1972 Mercedes-Benz 350 SLC 5.0 "Rally" - £14,995

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This is a 1972 Mercedes-Benz 350 SLC 5.0 "Rally". The car started life as a standard 350 SLC but has been uprated to 450 SLC 5.0 rally spec with the all aluminium 5.0l engine and 4 speed auto box. The car has had a fortune spent and is suitable for regulation Rallies and fast road cruising immediately. She looks amazing and drives great!

Although larger than their predecessors, the 350SL convertible and 350SLC coupe retained the overall look of the long-running 230/250/280SL family and were the first of the Mercedes-Benz sportscar line to use a V8 engine, the latter's 200bhp more than offsetting the increase in bulk. All-independent suspension similar to that of the New Generation 200/250 models ensured superb ride and handling, while four-wheel disc brakes (ventilated at the front) helped restrain the 130mph-plus performance. There was a choice of either four-speed manual or similar automatic transmission. The 350SLC coupe was 14" longer in the wheelbase than the convertible 350SL, the extra length affording room for two rear seats, and could be distinguished by its louvred rear side window, absent from the SL. Luxuriously equipped in the finest Mercedes-Benz tradition, the 350SL and 350SLC were more sports-tourers than outright sportscars, a fact that did nothing whatsoever to harm sales that totalled in excess of 29,000 units between 1971 and 1980.

"The V8 engined Mercedes-Benz 450SLC 5.0, or the later 500SLC, might have been big, but it handled extremely well. Even though the cars had automatic transmission, they were very fast, especially on endurance rallies." – Graham Robson, A-Z of Works Rally Cars.

Introduced in 1977, the 450 SLC 5.0 model was powered by a new 4,990cc aluminium-alloy V8 engine that was both lighter and more powerful than the existing 4.5-litre unit. The use of aluminium extended to the bonnet, boot, and wheels, the result being a reduction in weight of over 100kg when compared to the 'old' 450 SLC. With a lower-drag bodyshell, courtesy of spoilers front and rear, the '5.0' was also more efficient aerodynamically than its predecessor, which further reduced fuel consumption, an increasingly important issue, even for sports cars. Not sold in the USA, traditionally Mercedes-Benz's most important market, the '5.0' was built in correspondingly limited numbers, only 2,769 being completed between 1977 and 1981. Maximum speed of the '5.0' was some 10km/h faster than that of the '4.5' at around 225km/h.

As well as numerous racetrack successes in period, the Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC proved equally suited to the contrasting demands of endurance rallying. In 1978 the factory prepared two examples for the one-off Vuelta a la América del Sur, a month-long event of some 7,000 kilometres in length that took the competitors from Buenos Aires and back via Rio, Manaus, Caracas, Bogota, Lima, La Paz, Santiago and Ushuaia. The two Mercedes performed perfectly, with the car driven by Andrew Cowan and Colin Malkin winning by 20 minutes from team-mates Sobiesław Zasada and Andrzej Zembrzuski. Proving that this amazing result was no fluke, in 1979 a 5.0-litre 450 SLC driven by Hannu Mikkola won the Bandama Rally in Côte d'Ivoire, with others finishing 2nd, 3rd and 4th. That same year the factory had used the 450 SLC '5.0' to contest the Safari Rally, only narrowly missing out on victory because of suspension breakages. Nevertheless, the car driven by Hannu Mikkola finished 2nd. Results in 1980 were less good, and the factory team was disbanded at the season's end.

The previous owner of this car wanted to try and find a strong, reliable car for endurance rallies and soon realised that a Mercedes 450 SLC 5.0 would be perfect for his needs and loved the look of the factory works car. The price of genuine 5.0 rally cars was astronomical so he decided to build a faithful replica for his own use. He wanted a pre '73 car to run in the pre 73 class which also comes with with conventional centre hand brake. He started the search in 2016 and eventually found this car, apparently fully restored and ready to go. The heavy Iron 350 V8 engine and 3 speed box were immediately replaced by the all Alu 500 Engine with the 4 speed auto box bringing the car into 450SLC 5.0 Spec. The car had covered 177k Miles but as a new engine and Box had been fitted, this was not important. Brantz Nav gear was fitted with LED lights in boot, under bonnet and in the cabin and an aluminium bonnet was supplied and fitted.

He embarked on a 3500 Rally around Spain and the car never missed a beat. His next task was to prepare the car for the 2019 Winter Trial so another restoration ensued! The wings, bumpers and all exterior panels that could be unbolted  were removed and the extent of the rust was established. Sills, jacking points, front floor pans, rear quarters, front inner wings and rear valances were all replaced, whilst apart front cross member suspension pick up points were reinforced. New standard OEM road springs, steering damper and the thickest rubber suspension donuts (raising the car slightly) were acquired from Mercedes. Competition Koni shocks were bought from Koni Classic Competition Department. Brakes were brilliant so just new pads fitted. Mercedes Mexican Hat aluminium road wheels were sourced, fitted with winter snow tires and put on the car  The car was put back together with off shore oil services paint and loads of wax sprayed on all hidden inner surfaces. She was then given a respray and trim refitted. The best battery he could buy was installed as they were expecting -10c. Dipping Super Oscars were added as were hi output bulbs in the headlights as there were night sections as well.

They did the 2019 Winter Trail going through a vicious learning curve. With exception of a smashed exhaust they finished with no issues driving to and from the event. On return a custom stainless steel exhaust was commissioned and a sump shield made. She went on to do another 4 events with no issues driving to and from the event and never not finishing.  She has been a safe, strong, reliable, easy handling and when pushed a genuinely fast car. A brilliant gentleman’s long distance rally car. She’s a roomy comfy old girl with loads of space to put stuff which makes her a navigators dream. If your navigator isn’t happy in his office no matter how well you drive you’re going nowhere! 

The car comes with the original steel wheels and hubcaps and a selection of spares. It would be very difficult and expensive to replicate this machine today but this carn be yours for an extremely reasonable price! Plan your next events in this fun Rally car!