Snowballer – 1978 Mercedes 280 SLC

The coupe version of the R107 roadster, the C107, never saw as much success, and was allowed to expire soon after the C126 coupe debuted in 1980. However, that makes it an appealing value-for-money alternative to its brother and son, and in European specification with the smaller bumpers, the design is actually quite elegant in a period 1970s kind of way. Because after all, who doesn’t like a car that comes from the factory with window louvers? You can find this 1978 Mercedes 280 SLC for sale for $4000 in Auburn, CA.

1978 Mercedes 280SLC right front

White works remarkably well on this car, and is a preferred color, given all the beige and brown cars Mercedes managed to sell at the time. This particular car is a European-market 280 SLC, fitted with the twincam inline six, and putting out 185hp, instead of the 150hp available from federalized engines. That should help offset the effects of the automatic transmission. The owner has started a rally-look conversion, and whether you agree with where he stopped here, you can’t argue against the mean look of the factory rally cars. Bonus points should be given for using a proper aluminum hood, instead of just shooting the steel hood with some flat black paint.

1978 Mercedes 280SLC interior

Like the pascha interior on late 1970s Porsches, these houndstooth interiors were one of the best patterns to come out of Germany in the seventies. Everything here looks immaculate, and honestly, that’s pretty surprising for a Mercedes in this price range. While it would be neat to see this car equipped with some proper rally gauges and other competition-inspired bits, it looks so nice you don’t really want to mess with it.

1978 Mercedes 280SLC engine

The engine is said to redline at 6500rpm, if the automatic transmission will let you. It has passed smog in the past year, and has all the proper BAR tags, so no need to worry about registration in California. There is no mention of any engine issues, but there is some rust in the rockers and rear valance, as well as below the rear window. The car had new shocks recently, and is said to run and drive very well.

1978 Mercedes 280SLC left rear

At least we get half of the shot here, enough to show a factory rear spoiler (in addition to the one on the front of the car), along with some questionable (though rally-correct) trunk tie-downs. If you want to take the rally look all the way, plan on some fender flares, pulling the bumpers, adding a bull bar in front with giant fog lamps, and some wide alloy wheels – or at least put some knobby tires on those Bundt wheels. And that’s if you don’t get into any modifications to actually improve the performance…


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