Mercedes 450SL 1979 Convertible! Very exciting build for Prescott Hot Rods and the New Client as well. This beautiful car is what’s called the WIFES Car, this car was brought to us by a True Hot Rodder. He has had some nice cars of his own built, but now its the Wife’s turn. This is a trend that seems to be getting more and more popular.
The Mercedes 450SL is in the shop. The German car will come apart differently than the Hot Rods were used to. This is going to be a challenge, but thats why we took it in. Its time to do a good inspection and start taking things apart.
The bodywork will be one of the first things to get started, the lights and emblems will come off first. The chrome trim across the back took some time to remove. Notice anything else missing yet? The side molding was also removed.
The 450SL Mercedes seems like its coming apart pretty fast, well the pictures make it look like it but thats not the case. The front light assemblies are apart but it took a while. There are many hidden bolts that hold this car together.
Looking inside the trunk of the Mercedes you can see the light assemblies, these house the bulbs for easy access to change a rear light if it goes out. There’s more to remove to take out the light lens’s.
The trunk lid is being sanded to see what kind of bodywork is required, the dark red spots are low areas that need to be fixed, anything that has a shade of darker color to it will need to be fixed.
The trim pieces, chrome and rubber parts need to be pulled off. The car is getting a color change, so everything needs to be repainted. These European cars are built very different than an American car. It takes longer to take things apart, everything will need to be marked and stored.
The front of the Mercedes is apart, wow it was a ton of work to get all those parts off. Even the headlight bucket areas and stuff will need to be painted. A low end paint shop would tape everything off and just paint the exterior. Prescott Hot Rods believes in doing the job right, regardless of the budget!
The trim has been removed from the front and back. The tail lights are removed, we just have them sitting in place to keep dirt out of the trunk.
The hood is also being sanded to check the work required. Wow, the hood has a very large crease right in the middle. Most bodyshops would bondo this area and be done….Wrong! the sheet metal is stretched and needs to be shrunk back into place. Then a little filler to finish it off.
A closer look shows how bad the hood is. The under side of the hood has some factory insulation that is pretty much gone. It will need to be scraped off and cleaned up in order to put some heat to this hood.
The scrapping process is dirty and time consuming. It needs to be done in order to fix the hood correctly. Now we can use a torch to heat the metal up and shrink it, then hammer the metal. The process takes time and patients.
The 450 SL hood looks much better, the first shot is the results of heat and hammering. we removed the paint to apply a thin coat of filler. You can see the results after doing the job correctly. It takes time, but its right! an inch of body filler is wrong and will crack eventually.
Time to get serious with the body work on the 450SL Mercedes. For the age of the car it looks pretty good, once we start blocking the sides we can see all the door dings.
The drivers side rear fender had a pretty good dent in it, the rods welded to the fender allow you to slowly pull the steel back into shape. If its done correctly, you almost don’t need any body filler.
The dent is gone and it has been smoothed with a little body filler. The spots you see are called Whiskey Dents, these are said to form because of drunks putting door dings in the side of your car. For the most part, these dings are barely noticeable.
The rocker panel was showing some signs of rust. We needed to remove paint and undercoating to see how serious this rust was. It was heavy surface rust and cleaned up without concern.
The work is getting started on the passenger side. This side looks really good, but I can see more door dings that will need to be fixed. Doing a block sand right away will shows areas that need addressed.
The 450 SL has a few dings in the door, this looks bad, but it really is just more door dings. The metal looked pretty flat, but blocking it out showed us just how straight this side is. There really is no better way to get a car straight.
Bodywork on this car looks a little more serious than it really is. This front fender had some waviness to it, but a small amount of filler gets it straight again. The white showing thru the red paint, is just the sealer used before the red paint was sprayed.
The Mercedes is about ready to have the primer filler applied. The car is put on jack stands to allow us to apply the primer to all the paint areas.
The 450 SL is all tapped off and ready for the primer sealer. The car is getting a color change, so putting a sealer on is important.
The top will be primered and ready for paint later, the body of the car has had most of the bodywork done. Once the primer is applied, we can block sand the car and find any little imperfections that need to be addressed before paint.
