RE: Mercedes-Benz 500 SL: Spotted

RE: Mercedes-Benz 500 SL: Spotted

Thursday 2nd May

Mercedes-Benz 500 SL: Spotted

R129 SL mixes thumping V8 muscle with uber cool '80s design - and all for under £14k...



Mercedes has been making V8-powered SLs since 1971, when the 350 SL arrived with a 3.5-litre delivering a then respectable 200hp, but it took a further nine years for the daddy of the SL line-up, the 500, to go on sale. Even with its late arrival, the bigger brute has arguably had a more profound effect on what we expect from a Mercedes luxury drop-top than any other model.

Using a thumping great 5.0-litre engine, the 1980 SL was an effortless, muscular convertible with a soundtrack to match. It set a precedence for V8 SLs that has been passed down through the decades without interruption, and its influence can still be seen today in the current 500 - even if that car uses a 4.7 twin-turbocharged eight. It's a tried and tested formula - expect the character of the 4.0-litre 'hot-vee' to be adjusted to match when it goes into the 2021 SL 500.


Since the original model, we've had five generations of SLs, but predictably, of the old ones it's the first that garners the most affection. Now, however, with prices for good first-gen 500 SLs nudging past the £50k mark and the designs of the '80s and '90s coming of age, the second generation 5.0-litre SL is fast becoming the one to watch. Or so the pundits say.

First off, it took such an almighty step up in performance from its comparably lazy predecessor that even today it seems quick - 320hp without turbocharging is nothing to be sniffed at, nor is a 6.3 second 0-60mph time for something weighing 1.9 tonnes.

Much of the R129-generation SL's weight came from its extensive list of safety features. It was properly ahead of its time, with standard-fit rollover protection that fired out of the rear deck in an accident and strengthened A-pillars ready to bear serious load. It also came with all the latest mod-cons for the day, including electric heated memory seats and electronic stability control. In some ways, it's an infotainment touchscreen away from the kit list of today's equivalents.


It's likely that its comparative usability is doing its resurgent appeal no harm. Sure, you'll need a long descent, tailwind and anti-gravity technology to see anything above 15mpg from the V8, which also puts out about as much CO2 as a small forest fire. But as a set of weekend wheels you can leave waiting in the garage to deploy only on sunny weekends, this era of 500 should demand precious few sacrifices (hydrocarbons aside).

That alone makes it rather easy to argue a case for today's pick from the classifieds, a 36k-old Japanese import with Pearly Grey paintwork and a set of colour-coded wheels to match. It looks utterly spotless both inside and out in the pictures, and is available for just shy of 14 big ones. Cushdy.


SPECIFICATIONS - MERCEDES-BENZ 500 SL

Engine: 4,973cc V8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 320@5,600rpm
Torque (lb ft): 346@3,900rpm
MPG: 23 (est.)
CO2: 300g/km (est.)
First registered: 1991
Recorded mileage: 63,000
Price new: N/A
Yours for: £13,950

See the original advert here

Author
Discussion

paulyv

Original Poster:

626 posts

64 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Yes, love these. Often wondered if I would trade my 107 for a 129...have not done so yet, but you never know. It's just that little bit more modern than the SL I am used to, not to mention safe.

By the way, which is it - 36k or 63k miles? I suspect the former given the price. Personally I'd be tempted to find a high mileage one at 6k, if those can still be found.

mrclav

791 posts

164 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
paulyv said:
Yes, love these. Often wondered if I would trade my 107 for a 129...have not done so yet, but you never know. It's just that little bit more modern than the SL I am used to, not to mention safe.

By the way, which is it - 36k or 63k miles? I suspect the former given the price. Personally I'd be tempted to find a high mileage one at 6k, if those can still be found.
The ad itself says 36k miles.

Numeric

471 posts

92 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Yesterday a BMW from what I think of as the high water mark for them and today a Merc from the time when they could do seemingly little wrong from a 'built to last' standpoint.

What summarises this for me is the incredible over engineering that went into these cars, they were built by people who seemed to really care rather than just watched the cost. I know the W140 was beaten up by the Lexus, but I have to say that I far preferred the 140, it was just expensive because it was so very good.

Just a shame that now we see Mercs as Brave Pill fodder at 10 years old!!

cerb4.5lee

11,379 posts

121 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
I've always really liked these, very nice. cool

LaurasOtherHalf

14,819 posts

137 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
God that looks good smile
Advertisement

Gandahar

6,407 posts

69 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Fantastic, has to have Pam Ewing sitting in the car as well for full effect

https://www.express.co.uk/celebrity-news/1008143/V...


Welshbeef

36,323 posts

139 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Every so often when I fill up at the petrol station a lovely black SL600 (I’m not sure if it’s amg or not but it’s an SL600 of this shape).

Lovely thing and more often than not be fully opens it out on leaving - I’m still filling up and get to enjoy that engine taken to very high rpm smile

cidered77

510 posts

138 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Got one in 2016 - lovely very early 1990 model a nice two-tone grey. Nothing goes wrong - has the M119 engine which won le mans (ok, with a couple of turbos added) and i read somewhere hasn't a "single documented case of bottom of top end failure", although i'm sure more qualified people than me on R129s here can validate!

I have no plans to sell mine - it's a lovely wafty, comfy drive, although 0-60 in 6.3 i'm a little skeptical of! Sounds glorious with the roof down too - a slightly muted "classy" V8. Not shouty, just "classy".

