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niva441

Original Poster:

1,373 posts

111 months

[news] 
Friday 15th January 2010 quote quote all
Hi all

As per the title, I'm thinking of buying an R129. I've had a search round for buyers guides but I've not managed to find anything detailed (except the German site and I'm afraid my German isn't that good). However from what I understand the key issues to check are the operation of the electric hood and condition of the wiring loom on early cars.

Is there anything else I should be looking for. One thing that I am concerned about is whether the quality of the vehicles (particularly the paintwork) deteriorated about the time of the final facelift. One other question I have is, for the final facelift the wheel size increased from 16" to 17", did this effect the ride significantly?

Thank in advance for your thoughts.

Todd


Edited by niva441 on Friday 15th January 12:24

XB70

1,780 posts

76 months

[news] 
Friday 15th January 2010 quote quote all
niva441 said:
Hi all

As per the title, I'm thinking of buying an R129. I've had a search round for buyers guides but I've not managed to find anything detailed (except the German site and I'm afraid my German isn't that good). However from what I understand the key issues to check are the operation of the electric hood and condition of the wiring loom on early cars.

Is there anything else I should be looking for. One thing that I am concerned about is whether the quality of the vehicles (particularly the paintwork) deteriorated about the time of the final facelift. One other question I have is, for the final facelift the wheel size increased from 16" to 17", did this effect the ride significantly?

Thank in advance for your thoughts.

Todd


Edited by niva441 on Friday 15th January 12:24
There are a heap of FAQ's on here with the R129 (search for "R129" and they will come up).

I have a late model (1999) SL500 so drop me a line if you have any specific q's

XB70

1,780 posts

76 months

[news] 
Friday 15th January 2010 quote quote all
Just literally picked up the current issue of Mercedes Enthusiast over lunch with....buyers guide to the R129.

r129sl

3,420 posts

83 months

[news] 
Friday 15th January 2010 quote quote all
There are no R129- or model year-specific concerns. These cars were all very well built with no deterioration between 1989 and 2001. If anything, the later cars were better because higher quality materials were used inside (post 06/1998 cars were trimmed with very high quality nappa leather) and spec levels were almost complete.

Paintwork certainly is not an issue. My 1999 has suffered extremely minor surface corrosion (fixed under warranty last year) but I put that down to its age, mileage (190k) and the fact that I live 200yards from the sea. I am certainly not aware of any problems like those which have afflicted the SLK, the w210 E-Class, w220 S-Class or w215 CL-Class.

All engines are fundamentally bullet proof, especially the m119 and m113 V8s. The m104 straight six will generally suffer head gasket failure at about 100k miles and early cars will see their wiring looms degrade. Most cars will have had the wiring loom done by now: if it is going to happen, it will have happened and been fixed. The head gasket failure is not the end of the world. The m120 V12 is a wonderful engine: it has a bad reputation because it is expensive to fix if it goes wrong but a well-maintained one is highly unlikely to go wrong.

Check the condition and operation of the roadster top (the soft top) and the hard top. The plastic windows in the roadster top will crack in time. A lot of replacement tops are not up to the mark, quality-wise. Check the hardtop for storage damage and (if possible) the operation of the heated rear window.

Otherwise, just make sure everything works, identify any trim damage and look for accident repairs.

If the car has ADS or ADS II (adaptive damping system, optional on all but the SL600 and very rarely specified because it cost £4k), make sure it works as it can be expensive to fix. The ride should be like a magic carpet.

Good cars are original: that means no silly after market alloy wheels, orange indicators and two-tone bodywork on pre-1995 cars, no silly exhaust pipes, Becker or Mercedes-branded stereo system, no holes in the dashboard from mobile phone holders, the usual stuff. Another good give away is the tyre choice of the owner: these cars should be on branded tyres, ideally either Michelin or Continental (these are the only summer tyres homologated for the car) or if winter tyres, Dunlop (again, the only winter tyre homologated for the car).

The 06/98 increase in wheel size from 16" to 17" was necessary to clear the upgraded brakes fitted thence forward. At the time, the R129 had the best brakes fitted to any production car in the world (according to Autocar and measured in relation to stopping time and distance from 60mph--2.0seconds). The ride is very smooth, much smoother than most current saloon cars. I have not driven a 16" wheeled R129, so cannot say whether there is a major difference, but I rather doubt it.

niva441

Original Poster:

1,373 posts

111 months

[news] 
Friday 15th January 2010 quote quote all
XB70 said:
Just literally picked up the current issue of Mercedes Enthusiast over lunch with....buyers guide to the R129.
Thanks, I must get down to the newsagent then.

