1JZ-Powered 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL

When someone says “engine swap” on an old car, my mind automatically goes to a big V8 swap in an American muscle car. It certainly doesn’t go to today’s car.

What we have is a 1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SL with a Toyota 1JZ-GTE turbocharged inline-six. Talk about an odd couple. The R107 is so far from the tuner-culture 1JZ that I’m really struggling to see who this appeals to. Toyota fans who want something classy? Or R107 fans who want easy power? Either way, I am extremely impressed with this build. Something I don’t say often.

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1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC Euro-Spec

The SLC is really one of those cars that most of the time I ignore, but occasionally a really neat one pops up and grabs my attention. Sometimes that’s a cool 5.0 WRC homologation model, but I also like the base cars in European specification:

1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC Euro-Spec

Today we have another of these Euro models to consider, though this one decidedly looks more a child of the early 70s than the previous few I’ve looked at:

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1980 Mercedes-Benz 300TD

The desire for the W123 Mercedes-Benz 300TD never really seems to wean. I honestly think a lot of the desire comes from the car looking so good on paper, and then diving in and hoping for the best. Yes, it is tremendously reliable and sturdy in a world of cars built just to outlive the warranty period, but they are not without many sacrifices. They have just enough power not to be a nuisance on the highway, luxury comforts are almost zero, and safety versus any object bigger than it deploys the “hope and pray” strategy rather than airbags. Still, if you are looking for a stylish cruiser that can haul some stuff a day or two a week, it is tough to argue. However, these cars are getting old – very old. The newest example from 1985 is now old enough to run for president and the earliest 1979s models are ready to go to their kid’s college graduations. That doesn’t seem to bother paying truly crazy prices for them however.

Today, we have a non-turbo 1980 up for sale in Florida in the classic shade of English Red. Yes, it sure looks pretty and would look great in a world of earth tone swarming the land, but I’m maybe not so high on this example. Let me explain why.

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1980 Mercedes-Benz 450SEL

In my modest collection, my oldest car is 1980 Mercedes-Benz S-Class. I don’t drive it much at all, a few hundred miles a year at most, but I can’t seem to let it go. Just this past Sunday I gave it a really deep wash and applied a coat of wax on it for the upcoming winter, and then thought there is no way I am selling this car after I was all done with it. It is literally the definition of “They don’t make them like they used to” in terms of Mercedes-Benz products. The car will be 40 years old soon, but it still drives and functions like a 4 year-old car despite over 225,000 miles on it. The flaws of the chassis are few, with the biggest one being a climate system they outsourced from Chrysler, of all brands, which turned out to be total garbage. Imagine that!

Today’s car, 1980 405SEL up for sale in California, seems to have a bit of an identity crisis. At first I thought it was a Euro car as it has the Euro headlights, bumpers, and plate holders, but peeking inside I’m seeing a speedometer in MPH and the aforementioned garbage automatic climate control. What is going on here?

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1980 Porsche 924 Turbo

Back in October I took a look at a very nice 931 over in Europe for sale; one of the best examples I’ve seen on the market recently:

1979 Porsche 924 Turbo

931s are broken into two periods – Series 1 (launch in ’79 -late ’80) and Series 2 (’81-’82). Series 2 cars all had the 5-lug, 4-wheel disc upgrade that only some of the Series 1 were equipped with. Additionally, they had a revised ignition system, improved intake, higher compression pistons but a smaller turbocharger, and the transaxle was shared with the B2 Audi inline-5s. Today’s example is loaded like most and comes from the end of the first series, so it has power windows, locks, mirrors, air conditioning, rear wiper and sunroof. It also has the M471 package, which added Koni shocks, 5-bolt forged 16″ wheels, 928 calipers with 911SC vented discs, larger swap bars, a quicker steering rack, and a small-diameter four-spoke leather covered steering wheel. Outside of the wheels, these changes were mostly invisible to the eye, and generally speaking don’t make a difference in the value of the vehicle. What does is condition, and when you’re looking at a 924 Turbo you want to buy the best one that you can afford. Is this the one?

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1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC Euro-Spec

I’m certainly not a huge fan of the R107, and when it comes to beautiful and classic Mercedes-Benz models, it’s hardtop sibling – the C107 – probably isn’t on the top of anyone’s list. But it is an interesting car, and it has some unique history – including competing in the World Rally Championship before Audi redefined the category:

The Big, Bad, Automatic Benz That Took on the WRC – the C107

These C107s occupy an interesting spot in the marketplace; generally ignored, they offer a lot of classic Benz attributes without breaking the bank. And recently one popped up on Bring a Trailer with some neat modifications that really had me intrigued. So when a similar European-specification 280SLC popped up, I thought it was worth a look.

