Mercedes SL (R129): Luxury roadster available at Corsa price

Mercedes SL (R129): Luxury roadster available at Corsa price

Undoubtedly, this Mercedes SL has a quiet life. In 15 years, only 68,000 kilometers were accumulated. First in the cool south of Switzerland, then in central Italy, Paglieta. He may never have had a true winter.
Even that won’t compromise the quality of the car, as the R 129 – according to company code – is resistant to the ravages of time like no other. This raises the question of why this example of the SL series is so cheap today. The gravel dealer on the arterial road offers a rock-bottom eater of kilometers with a sinful tuning look for under 15,000 euros. A brand new Opel Corsa is available for a little more.

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But even connoisseurs looking for a factory output car with a maximum of two letter entries and a stamped maintenance booklet from the Mercedes branch need not invest a lot of money – even for a 500, 326 hp V8 picture book, with Mercedes in 1989 in one hitherto unknown league performance Up.

The “SL” as an abbreviation for “Super Light” should not be taken too seriously with a curb weight of 1850 kilos.


An R 129 can also be enjoyed with six cylinders. And since design boss Bruno Sacco allowed only minor retouching during the twelve-year construction period, the simple charm of the original model was retained even when two facelifts, known in Swabian “MoPf” (upgraded model), white indicators, radiator retouched grille, replaced the bumper. contrast colored cars and more striking gills.

Why in-line machines are a good choice

Mercedes connoisseurs will give preference to the in-line engine, although there’s not much to say about the V engine introduced in 1998. The final M104 like the one in our photo car is the perfect choice in terms of classic SL feel and an interesting mix of refinement and styling. performance without running and maintenance costs drifting to ruin.
Mercedes R129

Six in-line is the pinnacle of an era; In 1998 Mercedes switched to a V engine. The V8 and V12 were available during construction.


Since the 129 sees itself as a sports car – you can hardly call it a roadster anymore given the many fancy gimmicks – the 231 hp on offer should be enough. The flowing sacco dress hides a little fat of prosperity: Here you have to move more than 1800 kilos!

The chassis is a rugged mass production of the W 124

As soon as you slam the door, you can tell: we’re not dealing with mortal convertibles, but with valuable long-term cars. We don’t want to start imagining the “last original Mercedes” again. But during a long fall outing over the Swabian Jurassic hills, the question keeps popping up in your head as to whether they ever built a more solid car in Stuttgart than they did in the early nineties. Ultimately, also because of the appeal of heavy metal, those who have made the switch from the timeless R 107 instantly feel at home with its successor, despite the official break.
Mercedes R129

Image friendly: the sleek styling penned by Mercedes design chief Bruno Sacco hides the fat of luxury.


And the feeling of well-being has a real technical reason too: The axles were donated to the “Wagen 124”, which has proven itself a million times over as a motorized taxi. The young mania for sportsmanship is always far from SL. Even in the 1990s, it was more of a two-seater S-Class than a sharp cornering machine. Nevertheless, apart from the somewhat pale recirculating ball steering and flexible springs, the drive is agile and practical compared to contemporary competitors like the Jaguar XJ-S.
Only a BMW 8-series could hold a candle to him, but it wasn’t publicly available because his father could never wean him from shaking. The SL seems immovable and solid. Nothing cracked, nothing cracked. The body and chassis are stiff like the concrete hairstyles of the women who often ride them.

Roll bar triggered pyrotechnically

In terms of safety, the R 129 isn’t half-assed either. As a pioneer in this field, Mercedes had high expectations – which were met by engineers with a whole list of innovations. Dimensionally stable cells coupled with integral, impact-resistant seats, comfort that even expensive premium items from today’s luxury cars can learn a thing or two from.
The icing on the cake, however, is – the premiere in the construction car series – a triggered pyrotechnic roll bar, which in an emergency shoots behind the seat in an instant.
Mercedes R129

The soft top of the Mercedes SL R129 disappears in 28 seconds at the push of a button. Great show 30 years ago.

The roof strip is still a show today

Anyone who transferred 135,000 marks to a Mercedes dealer at that time was offered even more. The 34-kilogram hardtop, for example, can be attached and removed in minutes. And an electro-hydraulic soft top that turns the SL into a spot in the sun in 28 seconds (which seems like forever these days). Nothing special anymore, but just then, onlookers gaped in amazement as the doctor’s wife pushed a button in front of the cafe and set 6 keys, 17 limit switches and 11 solenoid valves in motion.

The roof strip is still a spectacle today: first the lock on the back of the passenger compartment was released with a gentle “click”. Then the fastened cloth cap loosened slightly, drooped, swinging backwards in waves, while the lid of the storage box lifted, whereupon everything, neatly folded, disappeared smoothly into the hole below.

Mercedes R129

Some call it a taxicab look, others call it a functional aesthetic: the SL’s cockpit exudes the austere objectivity of the late eighties.


Long list of extras: Every little luxury comes at an extra cost

The ingenious roof mechanism, which is always included in the price of the vehicle, shouldn’t hide the fact that Mercedes is stingy elsewhere. Even when the price of the SL had long surpassed the 100,000 mark in the mid-nineties, the Swabians demanded that every little luxury be paid for separately – and even more so for the big one.

Leather upholstery, automatic air conditioning, and an “Exquisit” radio (here coupled with a Bose sound system whose bass booster took a toll on the emergency rear seats) caused this SL’s price to skyrocket to the 150,000 mark in 1997. Today, almost 25 years later. , Henry Royce’s legendary saying applies to the R 129: “Quality remains, even if the price is long forgotten.”