At $7,999, Is This Cayenne Orange 1976 Mercedes 450SL Ripe For The Picking?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

Back in the ‘70s, Mercedes offered some pretty crazy colors on their cars. Today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe 450SL is evidence of that fact. Let’s see if this amazing orange convertible’s price makes it a plum good deal.

I’m going to aver that there’s a lot more to the decision to buy a car or truck than just the asking price. Sure, anything that’s presently running and has a reasonable asking—say around the same cost as a really good flat-screen TV—is more than likely going to get the Obama Nod. However, when you consider other factors—things like competitive choices or long-term costs and usability—the decision can become far more murky.


Let’s take for example yesterday’s 2006 Volvo XC90 Ocean Race Edition. That car came with unexceptional mileage, a reasonably clean appearance, and what the seller purported to be a clean bill of health. All that was to be had at a modest $2,900 asking. And at that, fully 88 percent of you said why not, giving the V8 Volvo a Nice Price win. The question however, is whether or not that cheap seats price was nothing more than a siren’s call, luring a new owner to future disaster. I guess we’ll just have to wait until that potential new owner buys it, drives it for a few months and then can report back to us. We’ll wait.

Most every nation has its colors. A few of those nations—those with significant automotive industries—also have national car colors. It’s not exactly codified in national edicts or anything, but if I were to ask you for some you’d no doubt be able to rattle off all the majors.

Those would be bright red for Italy, silver for Germany, blue for France, and, of course, for Great Britain the eponymous British Racing Green. While all are emblematic, some of those colors are more emotionally engaging than others. While silver is certainly representative of Germany’s traditionally staid and serious national attitude, it’s not likely to get you to swipe right based purely on emotion.


Back in the early ‘70s Mercedes undertook an examination of automotive colors. This wasn’t to overcome the decorous reputation of their nation’s traditional silver auto hue, but to discover which colors were the easiest to see in low-visibility situations. This resulted in the company introducing a number of lighter, and brighter color options for their cars. No, they were not traditional, but even today, they do stand out.

Take for example this Cayenne Orange 1976 Mercedes Benz 450SL. Have you ever seen an R107 that stood out quite so much? It’s so attention getting that should you be planning a bank heist I would suggest pretty much any other vehicle as your getaway car. Also, I want a cut of the take, otherwise I’ll rat you out! Ha, just kidding.


The R107 was on the market from 1971 through 1989 and over the course of that run most were painted some form of neutral tone—silver, beige, white, etc.. This one looks totally different in this bold orange hue, with the effect amplified with the wonderful color-matched wheel covers. Now, I should comment here that I own an S30 Datsun in a similar orange, so I may be biased by association.


You however, should look at the car with a critical eye. After all, we just talked about a holistic approach to this whole value assessment endeavor. Underneath the (assumed to be) factory paint, lies what looks to be a decent 450SL. Both tops come with the car as does a garage hoist for the hardtop. That top only weighs 98 pounds, but really requires two to tango it on and off lest you bang up both top and car. We don’t get to see the softtop in action, since apparently the seller was alone when snapping the ad’s pics.


Under the long hood lies Mercedes’ SOHC 4.5-litre V8. The D-Jetronic fuel-injected engine was rated at 180 horsepower and 220 lb-ft of torque from the factory. That’s enough to move the 3,640 pound two-seater in a dignified if not exactly speedy manner. A three-speed automatic does gearbox duty here.

The car looks to be in excellent shape, with no apparent issue in the paint of underlying bodywork. The interior presents just as well, although the sheepskin seat covers, while period correct and probably very comfy, do look a little dingy. One hopes that the seats below are intact. The dash is free of cracks and hosts a modern stereo head unit, perhaps a singular let down for those seeking a completely immersive ‘70s experience.


The title is clear and the car comes with 165,000 miles on the clock. These are not exceedingly complicated cars, and they also were extremely well built so this one should keep ticking over for years to come.


But then so would pretty much any R107. Mercedes built a lot of these over the years and there are quite a few of them out there from which to chose. Why pick this one? Well, one reason is that amazing orange hue. The other might be its $7,999 price. The R107s are climbing the value tree just like their W113 predecessors, and they may soon be out of reach for many. The question for you is whether or not this one is worth that $7,999 asking, and more importantly, does its color help of hinder its cause?

You decide!


San Diego, CA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to Doug D for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.