RE: Mercedes SL 320 (R129): Spotted

RE: Mercedes SL 320 (R129): Spotted

Wednesday 6th February

Mercedes SL 320 (R129): Spotted

Earlier SLs are getting expensive, but fourth-gen cars like this still provide German roadster fun on a budget



Isn't it interesting how popular culture has done a full circle in these past few years? Vinyl sales are up, flares are back and film cameras are the in thing. Even if you're not interested in all of that, you'll almost certainly have noticed that cars have experienced a similar paradigm shift, with certain machines from the eighties, nineties and early noughties having received a surge of interest in the classifieds. The R129 Mercedes SL is one of the latest models to ride this wave of resurrected demand.

Good examples of its predecessor, the third-gen SL, are now priced at around £30k in the used market, so it seems more buyers wanting a retro German drop-top are being forced to take notice of the later car. With its cleaner, more swept back design, the fourth SL model doesn't quite have the classic cabriolet looks of its elder, but it more than makes up for that with usability and luxury that can still put modern premium cars to shame.


It was a big step forward for Mercedes when it arrived in 1989, so much so that its design and technology influenced what went into lower ranking models for years after its arrival. The use of adaptive suspension that would lower itself at high speed for better stability and aerodynamics was impressive, but it was the car's inclusion of the very latest safety systems that helped set it apart from the rest of the field.

The SL was right at the forefront of electronic stability technology back in '89, being one of the very first cars to use ESP and traction control. The drop-top also introduced roll-over protection hardware that thrust hidden hoops out of its body in milliseconds when it sensed things going awry, plus, the car was kitted out with airbags and used a structure well ahead of its time. Today, then, you might be drawn to this SL for of its mix of '90s style and modern safety.


Still, these days came long before electrification and stop/start tech were a focus, so the powertrains under the long bonnet of the SL were comparably traditional. They came in six-, eight- and twelve-cylinder forms, with the SL 73 AMG the most extreme example of the latter - so much so that its 525hp engine was later adopted for use in the Pagani Zonda. This ensured the SL line-up was promoted from the ranks of luxury cruiser to proper performance machine for the first time.

Which brings us nicely to today's Spotted. Since we're talking about affordable SLs here, we've selected a mid-range SL 320, although it still uses a 3.2-litre six that has 224hp. That gives it enough power to sprint from zero to 62mph in 8.4 seconds and on to a top speed of 148mph - plenty fast for a car that provides its passengers with such thick leather and swathes of wood. This car's interior looks to be in great condition too, with only an aftermarket stereo spoiling its originality.


You could, of course, bag yourself a later fifth-generation SL for less - see this 2004 SL 350 that's up for £4,250 as an example. But for those wanting something closer to a classic German convertible, one that was worthy of the likes of a Biggie Smalls, Tupac and even Princess Di back in the day, this 24-year-old SL 320 should do quite nicely.

SPECIFICATIONS - MERCEDES SL 320 (R129)

Engine: 3,199cc, six-cylinder
Transmission: 5-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 224@5,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 232@3,000rpm
MPG: 24.6
CO2: N/A
Year registered: 1995
Recorded mileage: 85,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £8,995

Click here to see the full ad.

Author
Discussion

Lotusgone

Original Poster:

112 posts

65 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
You don't see many convertible taxis, do you?

dotgillingham

30 posts

33 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
Everything is right about this, apart from the colour!

You would have to put a period-correct Blaupunkt back in, just as an excuse to use that centre console cassette storage smile

dotgillingham

30 posts

33 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
Everything is right about this, apart from the colour!

You would have to put a period-correct Blaupunkt back in, just as an excuse to use that centre console cassette storage smile

LayZ

1,315 posts

180 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
Not a V6 redcard

PistonBroker

1,600 posts

164 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
Had an R-reg SL280 in my watch list the other week. That was a lovely looking thing in dark metallic blue.

But, no, that white does not work.
Advertisement

Dapster

2,918 posts

118 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
dotgillingham said:
Everything is right about this, apart from the colour!

You would have to put a period-correct Blaupunkt back in, just as an excuse to use that centre console cassette storage smile
You mean a Becker Mexico!!



Yes, the colour is awful!

the_g_ster

301 posts

133 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
The hidden gem is the cassette holder in the centre too, who actually has the means now to record from online to tape.