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1980 Volkswagen Jrgens AutoVilla

Last week I looked at the oddball LT28 Westfalia Sven Hedin camper. While it was affordable relative to some crazy VW Camper pricing, at the end of the day it wasn’t a really great example. Somewhat surprisingly, another Sven Hedin popped high-topped up immediately after I wrote up the post. Our reader Daniel spotted it, and not only was it cheaper than the one I featured, it was in much better condition. But it’s not the only offbeat VW Van to appear at that time.

I also noticed what seems to look like a more traditional American-style mini-camper, and I was curious. What it is is a T3 conversion by Jrgens in South Africa. Called the “Mighty Mini Motorised Home” in period literature, starting in the 1970s the company basically strapped what looked like a tow-behind caravan onto the chassis and cab of a T2. Although I couldn’t find much information outside of the brochure, there are a few fan groups devoted to the T2 model. According to that site, Jrgens began production in 1973 and when the T2 was phased out, production moved to the T3. The new T3 chassis offered more space in the back, so the AutoVilla grew to accommodate a double bed over the cab and a bathroom. All this space meant weight, and the already underpowered 2.0 inline-4 apparently struggled to meet the company’s definition of “motorised”, never mind “mighty”. But these South African campers inspired Wilhelm Karmann (yes, THAT Karmann), who liscenced the design and began building the equally ungainly Volkswagen Karmann Gipsy. Karmann even built a few syncro models of the Gipsy. Needless to say, neither the Karmann Gipsy nor the original Jrgens AutoVilla made it to the U.S., but there’s one for sale now in North Carolina:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Volkswagen Jrgens AutoVilla on eBay

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1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC

The US-spec C107 Mercedes-Benz SLC probably isn’t going to win any beauty contests. Mercedes had their hands tied with bumper and headlight regulations and probably knew people were going to buy their cars regardless, so they put a band aid on it and that is what we live with. In countries who didn’t have to live with antiquated regulations, things were much better. Slim chrome bumpers and flat headlights plus some engine and transmission choices that made everything just a little bit more exciting. Luck would have it, this is what we have today.

This is a 1980 280SLC that was sold new in Germany and imported to California some time ago. It has the M110 2.8 liter inline-6 paired with a 4-speed manual gearbox, a combo that is rare to say the least. This seems like a far cry from the lumpy V8 and sluggish automatic that was offered to the US buyers when new. Is this a Porsche 911 or E30 BMW M3? Of course not. It’s a car that wasn’t very attractive nor fun to drive and is now slight less of that. Right?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Mercedes-Benz 280SLC on eBay

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Faded Glory: Autotech Supercharged 2.0 1980 Volkswagen Scirocco

Tuner cars – especially those from the 1980s – seem to have lived a hard life. Like Rutger Hauer’s Roy Batty, they were stars that burned ever-so-bright in the limelight of the Reagan era. Tyrell said to Batty, “You were made as well as we could make you”. “But not to last”, quipped Batty – a seemingly appropriate exchange when considering these cars. Few have survived unscathed, but with a renewed appreciation for period-correct pieces from the 80s cars like today’s example have a second lease on life.

So what do we have? Well, it’s the penultimate year of the first generation Scirocco. Along the way this genius of Giugiaro received a heart transplant to a 2.0, and then a AutoTech supercharger for good measure. But that’s just the headline grabbers of a lot of neat additions to this faded front-driver:

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1980 Porsche 924

Update 10/23/19: This cool 924 sold for a surprising $8,100.
Update 12/4/19: This car has been listed again for sale at $14,900 by the new dealer.

Early Porsche 924 models are one of the most interesting paradoxes in the Stuttgart world. They were the entry model into the fabled badge and, as a result, generally disregarded by those who love the classic 911. For front-engine cars, the mighty V8 grand tourer 928 thoroughly outshines what was admittedly originally intended to be the car for Volkswagen that became the Scirocco. The engine in the early models is an Audi 2.0 8V inline-4 found in the 100 and rated at 110 horsepower – hardly a headline grabber.

But then there’s the other side of the 924; many were owned by enthusiasts who likely didn’t have deep enough pockets for the more illustrious models. Though they were short on money they lacked nothing in passion, and today it’s still possible to find very clean examples of the early 924 for sale. And because Porsche tried hard to offer many special incentives to jump into Porsche ownership, there are a plethora of early special editions to choose from. But those were almost entirely appearance packages; smart money looks for the later upgraded examples as Porsche threw the parts catalog at the 924 on its way out:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1980 Porsche 924 on eBay

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