Mercedes-Benz has long relied on sales of practical, high-quality sedans (and, increasingly, SUVs) as the core of its business. However, it has indulged in a two-seat open car as its flagship for much of its history. While the AMG-GT has essentially claimed that role, for decades it was the the sole purview of the SL ... Read the full article on Hagerty.com:
It's time for some recognition of this series in the collector car marketplace for what it is - a very dependable, comfortable, and powerful touring car from the best era of modern Mercedes-Benz build quality. Many are still available for pennies on the dollar, compared to what they sold for when new. Buy now, before prices creep out of range.
I bought a 1995 SL600 a few years ago. It's been sitting since, waiting for me to finish my shop so I can restore it. I really didn't need another car (already have a 2001 SLK 320) but there was the lure of the V12.
I suspect it's going to be a money pit but we all know that's not why we're in this hobby. I think the design is really clean (thanks Mr Sacco) and it represent the first high technology car for MB.
Purists will shudder at what I'm about to say but I may convert it to a manual transmission. The automatics up to and including 95 were not the best so I'd like to simplify things.
Just a few years back I got interested in these, and went to look at a couple.
After all, they were Mercedes' and maybe their top-player too. The prices being asked were amazingly reasonable; even low.
All that technology comes at a price: when things go bad, they go J.P. Morgan bad. The owners might not have been wanting to get another car just yet, but the cost of needed repairs spurred them, (catapulted might also be accurate,) to sell, and "cheap".
My finances don't allow for such fantasies. (I was also considering Porsche 928's... Whew, dodged a real bullet there.)
Hagerty, Joe Lorio, wrote a buyer's guide article on the R129 in April last year. So, I have to blame you for the fact I now have 2 of them. 😉 I have a 99 SL500 and a 98 SL600.
I have never owned Mercedes before and I'm impressed with the build quality and performance. Not a sports car, a PLC, Personal Luxury Coupe.
They seem to be designed to work on and maintain, accessible.
The 500 is a great open top, mountain drive tourer. And I've gotten as much as 30mpg on trips. Totally unexpected from a 4000 pound car with a V8. The 600 is a whole different animal. Smooth, quiet(too quiet), powerful and just liquefies bumps with its hydraulic suspension.
I was only half kidding when I blamed Hagerty. Joe's article got me interested in Mercedes for the first time ever, which led to researching, which led to buying.
I do not regret it for a minute. In fact, my searching and purchasing caused two friends to buy SL500s.
I can highly recommend them. And as you've noted, the good ones are bringing all the money on BAT. Maybe they'll outdo my 401k!
Find one with a good service history, top cylinders replaced, valve cover gaskets replaced, and go for it.
Excellent gentleman's cruiser. Sure, they have their top hydraulics issues, as Porsche has IMS bearings and BMW has subframe cracks. If you want to own a classic luxury car, there is a price of admission. For the R129, that price is not unreasonable, in my opinion.
Back in the early Naughties before we outgrew that whole high flying yuppy thing, my wife’s “mommy-car” was an E39 Touring and my daily driver an R129. I used to tell people that she drove a sports car disguised as a station wagon and I drove a station wagon disguised as a sports car.
I have a 2003 SL 500 with 65K on the clock. I'm an avid Porsche guy, but this car is head and shoulders over the Boxter-S, I had. Quality everywhere, and plenty of power. I LOVE it. Jim.