Saturday, September 10, 2016

Mercstang or Mustedes:1973 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL

Some things are just not done. Considered taboo, blasphemy or bad form, they just break traditionally long held beliefs. If you are not a traditionalist and constrained by old notions all bets are off. Throw off the yoke of convention and watch the old guard yell and scream. Take this to a German car show and you will be politely and efficiently asked to leave; to a Ford Mustang meet up maybe they will let you stay hood up. Find this 1973 Mercedes-Benz 450 SL/Mustang Cobra engine swapped beast on Craigslist in Indianapolis, Indiana with an asking price of $4,500.00 cash preferred. 

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Wearing brown paint and a center stripe betrays nothing about what lies inside. The paint and trim look tidy and the body work straight and nice looking. You can find examples all along the price spectrum from show room clean to rust bucket. So far looks like every other 450 SL that you have seen, but this one is different. Why this particular car became a heart transplant recipient is unknown. Did the original power plant give up the ghost or after depreciating and falling into the wrong hands did the deferred maintenance catch up? Whatever the reason I am glad that it exists.


Pop the hood and therein lies the heart of a thoroughbred. Where once was a German power plant now rests an American 90-degree, DOHC V-8 displacing 4.6 liters and making 305 horsepower. So what you say! To purists and followers of the three pointed star this is unthinkable. The classic SL shape with an American engine how can this be? This would be the equivalent of taking the beautifully shaped Messerschmidt ME-109 and throwing out the German engine for a V-12 Packard V-1650-7 from a P-51 Mustang. Or transplanting the Rolls-Royce Merlin on which the Packard was based into the Messerschmidt. Such things are not done. Ever. Pass the smelling salts Schultz just passed out. Mustang drivers may have finally found a German car they would not mind driving.  



On the inside we see the manual shifter and can just barely make out the prized three pedals. The advertisement mentions a five speed transmission, but fails to mention if the Mustang transmission was a transplant as well or if it retains the original unit. My bet is on Ford transmission. With a reported 20K miles on the odometer after the restoration it should be well sorted, but the seller mentions this is a car for someone with mechanical ability. Love the truth in advertising. The seats and interior look to be in good shape for the age.


With 80K on the odometer and at this price you could have a lot of fun with this convertible that even comes with the hard top. I would ditch the wheel and either go back to the original rims or steel rims. What would you do?  

See a something more confusing to a purist? email us here: tips@dailyturismo.com


A refugee from the frozen north who loves running and watersports, Adam can be found looking for the next slow car to drive fast when he has access to electronics he hasn't immersed in liquids. He is an analog kid not a digital man.

14 comments:

  1. Bullitt Torque Thrust, black centers
    [image src="http://cdn.corvetteonline.com/files/2012/02/3550516308_aac38d8ede.jpg" width="400px"/]

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  2. Looks like they swapped in the Mustang steering wheel and gauges. Top needs replacing, and those hideous wheels need to go. Finally, I'd get a screwdriver, and pry off the silly cobra badge on the trunklid. All that said, where else are you going to find a running, cobra-engined anything for this price?

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  3. Sorry guys, one of the embedded images in a recent comment borqed the site, so I had to delete a few comments to get things back up.

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    1. That was me, sorry it was a picture of Shultz from Hogan's Heroes. What did I do wrong? Thought I embedded it the usual way,didn't mean to break the site....

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    2. I meant Major Hochstetter (maybe Shultz wouldn't have broken the site)

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    3. Looking at the code, you left the quotes off from around the image URL, but the very odd thing is, we don't think that actually caused the problem because it still broke it *with* the quotes. And that URL otherwise works fine. So who can explain? Maybe Hogan?

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  4. Wow, when I saw the title that inferred a 70's Benz with a Mustang powerplant, I thought "just another ho-hum late 80's EFI 302 w/AOD". Must have taken a ton of work to get this engine/drivetrain in and functioning seamlessly.

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  5. Some styling issues but over all pretty bad ass.

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  6. "This would be the equivalent of taking the beautifully shaped Messerschmidt ME-109 and throwing out the German engine for a V-12 Packard V-1650-7 from a P-51 Mustang. Or transplanting the Rolls-Royce Merlin on which the Packard was based into the Messerschmidt. Such things are not done. Ever."

    Nice comment bait with reference to the Hispano Aviation HA-1112-M1L, the post WWII iteration of the famous Messerschmitt Bf109. At least this one's a sleeper, unlike the ungainly profile change with the 1112. Even weirder to see one flying in mock dogfights with Mustangs and Spitfires using the same engine, with all combatants sounding the same as they pass.

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    1. kind of how i imagine LeMons races (nope, never) with all the Volvo, Porsche, Miata, Corvair, etc, LS1 swaps rumbling by - and a Saab with two of them

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    2. Yeah the Flying Heritage Collection a few miles north of where I live, has a bf109 with its original Daimler Benz and a P-51 - both are regularly flown in the summer. They sound quite different when they fly them.

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  7. I'd be interested in seeing more pictures of the front suspension modifications. From the one picture shown, the A-Arm appears to b shifted ~1/2" inboard, perhaps to try to adjust for the wonky steering due to the Mustang(?) steering rack being way too wide? With the rack extending so far past the pivot point of the A-Arm, the turning radius and/or suspension travel at full lock must be severely limited. If I'm wrong, show me: I'd love to put a rack and pinion under mine! If I'm right, buyer beware...

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