Thanks also R129SL for information and especially for allaying my concerns about the paint finish on later cars. At least upgrading the brakes is a sensible reason to increase rim size rather than just fashion.

I was thinking initially about a 300, but am now moving towards a 320. As it seems like these cars may have managed to miss out on the Mercedes quality issues, I'll be looking for a late model with reasonable mileage.
Advertisement

chris390

137 posts

99 months

[news] 
Friday 15th January 2010 quote quote all
http://www.brianclifton.com/mb/cars/r129/

http://mbworld.org/forums/sl-class-r129-18/

http://www.detali.ru/cat/oem_mb0.asp?TP=1

http://www.mbclub.co.uk/index.php

i use a 96 sl320 as a daily drive for the last 6 months, 67000 miles £7200 only fault when bought was air con (not fixed yet)and it hasn't missed a beat. V8 might have more grunt but the strieght 6 seems well suited to the daily commute.

niva441

Original Poster:

1,373 posts

111 months

[news] 
Friday 15th January 2010 quote quote all
Thanks Chris

I'd found the MBClub and Brian Clifton, but not the others, they're now on my bookmarks.

TimboL

115 posts

88 months

[news] 
Friday 15th January 2010 quote quote all
niva441 said:
... I'm thinking of buying an R129 ...
I've had a 1999 R129 SL500 (that I believe is a 'final edition' one, when the wing mirrors became oval instead of rectangular) from new. I paid for it the week before MB complied with the EU's order to lower its UK prices to match its mainland Europe ones, and I was the none too happy recipient of a letter from the makers telling me the car would be been a load cheaper if I bought it this week instead of last. But I've kept the car because I like it so much.

I had an SL320 for a year or so before that. They drive like completely different cars; the 500 being much better, I think. I had the standard aluminium roof on the 320, but the glass 'panorama' roof on the 500 is much nicer, although a lot heavier to lift off. The 320 had standard dampers and rolled like a kicked over bucket. The 500 has ADS and is an altogether much better drive, especially in the firmer setting. I hear the air cell accumulators used in the ADS damping are a bit pricey to replace when the flexible membrane inside them wears out, but that has not happened to me yet. To my mind, the 'delete rear seats' luggage platform and storage boxes option is a lot more use than the tiddly little rear seats, and you can fit two cat baskets on the platform.

The bonnet and radiator grille pick up stone chips like no other car I have ever had. On the 500, there is significant corrosion under the paint at the very back of the hard top on both sides, right where it meets the car body. Ostensibly the car comes with some lengthy warranty against corrosion, but MB have repeatedly refused to do anything about the rusting roof. The rims have also corroded quite badly from beneath the coating, predominantly from the centres outwards.

[In my experience of owning several MB cars, most of which have developed some serious fault or other (complete gearbox failure, etc, etc), the whole of the company's alleged customer relations department in Maastricht exists soley to come up with implausible reasons for wriggling out of their warranty obligations. MB are simply the most God-awful company to deal with when something serious goes wrong that is outside of the envelope of their expectations or experience.]

The soft-top roof mechanism went wrong on the 320: it refused to close one day when it started to rain. Despite more visits to the workshop than I could count, they never managed to get it to work reliably ever again. I get the impression that if any change is ever made to the factory set-up for the roof mechanism, it will never work properly again. On one occasion the dealer fitted a replacement for a wing-mirror that the local dust-cart had clobbered. Amusingly, the adjustment control for the new mirror worked exactly in reverse and, shortly after that, a £2K+ controller thingy under the carpet in passenger foot-well failed and had to be replaced (happily, under warranty at the time).

On the 500, the electric seat mechanisms seem to have a mind all of their own: what positions you can or cannot adjust the seats into seems to vary wildly from day to day. The adjustable lumbar support option is not as good as it was on a 190E-2.6 that I had in 1981. The bonnet catch on one side is reluctant to latch properly, and frequently pops open at speed; despite dismantling and reassembling it any number of times, and the application of industrial quantities of WD-40.