Wow, looks very different. The body has 3 very heavy coats of primer sealer so that it can be blocked before paint. The entire car will be gone over a few more times before it will be ready for paint.
Here’s the Interior of the 1979 Mercedes, its getting a color change and a new Black Leather Interior. Its all Original now, we will be creating a new interior in Leather that has a similar look.
The Interior doesn’t look too bad, but its ready for something new. The outside is getting a paint color change, so bright red exterior and black leather interior will look really sharp.
The plan is to start taking the interior out, this is a European car, so they come apart very differently from American made cars. Time and care must be taken, the old interior is very brittle. You can see how the sun visors are worn out and very flimsy.
The Interior is coming apart pretty good, slower than some because there are so many clips and screws. The seats will get taken out when it is brought into the New Prescott Hot Rods Upholstery Department.
The dash will get taken out when the new one arrives, the new materials will get ordered soon. The Leather and other soft goods will get estimated and ordered in the next week, we have chosen Not to get an Interior Kit from a manufacturer. This car needs to be custom and one of a kind when complete.
Ok, time to start pulling the motor out of the 450sl. The Mercedes is now in the new shop, it’s in it’s own spot and ready to have the engine pulled out. While we are draining the fluids we can start to document where everything goes. There are tons of wires, vacuum lines and all sorts of sensors.
The 450sl has lots of things that need to be taken into account before removal. Everyone has their own system that reminds them how things go back together. We still prefer to write out labels that trigger a reminder. This will take a while, there is a lot of stuff to label before we can start to pull things apart.
The Mercedes engine is very different than these old classics. There are bolts holding things in place that are very difficult to get too. It takes more than three times as long to pull an engine from a European car, the old classics are so much easier to work on.
We made this engine removal look pretty easy, trust me, it was a ton of work. The top tranny bolts that connect to the engine took lots of work and some small hands to remove. The factory installed these engines and transmissions together as a unit! From the bottom!
The engine for the 450sl Mercedes is out, Wow…There are tons of vacuum lines, sensors and hidden bolts. This was some serious work to remove this engine. Next up is to strip the Motor down and start the machine work.
Now that the engine is out, its time to degrease and clean up the dirty engine compartment. There is grease and oil all over, this build up is from years of leaks and driving.
Here’s a few more angles of the mess needing cleaned up. The engine compartment and frame need to be painted before the engine goes back in. The red paint is actually getting a much brighter color change.
All cleaned up, the grease and oil is gone. The various remaining components will need to be moved out of the way in order to paint. Lots of work remaining on this car!
The Mercedes needs to have the engine compartment painted, the engine will be back soon and the car has to be ready. The engine compartment has been taped off and is about ready to paint.
While were doing the engine compartment, we might as well paint the door jambs so we can get started on the New Interior while we wait for the engine.
Wow, this New Red sure looks better than the old stuff. The color change will make this car really stand out. Looks like we have our work cut out for us. The million and a half engine parts need to be cleaned up and be ready to re-install.
The paint in the engine compartment and door jambs looks great, the new color change has started. The engine will be re-installed when it gets back from the builder, not taking any chances on scratching the new paint so the outside will be painted after the car is running again.
The interior is up next, the seats are removed for Upholstery. The inside of the car has been stripped down and only a few parts remain. The inside carpet and panels will be done before it goes back for final paint.
There’s not much left in the car, the center console will be pulled apart and rebuilt. New carpet and dash will be installed before the seats are finished. This car is getting a color change on the inside as well, the black leather and vinyl will really set this car off.
The Mercedes interior is getting under way. The Interior hard plastics must be Dyed black to match the new Black Leather Interior. The carpet will all get removed and new pieces of Black plush carpet installed.
The Interior is coming apart, the seats are being taken down to the springs and the old stereo equipment is pulled out. This car still had the old style cell phone, there was all these boxes to make it work. Things have really changed since the 80’s.
The rear storage area is coming along, the side panels are being covered and will receive some speakers to get rid of the speaker boxes laying in the back. The dash and console have been changed to the New Black.
