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  #1  
Old 01-04-2005, 07:55 PM
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Location: England
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Drove first 500SL today

I drove an R129 today, which was a rather exciting prospect, I should say! :p

It was a 1990 500SL - very early - with a low mileage for its age.

Firstly, it looked stunning. I've never had any time to inspect an SL, but the old 8 (/9?) hole MB wheels look great - much better than in photos. The car had huge presence - just sitting still it felt like standing next to a lion while it sleeps, though I have never noticed such presence in the SL before. The colour helped - metallic black the same as my 190E. I would love that pairing on my driveway :p.

Stepping inside, I was surprised by the small cabin. I expected it to feel primarily like a luxurious Mercedes, but the first impression is of being in a sports car, albeit a large and, yes, luxurious one. It was nice as it felt different to Mercedes saloons, but I was concerned as to whether the drive would compliment the interior sacrifices.

I only drove about 3 miles, with the hard top on so I could not enjoy the roof down experience. It seemed a great cruiser, although not as pleasant a ride quality as an E/S-class, still very Mercedes-like.

At first, I felt it didn't have as much low-down 'lug' as I expected. However, I realised that it's just rather highly geared. On the short, twisty drive I took this was a shame as any excursion through the rev range meant hitting rather too high a speed...

But what excursions! This is the fastest car I have ever driven, without question! It is almost violently fast through second gear on a narrow road. I expected it to be woofly-fast like any V8 - a 740i or an A8 4.2, but realise now what a real V8 in a small package can really do! All that engine working through a highly-geared automatic did still mean it was not as satisfyingly torquey as I was expecting though.


Around the city, I fear you would never feel the V8's power, and the size and low driving position mean you are better off in a Mercedes saloon. Leaving the city and driving 600 miles across country with the roof down would be heaven however.


As nice as the engine, ride, and looks are though, I came away slightly less excited about it. Grinning like a child when I first saw it - even more so when I heard it start up - the grin turned more to satisfied appreciation when I was done. Perhaps that is an even finer compliment than a grin. Still standing next to it, getting into it and driving it all feel special.

But it's a little large so that ultimately - slightly more so even than my 190E - it's at its best on fast roads or motorways. I am highly convinced of its competence, and believe it would make an excellent companion to own, and use daily.

The rub is.. I drove a 2001 S-class just a month ago. It felt similar, but with a better view out of the windows. The feeling when sitting in the driver's seat was much less 'cool', but still the handling is very competent and driving the car felt barely different. However it's rather more sensible and goes almost as fast.


So to summarise, it's very impressive that Mercedes can make a low-slung 2-seat sports car drive like an S-class... but on the other hand, it's a shame Mercedes' low-slung 2-seat sports car drives like an S-class..


Russ

P.S. So I guess it sounds like I'm after a 500E then?
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190E's:
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2.0E 8v 1986 107,000m Black 2nd owner
http://www.maylane.demon.co.uk/190esmall.jpghttp://www.maylane.demon.co.uk/190esmall2.jpg
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  #2  
Old 01-04-2005, 09:38 PM
elau's Avatar
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Now you go back and drive it topless. Guarantee you won't say the same.
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  #3  
Old 01-04-2005, 10:11 PM
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The 129 is 3 different cars entirely,,,, Hard top on, soft top up, or soft top down. I feel the best handling and of course the quietest, is with the hard top on. Soft top up looks sporty, and ready to get down to business. Top down is pure sex and the looks you get is worth every dime you paid. I love my 129 and wouldn't trade it for 2 new Vette convertibles. Well, maybe I would and sell them for a down payment on a new SL65. I confess I don't drive mine every day, and it is put away for the winter, but it is still a great all round car with great seating and plenty of trunk and behind seat storage. For most twisty 2 lane driving I just keep it in 3rd gear and it will reward you with all the performance the average person could want. I consider myself very lucky to have experienced this car in my lifetime.
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  #4  
Old 01-04-2005, 11:01 PM
1990 500SL
 
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Agree, I have a 1990 SL, like you drove.

When I test drove it, I never realized the punch it had, and the growl from the exhaust, muted but potent.

Compared to the Vette, My little bro has a beautiful '92 rag top.

The Mercedes looks good with the Hard top on, you wouldn't know it was removable. Keith has the Hardtop, although he's never really had it on, it really looks wrong.
The SL is so roomy inside, the Vette or even a brand new XLR with the top up is right behind your head. You feel like you want to crouch down. The SL is big and expansive.

Cruising is comfortable, and you get really get it out of the hole if you use first gear !!!
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  #5  
Old 01-05-2005, 12:06 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kknudson
Agree, I have a 1990 SL, like you drove.

When I test drove it, I never realized the punch it had, and the growl from the exhaust, muted but potent.

Compared to the Vette, My little bro has a beautiful '92 rag top.

The Mercedes looks good with the Hard top on, you wouldn't know it was removable. Keith has the Hardtop, although he's never really had it on, it really looks wrong.
The SL is so roomy inside, the Vette or even a brand new XLR with the top up is right behind your head. You feel like you want to crouch down. The SL is big and expansive.

