Portlandia Outtake: Mercedes 450SLC and Bonus 1973 Ford F250

(first posted 11/9/2017)       I never got to all the cars I shot in Portland a few months back, but this set needs to be released from the digital vault. I’m in the throes of an absurdly long article, so this one is going to be short. I’ve long meant to write up the C107 coupe, but a linger write-up will have to await another day, or year. Meanwhile, let’s savor this rather complementary pair.

I distinctly remember the first time I saw an SLC in the flesh: It was shortly after participating in a Student-Worker Alliance protest march in Washington DC in the spring of 1971. Was I a pinko? Not really; I did it to get a free bus ride from Iowa City to the Baltimore-Washington area and back, so I could get some of my stereo gear, after having split a month or so earlier with only a backpack. Yes, I’ll march for a few hours for a free bus ride on a charter bus. On which I actually laid down on the aisle floor in order to sleep.

I have digressed. Anyway, shortly after the march I was standing on a Georgetown sidewalk, when a 450SLC in the same brown metallic comes gliding by, piloted by an affluent guy with his teenage daughter next to him and a younger boy in the back, out for a Saturday shopping trip or such. So much for the revolution…

I had of course seen pictures of the SLC in magazines, but it was a bit hard to get a sense of its size and proportions. The whole notion of a four passenger fixed-roof coupe version of an SL seemed quite odd to me. And that didn’t change when I saw the real thing go by. It seemed too long and low to work properly. Clearly, the coupe version had to have been an afterthought. It just wasn’t harmonious.

That’s not to say I wasn’t impressed, nevertheless. This is a car that has never induced the slightest pangs of lust in me.

The odd rear quarter window treatment only confirmed my sense that this was something of a hack job. It just wasn’t working for me. Still doesn’t. There had to have been a better solution. Even if that meant the window didn’t go down the whole way. Or? Couldn’t those Mercedes engineers perform magic, or had they lost their touch.

If you can do this, then sure as hell you can figure out something better than the hack job on that SLC.

Why the slats? Mercedes wanted to avoid the solution that Chrysler had to use with its 1961-1962 Valiant and Lancer coupes: an awkward split rear side window, since it too was too big to go down whole. The slats on the Mercedes coupe are just there to make it look like something other than what it really is. A gimmick, in other words.

The front is of course just like every R107: nice. Except for the steering wheel, which needs to be replaced by a Nardi wood rim. That thing is just so big and black and overpowering.

The back seat? For kids only. Like the guy driving that one in Georgetown, with his two kids aboard. That’s who this car was made for. Divorced dads with kids who always wanted an SL.

I’m assuming this clean F250 belongs to the same owner. Something about their condition, never mind their location. It’s not the most obvious pairing of vehicles, but I’ve long stopped trying to guess what folks like in an older car or truck. One for varying purposes; makes sense.  Which would you rather have?