The front windshield was replaced, it was pitted pretty bad and was falling out, the choice was made to just install a new front glass while we were working on the dash. The second picture is the Mercedes trunk area, the carpet has been removed and new Black Carpet installed.
The trunk carpet is pretty much done, the power antenna will be re-mounted once the paint is completed. The rear seating area has some new speakers that are mounted into the panel, the old ones were external boxes that took up room and slid around when you drove.
The amount of little time consuming work just keeps showing up, the picture on the left is the storage tray that goes on the drivers door panel. It was almost broken in half and has to be fixed. Plastic repair is pretty common with the older classics, but it takes time to make it look good. The door panel on the right is being reworked before the New Upholstery can be installed.
The 79 Mercedes has many many parts that need attention to complete the interior. The picture on the right is of the door panel pocket, it needed repaired before it could get covered. The seats in the mean time are getting all stitched up and ready to put onto the buckets seats.
The door panels are finished and ready to be re-installed into the car. The inserts you see are Custom Leather. This material was special ordered for the Mercedes.
The Interior is really coming together. Remember, this was tan when we started. The black Interior will be sharp looking when finished next to the Red Exterior Paint.
Look what finally is all rebuilt! The 480sl Engine has been getting rebuilt for a long time, we have been waiting on finishing the paint until the engine was re-installed into the car.
The first things that need to happen are, of course painting the block black, then start to assemble all the pieces back together. There are so many parts that make up this engine.
The Engine for the Mercedes is very very heavy! The accessories that get bolted back on before it is installed seem endless. This is old 70’s technology, but it still has fuel injection. This is definately the way to go at altitude like Prescott.
The install looks pretty simple in these shots, this took days to assemble and get to this point. There are so many wires, lines and vacuum lines to hook back up. One little mistake and this engine won’t run at all.
The integrity of the wiring harness is questionable, the wires are very brittle and needs replaced in areas…One problem. you can’t just go buy new wires for a European car like this. We will have to replace wires one at a time to repair the bad parts.
The harness is pretty brittle. The tape you see in the second photo, labels from vacuum lines, injector plugs and various wiring. This project is not like most Hot Rod builds. European cars have about 5 times the wiring to get it to work.
Here’s a couple shots of the rocker panel rubber replacement. The old ones were brittle and the wrong color. There’s a lot of little details that go into refurbishing a car, how far to go and where to spend the budget is always the difficult part.
The exhaust has some holes from bottoming out while driving. We could replace the exhaust, but the cost is not in the budget. The exhaust system looks pretty good, so we decided to weld in some skid plates and close up the holes. This car needs to run in order to get finished painting!
The 79 Mercedes still has plenty of details that need to get done. The sun visors are pretty much trash, new ones are pretty expensive. We want the visors to match the interior, so we decided to make them from scratch.
The wire rim from the visor is all we have to work with. There is a trade secret on just how to make a good sun visor from scratch, so the shot on the left is the finished product.
The arm rest for the Mercedes has seen better days. The internal parts are just shattered in pieces, this is pretty much beyond fixing. We will have to start searching for a replacement, this may be tough.
We located a new arm rest for the Mercedes, this one is in good shape. We found someone parting it out on e-bay, so we got pretty lucky no having to buy the whole seat.
The head rests are in good shape but still need to come apart and be redone. The pattern looks good, so we will stay with this style and cover them to match the seats.
The Mercedes 450sl is alive! the engine has been run in and has so much more power. The project stopped moving forward until the New engine was running and we could put the hood back on. The cylinder heads need to be re-tightened before the hood can be installed, but this should be back in the paint shop soon!
The 79 Mercedes is back in the body shop, we had it almost ready for paint before the engine rebuild. During the process of the engine build, there was some elbow dents put in the fender tops!! This is exactly why we don’t pain the car until all the mechanic work is done.
The top of the fenders had to be redone, they need to be flat and straight before the paint goes on, so we had to re-work the fenders and re-primer before it’s ready for paint. The primer is cured, and now the car is being wet sanded before it gets pushed into the spray booth.