Surely these car's don't depreciate anymore, hence save for maint' costs, free car over time....

sinbaddio

1,264 posts

114 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
I love my R129 - bought as per the article because R107's are getting dear (and have been for a while). Got mine (500SL) 5 years ago for £3k. For two years it was my daily and is utterly superb! Front ride height looks a touch high on the one advertised?


cookie1600

1,066 posts

99 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
A very elderly gentleman friend of mine had a 320 W129 on private plates in light metallic blue with cream leather. He spent a fortune on it having a new hood, alloys (he used the old ones as flower pots) all new rubbers throughout, regular servicing and all carried out by the main dealer. It still had the original Motorola car phone fitted.

The car was good to start with, but immaculate after he spent all that money on it. I drove it on a number of occasions and it was never quick, but certainly a nice open air wafter.

When he packed up driving I wanted to make him an offer for it, but he gave it away within his family and I've never seen it again.

Genuine Barn Find

4,974 posts

153 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
We took an R129 SL down to Le Mans last year - a wonderful bit of kit! My friend loves it so much he is keeping it. He even managed to source the original factory pan roof that was supplied with the car from new. The car spent most of its life in London, so you can imagine the surprise when the pan roof turned out to be under a dust sheet in a garage 2 miles from his house (Black Country). It was in mint condition. He paid £500 for it (and a bottle of whisky), which I understand is a bit of a steal...

Values are jumping on these, but there are still bargains to be had. Much like the low mileage 1988 R107 SL I could have bought privately a few years back for £14,000....

Trusty Steed

231 posts

132 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
I've a 96 P SL320. Lovely car and I'd also happily take 9k for it too

Edited by Trusty Steed on Wednesday 6th February 14:27


Edited by Trusty Steed on Wednesday 6th February 14:30

daveco

3,657 posts

145 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all



Later models with the AMG alloys, updated brake/clear lights, refreshed bumpers and panoramic roof look a lot better imo.


I saw a silver SL73 some years ago and that thing had some presence on the road!

The Don of Croy

4,724 posts

97 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
sinbaddio said:
I love my R129 - bought as per the article because R107's are getting dear (and have been for a while). Got mine (500SL) 5 years ago for £3k. For two years it was my daily and is utterly superb! Front ride height looks a touch high on the one advertised?

Getting that photographed in front of a shop that appears to be named "Seriously gitted" - top marks.

Andrew-396pl

5 posts

4 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
these cars - whilst cheap are at a point in life where big bills on odd parts can arise.
Try an odd misfire ending up as an entire new wiring loom.......£1000's.......

Sensors die like crane flies......

plastics turn to chocolate....

just warning......

LeighW

1,631 posts

126 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
My wife's grandad's car, 37000 miles, two owners from new. I had the chance to buy it when he died, but I hesitated as I was in the middle of a house build at the time and it needed a few bits doing to it. The gran sold it to a local trader for £3000, and it appeared at (IIRC) Hexagon a short while later for £10995. Doh. banghead


MrGeoff

291 posts

110 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
Great car, have had extensive use of both the 320 and 500. The 500 sounds great but the 320 isn't a bad base. Great price point now but as said they do go wrong and when they do it costs a bit. From memory the roof ECUs have a habit of going wrong and that's about 1k but hey they are nice cars.

Cupramax

7,701 posts

190 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
Trusty Steed said:
I've a 96 P SL320. Lovely car and I'd also happily take 9k for it too
I'd pay you £9k to take those hideous wheels off it laugh

SmartVenom

407 posts

107 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
The automotive media seem desperate to talk up the price of these cars, but despite the numerous articles prices seem to remain stubbornly low. Certainly a fair bit lower than this one is up for.

MikeyC

466 posts

165 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
Nice cars, but, as already mentioned be prepared for potential bills
Also, seem to recall reading on these forums problem with getting replacement key fobs for the later models (2 ducts after front wheel rather than 3)

Looking back at auction prices, the 320 & 500 versions appear to be more saught after

I note that the PH Ad link in the article is wrong, its selecting years 1977 -> 89 whereas R129's appeared from 1989 onwards, so it's showing mainly R107's

acme

1,962 posts

136 months

Wednesday 6th February
quotequote all
There's been a great few threads on here about 129's for anyone looking, and some very knowledgeable owners.

My only reservation (as has been said) is that they're very complex as compared to say a 107 (look at the roof mechanism), but then again they're undoubtedly a lot safer and I'm not aware they rust in the way a 107 does, in particular around the bulkhead.

I've often borrowed the line from someone on PH that you don't drive a 107 but sail her, can anyone who has experience in both a 107 and 129 advise what they're like in comparison?

Cheers