Cruising is comfortable, and you get really get it out of the hole if you use first gear !!!
Not so sure you can compare a Vette and a Mercedes SL. I have both - my Vette is a C5 body style. These are two totally different cars to fill different needs and desires. If want class and ride and smoothness go for the Mercedes but if you want an E-Ticket performance ride that will scare the crap out of most of your riders with their eye balls popping out when you put the pedal down - then go for the Vette. Nothing out there gives as much performance for $$$ spent than a C5 or C6 Corvette. Plus the Vettes have more leg room hip room and head room than an SL. But I still love my SLs
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  #6  
Old 01-05-2005, 12:49 AM
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Location: Prince George BC
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You guy's are bringing tears to my eyes! I bought my first Benz last March, a 1990 500SL and had with-out a doubt had the best summer of driving pleasure I have ever had. Here I sit tonight depressed with my Benz tucked away in winter storage as it is -30 C outside and I am facing a driveway full of snow. How does a person not get excited driving a two seater convertible that accelerates hard up to 200 KPH in third and then shifts to 4th and really stretches out, or snakes around a 70KPH curve at 140KPH like it was on rails. This summers driving expierence was not unlike having a mistress. Moments of anticipation. anxiety and frustration followed by brief periods of heart pounding excitement. And the good news is the car probably won't cost 1/2 of a house and business. Oh well only 3 months untill the snow goes away. Best of luck to all in the new year.
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  #7  
Old 01-05-2005, 03:42 PM
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Well I drove the car again today, for about 10-15 miles, to give me a second chance to see what it's like. Again not long enough to fully experience the car, but I did discover that it turns and handles rather well. But still it didn't beg to be driven faster, and I felt I could only really use the power on straight bits between the bends.


It's still a great car, and the sound was lovely to burble around to, but I can't help feeling that you would get more thrills from something smaller, with more direct handling and a nice V6. Climbing back into the 190E afterwards - which I had envisioned replacing with a 500SL - I only missed the sound and the acceleration; none of the other aspects except perhaps the attention it gets. I know I missed out on wind-in-the-hair motoring though.


I guess I knew all this already, and though I'm sure I will have an SL at some point in my life, perhaps at 22 I am just too young for it now?


Russ
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190E's:
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2.0E 8v 1986 107,000m Black 2nd owner
http://www.maylane.demon.co.uk/190esmall.jpghttp://www.maylane.demon.co.uk/190esmall2.jpg
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  #8  
Old 01-05-2005, 06:44 PM
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If you can get an SL, then do it! You should always enjoy the most you can while you are young and if you can afford the maintenance, go for it! I have had my 129 SL for a little over a year now, I test drove more than a dozen cars and it is hard to find a good one that has not been neglected. They require a lot of attention but give you a lot of "grin" in return. Make sure you have a place for it, a garage at home and at work, because you will absolutely love it, which is why I put over 30k on mine in the first year, I love driving it! A great car to look at and an even better driving experience. The technology in these cars are absolutely mind boggling, so get a manual and learn all you can. Good Luck!
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  #9  
Old 01-09-2005, 03:23 PM
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Smile

If you want to experience real brute force then take a ride in a SL60 AMG 129 the performance is in a different league to the normal 500 model. With 380BHP the acceleration under kickdown/ full throttle realy is amazing, one must be sure to steer around any slow moving traffic before unleashing the sledge hammer in the back acceleration and then a relentless pull to the speed restrictor. I have to agree about the car being bit of a loose canon on UK roads fine on a long straight but needing respect on the twisty bits. Even the AMG cars feel like they need a bit stiffer setup, theres good ride qaulity but more scuttle shake with the hood down then I was expecting. Perhaps thats why they didnt make it any stiffer? The SL60 uses the SL600 brakes which seem OK providing you dont do to many high speed stops you have to remember that these cars are about the same weight has a contemporary S class!. I also think the long throttle action can be a bit intimmidating as not a lot happens at first and then all hell brakes loose.
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  #10  
Old 01-10-2005, 05:35 AM
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Pentoman, I find that British roads and speed limits rarely get the best from the SL. It is a very fast car, but it doesn't get into its stride--in terms of handling, ride, and power delivery--until you're up to illegally high speeds. The best way to enjoy it is as a deep-chested cruiser, rather than an all-out sports car. Around town you rely on the huge torque and smooth delivery, rather than wringing the life out of each gear. Heck, 2nd gear is good for 85mph.

That is not to say you can't occasionally cream the hot hatches in a traffic light grands prix!

I have never regretted buying mine.
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  #11  
Old 01-11-2005, 01:34 PM
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Go for it!!! Buy your 129!

I love my 107 but it doesn't cut it next to the 129. Style is a matter of opinion but comfort, performance and refinement are no contest. You may need to have a wagon or minivan in the future so get hte SL and run it as long as you can.
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  #12  
Old 01-13-2005, 06:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Gutman
I love my 107 but it doesn't cut it next to the 129. Style is a matter of opinion but comfort, performance and refinement are no contest...
I totally agree. The difference between my old 350SL and my present SL500 are night and day. And I prefer day!

Ken Silver
--------------
~1993 SL500, glistening triple black, xenons, AMG facelift to 2002 style.
~1999 SLK 230 Kompressor, silver/black leather, CD, immaculate
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~ex 350SL, 230E, 280E, MX5 and a lot of other makes not nearly as nice.
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