The Mercedes is ready for paint, one final once over and we can begin tapping off the car to be painted.
The Car is ready, now we can start tapping of the car and get it painted very soon! The spray booth was cleaned out along with the entire shop, we need the area clean so we don’t bring any thing into the booth that would contaminate the paint job.
The Mercedes is in the booth and getting tapped off for paint. The outside is finally ready to get the New Bright Red Paint. The project is moving forward and looking great.
The 79 Mercedes 450sl is being sprayed first with a coat of sealer. This will lock in all the work that has been done this far. We can start to paint the Red right after this is dry.
Here’s a look at the Mercedes after the red paint is applied. The Original color was closer to a burnt red, this bright red will be a much more modern day look.
The 79 450sl is out of the booth and had so time to cure. Believe it or not, we have a Mercedes 350sl in for service work right next to our project. These cars will look very similar when completed.
The red on this 350sl is a little different color, but they look pretty close. The second photo is the fresh paint being broke open so it will cure. Once we color sand the entire car it will go into the buffing and polish phase.
This is the procedure that takes time. The paint is already very bright, smooth and looks great, but we want the finish to be closer to show quality. All paint jobs have what’s called Orange Peel, this process removes some of the Orange Peel and gives the car a very smooth finish.
The convertible top storage cover needs to be finished. The metal frame in the right picture needs to have foam covering it so its padded and the Upholstered.
The metal frame is padded, the New Vinyl cover is ready to cover the frame.
The New Vinyl piece is made and ready to be Upholstered onto the paint cover. The vinyl is mounted to the cover and then trimmed out or glued over the hard cover.
The vinyl gets pulled around the edges of the hard cover and glued to the backside. The image on the right is the finished piece, we will re-install the chrome trim and it will be all ready to put back on the car.
The Original Hardtop is one of the last pieces to get Upholstery. The trim pieces will get died black like the interior of the car, The headliner will get redone in a factory black perforated vinyl and look like Original when complete. We will go threw the process of re-doing all the pieces that are required to complete this.
The trim pieces have to be removed before you can get to the actual headliner. The headliner is strung with rods just like most old cars.
The headliner and trim pieces have been removed, while removing the hold down brackets, a bolt decided to break off, these are the little things that make a job take longer than it should.
The New Headliner has been drawn out, stitched up and ready to fit. It has bows in the center just like all the old original headliners.
Once in place, the headliner is glued to the sides and the wrinkles are slowly worked out. Headliners take patients, old school ones take work.
I’m sure we made that look pretty easy, the headliner is all glued in place and not a wrinkle in sight. The trim and seals are the last part. finding the screw holes behind the new headliner is the tricky part.
All the chrome is back on, we still have the pieces we dyed black that are assembled in the picture on the right. You can also see the seals are all glued into place as well. The hard top is ready to go to the paint shop.
The Mercedes itself is coming along well, the paint is all done, buffed out and looks Amazing! The color is very nice. We started to assemble some of the pieces, but still have more to do. Its been a long project, but these results are worth all the effort!
The progress seems to be a little slow on the Mercedes, but the car is coming out Awesome! The paint looks great! The top is being painted and is the last piece to get painted.
The color has been applied, and the last part is the clear coat. The shine on the top is perfect! this car is gonna turn some heads.
The soft top is in pretty good shape, the years of storage has taken a toll on the rubber seals, we will have to remove all the rubber seals of the soft top, hard top, doors, trunk, hood and pretty much and seal we find and replace them. If your going to go this far, you got to replace the seals as well.
The storage seal is even torn up a bit. When you lift the soft top out to put it up, it has been rubbing on the seal and destroyed it. This is a difficult seal to replace.
We found a factory seal kit that contains almost every seal we need. The picture on the right shows a few of the seals replaced and looking new. This classic is getting very close to being done!
The factory seal that the lid closes against has to be glued in and held in place while it dries, once its all dry we can close the soft top storage area and be done with those seals. The seals for the Hard Top were done during the upholstery phase. Now we can install the hard top and buff the paint. This car looks Brand New!! You’re gonna love it!!