LUDWIG - as purchasedLudwig, our 1972 Mercedes Benz 350SL


Not Ludwig, but similar 

Ludwig  (pronounced LOOD-VIG in German) was "born" in June of 1972 as an Anthracite Gray Metallic 350SL with a red leather interior.  For those new to the world of Mercedes, the '72 350SL was the first year (in the US) of what's referred to as the 107 chassis.  That same basic body style continued for an impressive seventeen years through the '73-80 450SL, the '81-85 380SL, and the '86-89 560SL.


=  AS PURCHASED  =   When we bought this car in October, 2001, it had only 105,000 miles on the odometer (“barely broken in” for a Mercedes).

I knew how to fix the few negatives observed:
 - several pea-sized rust holes in the leftmost trunk floor panel
 - a dented left rear valance panel (looked as if they'd backed over a curb or something)
 - a couple of small, shallow dents in front of the trunk where the hardtop had been cinched down too tightly
 - a very poor color change repaint (see photo below).  

RED interior! On the plus side:
 - the '72 had the lightwight and stylish "Euro style" bumpers
 - the interior and soft top were in excellent condition
 - the air conditioning blew cold
 - the engine didn’t smoke or drip
 - since it was over 30 years old, it could be registered as a "Collector Vehicle" that would require no annual license tabs or smog checks.  

The purchase price was another positive - several thousand dollars less than the five other SL's I'd driven by that time.  It appeared at the time that the significant difference in price was probably as a result of the downright rotten paint. I now think that, to a lesser extent perhaps,  the "smaller sounding" 350SL designation (even though 350SL's and 450SL's both came with the 4.5 liter V8 engine) was also a factor.

=  ADDITIONAL CHALLENGES  =   Things I noticed after bringing Ludwig home that would need attention:
 - The dash "eyeball vent" left of the steering wheel blows heat but the right side one doesn't (the defroster works well, though)
 - The turn signals only stay on when the lever is held in place (left or right) -
 - The clock is dead - A
NOTHER OWNER TOLD ME HOW TO REPAIR IT  (see instructions and pictures if you have the same problem)
 - The passenger door could only be opened from the inside -

Ludwig's dream=  CUSTOMIZATION  =   Beyond fixing the issues above, "The Ludwig Project" (link below) will include several dozen exterior, interior, and drivetrain changes (move your mouse cursor over the Ludwig's dream photo to see how it might look). Obviously, I'm not a stickler for originality!

To date, the paint it had when I bought it (over 1/8" thick in places) has been stripped to the bare metal via epoxy coated wheels made of what looks like kitchen scouring pads, and a coat of PPG's DP primer/sealer has been applied and sanded. We're basically ready to shoot PPG's Omni color coat, but I have several other projects that need to be finished first.

I've also bought new rubber parts and other maintenance items, and have begun saving for the inevitable "surprises" these cars are famous for.

 <>  The Ludwig Project
        - my plan for a German-American "MuskelWagen" (muscle car)
 <>  American V8 Engines in the 107 Chassis
        - several examples that led me to seek another path
 <>  Bigger Mercedes Engines in the 107 Chassis
        - areas of consideration for potential swaps
 <>  350SL Specifications and Factoids
        - excerpts from factory publications

=  EMAIL  =   Comments to will be appreciated. If your only point is to criticize me for modifying a Mercedes, though, save your breath. I bought this car to play with, not to restore. There are still plenty left out there if you want one for your own!

=  MO' GRAPHICS (some with Links)  =

Why Ludwig needed a repaint and how it looks in primer
 Crazing underneath top coat   Bad paint GONE!

My favorite SL books (click on picture to order online from
Road test reprints  Save 30%  Color HistoryService Manual

That other Ludwig  (van Beethoven) wouldn't have been so grumpy if he'd had a SL
...dum, dum, dum, DUM...

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