 450SL, S500, 230E
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The production of -74 model year for USA (with big bumpers) started 24.8.1973, from 450SL serial number -15082. The metal plate in B-pillar tells the actual production month.

The antenna was installed in the back from serial number - 21189, 24.6.1974.

It is common practise still today at MB to start the production of next model year sometime in August.
 
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