Was never a fan of the larger wheels - all a bit too "essex" for me (no offence if you live there); also, I may be mistaken but i thought the indicator lenses went clear in 1994, so that car doesn't seem to be running the right spec. Either an owner mod, or maybe more substantial front end repairs at some point. Or I've just got it wrong!

Kawasicki

6,044 posts

176 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Quick story...

So I was tasked with testing some tyres. Test vehicle was a 500SL (or SL500!)

Put the tyres on and drove on the public road. Car was a joy to drive. Extremely neutral in balance...so neutral that I couldn't believe it could have a forward weight bias.

So, I got back to test track and weighed the car straight away. Weight, IIRC, was 900Kg on the front axle and 920kg on the rear axle, with me sat in the drivers seat. Wow.

I always liked the SL, after that day I love them.

only1ian

573 posts

135 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
It’s not hard to retrofit Apple CarPlay, parking sensors and phone connectivity for less than £500 you can give this modern infotainment

cidered77

510 posts

138 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
only1ian said:
It’s not hard to retrofit Apple CarPlay, parking sensors and phone connectivity for less than £500 you can give this modern infotainment
I've got a bluetooth unit in the little ashtray unit under a retro looking (but not original) Becker Grand Prix unit. Costs £150 or so - and means get audio books, spotify, Waze through the speakers, etc.

Stereo is great too - not much bottom end, but loads of power - can easily hear it with the roof down at autobhan speeds

cmoose

44,343 posts

170 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Looks expensive. Nearly bought a really nice one with similar mileage for about £5k a few years ago. Have they really gone up that much?

Not keen on those rimz. I do love the R129 SL, but in the end couldn't get on with how it drives. The drive can't really deliver on the low slung sporty looks. I actually like how it drives, but would suit a taller, more luxury orientated coupe, like a C124, which is of course on the same platform.

Still, bloody nice things.

Podie

45,413 posts

216 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Seems criminally cheap!

Some great readers cars threads on these buried in PH... the complexity of the systems is quite staggering.

PGNSagaris

2,081 posts

107 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
paulyv said:
Yes, love these. Often wondered if I would trade my 107 for a 129...have not done so yet, but you never know. It's just that little bit more modern than the SL I am used to, not to mention safe.
As a former 129 and 107 owner, my advice would be don’t do it. I did.

I’d go back to a 107 in a flash. A 129 less so

Ultrafunkula

599 posts

46 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Its Cushty.

Del boy would not be 'appy

cookie1600

1,129 posts

102 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
I've only ever driven a 300SL 24V R129 and it was slushtastic, in an 80's 'Dallas' sort of way.

cidered77

510 posts

138 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
cmoose said:
Looks expensive. Nearly bought a really nice one with similar mileage for about £5k a few years ago. Have they really gone up that much?

Not keen on those rimz. I do love the R129 SL, but in the end couldn't get on with how it drives. The drive can't really deliver on the low slung sporty looks. I actually like how it drives, but would suit a taller, more luxury orientated coupe, like a C124, which is of course on the same platform.

Still, bloody nice things.
Values are starting to spread a lot - you see many optimistically priced cars on Autotrader and Pistonheads, with low mileage and originality seeming to drive the premiums. But if you look at eBay and search on completed sales, they (albeit generally more rough and ready) examples, they go for less.

I got mine as part of a swap that effectively valued it at £6750 with 73k miles. Now with 78k miles, a great health check from The SL Shop and a couple of grand of sorting rusty arches i wouldn't sell for less than £12k but it would still take ages to move at that price i think.

sinbaddio

1,323 posts

117 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
I've had mine for 5 years - 92 500SL with around 100k on it now. For a couple of years it was a daily driver, but it's now stored for the winter.I paid £3750 for mine!

I absolutely love it, as mentioned above it's got all the creature comforts you need, plus some interesting quirks. I've yet to test this but apparently it sets off in 2nd unless you manually put it in 1st - I'll find out in a few months when it comes back out:


pSyCoSiS

2,443 posts

146 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
Love them. I own a 1990 BlueBlack 500 SL-32, with black leather.

Built from granite.

The wheels in the spotted are too modern - it either needs the period AMGs or the standard R129 items.

Lovely cruisers, brute of an engine - incidentally, these are more powerful than the later engines, which put out 306bhp (as opposed to the 322bhp on these).

However, they are surprisingly small in size - when parked side by side, the 8 Series dwarfs it in every way (still a heavy car though).

My favourite shape of all the modern SLs (but lust after a Pagoda 280 SL).

These are very expensive to run when they go wrong, as a lot of parts are becoming difficult to source. Worth even buying an old battered one just to use for parts when they are required.

The R129 will be the next model to creep up in value.

pSyCoSiS

2,443 posts

146 months

Thursday 2nd May
quotequote all
sinbaddio said:
I've had mine for 5 years - 92 500SL with around 100k on it now. For a couple of years it was a daily driver, but it's now stored for the winter.I paid £3750 for mine!

I absolutely love it, as mentioned above it's got all the creature comforts you need, plus some interesting quirks. I've yet to test this but apparently it sets off in 2nd unless you manually put it in 1st - I'll find out in a few months when it comes back out:

That is absolutely stunning. Bournite?

And I only paid £3200 for mine back in 2015, but admitted spent more that that in upkeep and maintenance. Well worth it though, it's such a pleasure to drive.

Yes they do lazily pull off in 2nd unless you kick down, at which point the nose lifts and propels itself down the road with a lovely V8 growl. They are crying out for a 5th gear though, which the later models did get.