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1979 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC 5.0 'Rallyewagen'

RM Sotheby's

1979 Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC 5.0 'Rallyewagen'
RM Sotheby's
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SH ID

24-0401023

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FEATURED BY SPEEDHOLICS

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In Stock

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Monaco

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Dealer

Ex-Mercedes-Benz Works rally car; one of seven built

 

The car that earned Swedish rally ace Björn Waldegård the 1979 World Rally Championship for Drivers’ title

 

Podium finishes at the 1979 Rallye Bandama Côte D’Ivoire and 1980 Marlboro Safari Rally; boasts more podium finishes than any other 450 SLC 5.0 built

 

Competed in the 1982 and 1983 24 Hours of Spa, finishing 9th overall in the former

 

Highly eligible for historic rallying and endurance racing events

 

Retained by the consigning owner, a renowned collector, for more than three decades

 

Featured in the April 2024 edition of Tazio Magazine

Description

Mercedes-Benz surprised the rally world in 1977 with the announcement of the 450 SLC. Built to homologate the 450 SL for the 1978 World Rally Championship, the car was powered by a new all-aluminium 5.0-litre V-8. The special body featured weight-saving alloy bonnet and boot panels, with the rally car developed by the renowned engineer, Dr Erich Waxenberger. The doors remained steel, but it was thinner than that used on the production cars. Mercedes-Benz built 19 examples exclusively for use in international rallying, with only seven badged as a 450 SLC 5.0, each equipped with a specially developed automatic transmission. Completed on 26 September 1979, chassis 836 was registered with the license plate “S-DV 9032”. It was fitted with a special development all-aluminium V-8 engine (40 kilograms lighter than the iron variant), supplementary cooling systems for oil and coolant, and a clever radiator that served as a grille to protect the power steering system from debris. The car made its competition debut at the 1979 Bandama Rally Côte D’Ivoire as part of a four-car Works entry. Numbered 4, the 450 SLC 5.0 was driven by rally ace Björn Waldegård and Hans Thorszelius, who battled throughout the five-day event to place 2nd in a historic Mercedes-Benz 1-2-3-4 finish. The manufacturer became the first to win a WRC rally with V-8 power, and the first to do so with an automatic transmission. Despite finishing 2nd behind Hannau Mikkola, Waldegård beat him by a single point to become the 1979 World Rally Drivers’ Champion—the only time he would achieve such a feat. The car’s next outing was the 1980 Marlboro Safari Rally in Kenya. Piloted by Vic Preston Jr and John Lyall, a storming performance had the pair finish 3rd in the jungle. The Rallyewagen served as a training car in Argentina later that year. In 1982, this 450 SLC 5.0 was sold by Mercedes-Benz to the Belgian race team owner Serge Beankens—commonly known as Serge Power. Under the “Power” team, chassis 836 was modified to race at the 1982 24 Hours of Spa. The aluminium engine block was replaced with a more reliable steel variant, a twin-filler, 120-litre fuel tank was fitted, but the three-speed automatic gearbox remained. Sponsored by telecoms company Alcatel and Tuborg beer, the car wore race number 22 and a combination of Claude Bourgoignie, John Cooper, and Alain Lierneux achieved 9th overall and 8th in class at the Belgian race. One year on, chassis 836 was fielded by Michel de Deyne’s race team in the 1983 24 Hours of Spa. Piloted by de Deyne, Marc Duez, and Hervé Regout, the car sported red and white livery sponsored by Cutty Sark Scotch Whiskey and wore the race number 12. Running as high as 4th place, unfortunately, rear axle trouble forced a retirement in the 22nd hour, but this Mercedes-Benz 450 SLC 5.0 went on to compete in some rounds of the 1983 European Touring Car Championship, notably at Zolder, where it finished 12th overall. Serge Power sold chassis 836 in 1984—having reinstated the aluminium V-8 engine—to Dr Peter Lorenz in Koblenz, who restored the car and returned it to the period-correct 1979 Bandama Rally livery. By 1990 it was co-owned by two private individuals who sold it to the consigning private collector in the February of that year. A copy of a German title on file notes that Mercedes-Benz Stuttgart first registered the car on 26 September 1979. Furthermore, this 450 SLC 5.0 is accompanied by a Mercedes-Benz-headed letter, dated October 1986, that verifies its period race results. The history of chassis 836 has been well recorded in many books devoted to the Mercedes-Benz brand, and the car was prominently featured in the April 2024 edition of Tazio Magazine. With two podium finishes to its name, a Rally Drivers’ Championship title, as well both international rallying and endurance racing in its repertoire, this 450 SLC 5.0 presents what is an unrepeatable opportunity to acquire an ex-Mercedes-Benz Works rally car from excellent provenance. It would make a fine addition to any collection of serious competition cars—and a tempting proposition for those wanting to compete in historic rallying or historic endurance racing events.
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