Encouraged by the success of the 450 SLC in the 1978 South American Rally, Mercedes-Benz updated the base model to suit future racing. A minimum number of road cars needed to be made for homologation purpose that reflected any updates. The most important of these is the all aluminum 5-liter engine developed for the rally cars.
Capable of 240 bhp, the new engine had considerably more power and also reduced the weight of the already heavy 450 coupe. Futhermore Mercedes-Benz fitted lightweight aluminum panels such hood and trunk. The cars retained the standard 3-speed automatic transmission with a torque converter.1
Racing versions of the 450 SLC-5.0 were eligible as a Group 4 rally car and were stripped out and entered in events like the African Safari Rally, and Ivory Coast Rally. By 1980, the model was replaced by the 4,975cc, Group 2, 500 SLC.
In total only 1,470 cars had the 5.0 engine compared to 31,739 standard cast iron cars. A correct 450 SLC-5.0 will have a VIN that starts with 107026, it won’t have a chrome strip underneath the Mercedes badge on the trunk.
Sources and Further Reading.
1.Greg. ‘The 5-litre SLC Rally Cars’. Das Rundschreiben. June/July 2005.