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This V8-engined, auto-gearboxed Mercedes WRC car is up for auction

The 450 SLC 5.0 is not your usual rally competitor, and that’s exactly why we want this one

Published: 10 Jan 2023

In 1977 Mercedes-Benz announced the 450 SLC 5.0. This was to be a new V8-engined iteration of the big C107 coupe to homologate it for… the World Rally Championship. Hang on, what?

Yep, Merc really did want to race the SLC in the World Rally Championship, automatic gearbox and all. 

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The 450 SLC 5.0 was fitted with an all-aluminium 5.0-litre V8, while the bonnet and boot panels were also made from aluminium to save weight. Just 19 SLCs were built for rallying and just seven of those were badged 450 SLC 5.0, making this one here rather rare indeed. 

At the 1979 Bandama Rally Côte D’Ivoire, Merc took a ridiculously impressive 1-2-3-4 finish, making it the first manufacturer to win in the WRC with a V8 engine and (perhaps unsurprisingly) the first with an automatic gearbox.

Mercedes 450 SLC 5.0 WRC Top Gear

The example you see above didn’t win that race and take those accolades, but it did finish second. Looked brilliantly cool while doing so too, we reckon. Just check out those spotlights. 

This is chassis number 836 that was fitted with a special ‘development engine’, supplementary cooling systems and a radiator that also served as a grille to protect the power steering system. 

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Chassis 836 went on to race at the 1980 Marlboro Safari Rally in Kenya, finishing third at the hands of Vic Preston Jr and John Lyall. It then became a training car before being sold by Merc to a Belgian rallying enthusiast. 

It has since been through a number of owners and has now rocked up for auction at RM Sotheby’s Paris Sale. The estimate? Somewhere between £700,000 and £950,000. Yikes. 

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