Parts do seem to be quite expensive. On the 500, I have had one of the accelerometers that's a part of the ADS system fail. That was, I think, about a £70 part. However, I've recently had a Xenon headlight fail and fuse itself into the striker which ultimately also had to be replaced, amounting to a total bill of £1,000+ to replace a blown light bulb! One of the headlight wiper motors has seized, and that part is apparently about £700. The a/c fan motor for the dashboard vents failed, but I can't remember what that cost to have replaced. The air-conditioning also has some apparently undiagnosable leak, and loses all pressure about a week after a regas.

Apart from that, the car's quite lovely and, in spite of all the above, I don't for the time being intend to part with it. It's entirely happy mooching around town, and on the regular 175 miles motorway cruise between homes. It is, however, definitely a tourer and not a sports car.

Get the clever little OEM MB trolley for the roof, rather than the large rectangular tube third-party ones that tip over and then rust away in a few months. MB used to sell a truly magnificent crane contraption for winching the roof off and storing it up above the car, but I doubt whether those are to be had any more.

HTH.

r129sl

3,420 posts

83 months

[news] 
Saturday 16th January 2010 quote quote all
TimboL,

It sounds like your problems have been with the dealer as much as the car! I forgot to mention the xenon headlamps: I have replaced two (both times the offside) at a cost of £700 each. Likewise the offside headlamp wiper motor, that failed and cost £200. My hardtop had corrosion in the same place as yours but it never got any worse and MB fixed it under warranty last year. I have noticed that on a lot of cars. I would expect your aircon leak to be at the condensor.

The pano top is, indeed, very heavy. My wife always grumbled about helping with it. The crane contraption is fantastic: see picture below. However, the last one was sold about a year ago. It cost 850Euros or something like that. I have seen two on Ebay over the last five years and I bought one of them for £300. Best thing I ever bought for the car.


niva441

Original Poster:

1,373 posts

111 months

[news] 
Saturday 16th January 2010 quote quote all
Yes I been similarly unimpressed with the customer services department. They actually wound me up more, though their combination of inactivity and probably deliberate misinformation. So much that I was considering replacing my old W202 C250 estate earlier in the year and much as the W204 would have been an ideal replacement (cost aside). The attitude of customer services made me make deliberate efforts to look elsewhere.

A panoramic roof appeals as it makes the sport coupe very light and airy. Fortunately the garage the car will be stored in (once the MGB is back on its wheels) has exposed beams, so it should be possible to hoist the roof simply into the roof space.

r129sl

3,420 posts

83 months

[news] 
Saturday 16th January 2010 quote quote all
I think the MB hoist is still available. It is designed for exactly your situation. If not, there are plenty of third party products.

derin100

2,565 posts

123 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th January 2010 quote quote all
Reading some of that (especially Timbol's experience) has suddenly got me very scared!

For example, the Xenon headlamp thing? Those replacement costs makes my gripe about the £132 I had to pay for a bulb replacement (not covered under Tier 1 warranty!) at my MB Dealership on my C55 Estate seem unfounded!

I don't recall seeing an R129 come up for sale recently still under warranty (?). I wouldn't be buying one as a daily driver so I couldn't justify renewing a MB warranty on an annual basis but it would be good to find one with that in place initially to know that any problems/niggles had been attended to or could be in the initial early stages of ownership.

This looks very nice but it's an awful lot of money for an R129 these days?

http://www.pistonheads.com/sales/1304610.htm

r129sl

3,420 posts

83 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th January 2010 quote quote all
derin100 said:
This looks very nice but it's an awful lot of money for an R129 these days?

http://www.pistonheads.com/sales/1304610.htm
Devonshire Motor Co specialise in selling very low mileage cars at top money. I seem to remember they were offering a 928 S4 with similar miles for £20k. Frankly their SL is too much by £3-5k. Lily and constable in Kent were offering a far better 30k miles 2000 model SL600 in black on black for £18k recently but I see it's gone: amazingly they took the car from another Kent dealer where it was offered at £13k. Why didn't I buy it? Anyway, I think there are good cars out there at much better prices than the example you have found.

These can be expensive cars. Over 7 years and 150,000miles my SL500 has cost me about £32,000 in repairs and maintenance and tyres (including about £6k on bodywork). I added this up the other day. I adopt an aircraft approach to maintenace, however. Mechanically and cosmetically it is pretty close to new condition, despite the 190,000 on the odometer.

derin100

2,565 posts

123 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th January 2010 quote quote all
This was £6995 the other day (having started nearly two years ago at £11995)...and so was his other one that he has for sale!

http://www.pistonheads.com/sales/806250.htm

Why does he think putting them UP by £3K again will suddenly make them sell when they haven't in almost the last 2 years?!

