1979 Mercedes 450 SLC Restoration Tribute
Michael is a very cool customer. At the tender age of just 24 he is training to become a commercial pilot, smoking around in this oh so cool 1979 Mercedes 450 SLC. This guy has his head screwed on.
A classic 450 SLC Mercedes is certainly not the kind of car you would expect a young guy to be driving. You’d probably expect to see your average 24 year old in some kind of hot hatch, right?
There’s a good reason Michael owns this car but we’ll get to that.
When I first met Michael, he was collecting the SLC from Workshop Seventy7 in Weedon on the outskirts of Northamptonshire, after a light restoration.Workshop Seventy7 is a design and fabrication shop who are famous for creating uncompromising sports cars, a modern vision of world-famous classic cars, remaining true to their pedigree and heritage.
Michael is a real gentleman. He sat and answered my incessant questions patiently, while the guys at Workshop Seventy7 readied his SLC.
His Mercedes was delivered to the shop in a sorry state, after failing an MOT in 2005 then resting, forgotten in a garage for the best part of 15 years. Michael was only 10 when the car was laid to rest so doesn’t remember all that much about it.
Why a 1979 450 SLC? That’s a cool story.
This SLC was purchased nearly new by Michaels father when he was living in Glasgow, Scotland. He used the Mercedes as his very cool daily driver for years.
They say life is a never-ending journey, and Michaels fathers journey took him away from Scotland to West Africa with his work.
The SLC was tucked away safely in the garage at his Scottish home, patiently waiting for the day when it would be needed again.
He eventually settled down in Nigeria and started a family. Every summer they would return to Scotland where the faithful SLC was always waiting. The Mercedes would be their summer transport, and when summer was over, it would be placed back into storage ready for the next year.
Despite being stored in a garage, the Scottish winters took their toll on the SLC and in 2005 it failed it’s MOT. The mechanicals were still good, but the body had deteriorated and was in a poor state, so the tired SLC was laid up, waiting for the right set of circumstances to come about that might lead to the cars’ recommissioning.
Unfortunately, Michaels’ father didn’t get to see the car back on the road, he passed away a few years later in 2011.
This could quite easily have been the end of the road for the 1979 SLC and the end of our story. Unloved and forgotten in a garage in Glasgow.
Michaels was only 15 years old when his father passed away, so not even legally entitled to drive. Inevitably, he got busy with his own life, and for years, the SLC was mostly forgotten.
It moved a couple of times: first, it was placed in storage in Aberdeen, then later taken down to the family home in Croyden where it sat in the garage. Michael said: “it was quite sad to look at, all rusty, sat there on flat tyres.”
Then in 2019, with support from family members, most notably Michaels Grandma, a plan was hatched by the family to restore the car as a tribute to Michael’s father. We should all be so lucky.
WorkshopSeventy7 received the car and began the process of breathing new life into the old SLC.
The brief was a kind of light restoration. Not a back to bare metal, nut and bolt resto but a pretty big job none the less.
The car hadn’t run since failed its mot in 2005. The to-do list was extensive: engine work, full braking system, exhaust, suspension (bushes, bearings, shocks) then lots of rust (chassis, suspension mounts and body) and a full respray.
All in, the WorkshopSeventy7 team put 346 hours of labour into the car. 4 weeks of that was welding: floors, sills, arches, chassis, inner arches and so much more.
The Interior was in good order. It wore its patina with pride, it’s a Mercedes after all and they wear well. The interior needed cleaning, electrics needed work, the brightwork needed refurbishing or replacing and it needed new tyres. They also dropped the ride height 30mm to give it the correct stance and attitude.
We mentioned earlier that the bodywork was in a poor state. I happened to see the car on the ramps and wondered why someone was spending time and money restoring an SLC in this condition. For the labour cost alone, you could probably have found a better base car to start with. Honestly, when the car was finished, it probably cost more than it was worth at that moment.
That’s missing the point though. This SLC is not about money, it’s about love. It’s a rolling tribute to his father, a celebration you could say. It’s so much more than a car, It’s a lifetime of memories, familiar smells and sounds, adventures and shared experiences. You can’t put a price on that, it is simply priceless.
Having said that, Mercedes SLC’s are creeping up in price and I would confidently say this is an appreciating classic. Since Michael collected the car from Workshop Seventy7, prices for an SLC in this condition already exceed the cost of the restoration.
It was a pleasure to meet Michael and an absolute privilege seeing this car reborn.