If I'd cleared the decks here a little I was going to contact him to view the grey one. Now I don't think I'll bother.

r129sl

3,420 posts

83 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th January 2010 quote quote all
Too much at 6995! That's an odd car. Registered in 1995 but not serviced for the first time until Oct 98 when it had only 600miles up. Not a great start in life. Poverty spec (especially no heated seats), dodgy after market radio and is the steering wheel right? The interior looks tired (look at picture 6, scuffs on the roll bar leather, filthy rear seats, milky rear screens) and I see the offside air intake is held on with duck tape. Something not right.

derin100

2,565 posts

123 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th January 2010 quote quote all
r129sl said:
Too much at 6995! That's an odd car. Registered in 1995 but not serviced for the first time until Oct 98 when it had only 600miles up. Not a great start in life. Poverty spec (especially no heated seats), dodgy after market radio and is the steering wheel right? The interior looks tired (look at picture 6, scuffs on the roll bar leather, filthy rear seats, milky rear screens) and I see the offside air intake is held on with duck tape. Something not right.
Yep! Noted and agreed on every single one of those points! All the same points I had noted looking at those photos. I mean...did the previous owner wear sand-paper gloves whenever he drove it? And 'selling' a car as a supposed 'specialist' in desirable cars...held together with duck tape? For God-sake!?

And then to put the price UP by £3K?! When no one was interested for ages at £3K less?

It can languish there for another few years at (even) £3000 flat as I'm concerned. Simply no longer interested and I doubt anyone else will be.

And frankly, at nearly £30,000...hideous beyond description...LOL! :

http://www.pistonheads.com/sales/1297189.htm



Edited by derin100 on Sunday 17th January 22:58


Edited by derin100 on Sunday 17th January 23:00

XB70

1,780 posts

76 months

[news] 
Sunday 17th January 2010 quote quote all
That SL60 had been advertised on here a while back, at around £12,000 or so, by the previous owners.

niva441

Original Poster:

1,373 posts

111 months

[news] 
Sunday 7th February 2010 quote quote all
Well I've taken the plunge and bought one. Not quite the first one I saw, it was the second.

Simon Light in Ware had one of the last facelift 320s to exactly the spec I was looking for, Panoramic roof, light interior and Xenons. It's not low mileage at 76,000, but I prefer cars that have actually been used rather than stored all their life.

All the systems seem to work although I was a bit disappointed by having to drive it home in the rain. Hopefully the summer will provide better oportunities to enjoy the converible. It may well be going to the Le Mans Classic later in the year.

TimboL

115 posts

88 months

[news] 
Monday 24th May 2010 quote quote all
niva441 said:
Well I've taken the plunge and bought one. ...
I hope it's working out well. They are lovely cars.

r192sl said:
... I would expect your aircon leak to be at the condensor.
Thanks for the pointer. That's exactly what the problem turned out to be. The condensor was badly corroded, stone damaged, and leaking.

I had a pneumatic pipe burst in one of the seat cushion adjustment controls a few weeks ago, and that finally prompted me to get some of the well overdue maintenance work done on the car.

I had the work done by A&A Merctech in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire, who I had not heard of before, but who somebody recommended to me a couple of months ago.

As well as replacing the passenger side lumbar support switch, A&A also diagnosed and replaced the failed a/c condensor and regassed the system, replaced the rear air cell accumulators, and replaced the rusty exhaust. They also replaced various other missing or corroded parts they discovered while they were working on the car. They did all of that at what I think is a very reasonable price.

Replacing the back-end ADS spheres has made a remarkable difference: I had not realised how much the ride and handling had deteriorated.

A&A Merctech have been a real find. I found them to be technically expert, happy to spend some time discussing the technical details with me, and keen to go the extra mile in the interest of achieving the right outcome for their customer. All in all, I've found them very impressive indeed.

Edited by TimboL on Monday 24th May 23:13

bolide

371 posts

134 months

[news] 
Monday 24th May 2010 quote quote all
A&A Merctech in Hoddesdon, Hertfordshire

Useful recommendation - I don't know of too many MB specialists in that area

Nick Froome
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