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  #1  
Old 12-03-2009, 08:01 PM
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Maybe a New MB - 96 SL500?

So I think I found my next car. I currently have a diesel wich I love, but I always wanted a convertible.

I found a 96 SL500 for 16900. It has only 40k miles and appears to be in immaculate condition with everything working. But I do have a few questions:

1. Is it a fair price?
2. Is there something about this car I should be worried about?
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96 SL 500

Assumption is the mother of all screw ups.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke
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  #2  
Old 12-03-2009, 11:43 PM
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The price is 16900...Mexican Pesos? You buy that car NOW. If it is dollars, then this car is ridiculously overpriced.

1996 was the first year for the electronically controlled transmission, and early ones are prone to early failure. Be sure to have 30000 pesos budgeted for a possible tranny rebuild in the not-distant future.
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For Sale: many used R129 parts from a white '92, black interior. Send email if interested.
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  #3  
Old 12-04-2009, 11:57 AM
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What would be a reasonable price for this car?

I am also curious about the trans issues - how would I nail them down and determine if this car is a candidate for failure?
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86 300 SDL - Vesuvius

96 SL 500

Assumption is the mother of all screw ups.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke
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  #4  
Old 12-04-2009, 01:59 PM
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the seller has offered 15,500 as their best.

Is this still overpriced?

I am still a bit worried about the trasmission as well, any ways to test the trans for issues? I have driven the car and did not notice any issues.
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86 300 SDL - Vesuvius

96 SL 500

Assumption is the mother of all screw ups.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke
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  #5  
Old 12-04-2009, 06:31 PM
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It's not a bad price for an equivalent '97 or '98 SL 500.

If you do pursue it, though, make sure of the soft top condition and operation, that the climate control works perfectly on all functions, no static in the stereo, and that the locking/unlocking works perfectly with both the remote and the key.

If the transmission works flawlessly under all conditions and doesn't leak, it's probably OK. You might ask if the seals on the electrical connector have been changed. And you should put $4000 in a money market account just in case.
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Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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  #6  
Old 12-04-2009, 06:59 PM
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are the transmissions really that bad? The dealer (go figure) claims they are the greatest thing since sliced bread.
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86 300 SDL - Vesuvius

96 SL 500

Assumption is the mother of all screw ups.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke
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  #7  
Old 12-05-2009, 12:06 AM
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The 96 transmission was so bad that there is a good chance it has already been upgraded. High likely hood of planetary failure. It got really good by the year 2000.
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  #8  
Old 12-05-2009, 12:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mowoc View Post
the seller has offered 15,500 as their best.

Is this still overpriced?
I suggest going to www.edmunds.com and looking-up the "True Market Value" of the car. Then get a feel for the current market by going to eBay and Autotrader. If you do this my guess is you will conclude the car is worth around $11,000.

If you get a '99 or newer model you will have a more robust transmission as Roncallo mentioned as well as a slightly more powerful, possibly less troublesome engine (no oil feed tube failures).
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For Sale: many used R129 parts from a white '92, black interior. Send email if interested.

Last edited by bobterry99; 12-05-2009 at 12:12 PM.
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  #9  
Old 12-05-2009, 12:42 PM
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My full brain dump.

I believe that the 3-valve/cylinder engine introduced in 1999 had less HP (302) than the 1996-98 4-valve (315).

Here's an article by Ken Rockwell that discusses the changes from year-to-year. He likes the '98 model.

http://www.kenrockwell.com/sl/r129history.htm

I like my '96, but the PO had to put a rebuilt transmission in it at 90K miles.

My S500 coupe (same engine and trans) had the problem with the electrical connector seal leaking allowing ATF to wick up the wiring and fill the controller. It would then randomly lock up the torque converter at a stop and kill the engine. I am not making this up. At about 110K it started to slip when moving off from a stop when cold.

I replaced the oil tubes in the coupe at 100K - one had blown.

1996 was the first year for OBD2 diagnostics. People with Star Diagnostics have told me that they got steadily better over the years and were "pretty good" by 2000.
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Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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  #10  
Old 12-05-2009, 04:01 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ctaylor738 View Post
I believe that the 3-valve/cylinder engine introduced in 1999 had less HP (302) than the 1996-98 4-valve (315)..
You are comparing peak horsepower, Chuck, where the engines are spinning at around 5500 RPM. If the engines drove the rear wheels through a continuously-variable transmission that permitted them to accelerate and always spin at those high RPMs, then as a practical matter, peak horsepower would completely characterize the performance of these engines. But of course the R129 has no CVT, and its engine operates over a broad range of RPMs; therefore, to more accurately characterize the power of these engines you have to consider a broader measure than peak horsepower: the engine power curve of horsepower vs. engine RPM. Comparing power curves the M113 engine (1999+) has a significant advantage over the M119 engine (1990-1998). In particular, the M113 makes more horsepower than the M119 at lower RPMs. This is why the 0-60 time is significantly lower for an M113-powered car and why an M113 has better throttle response while driving in-town.

Ken Rockwell is a guy who isn't particularly knowledgeable about Mercedes but has spent a lot of time making a website. He is responsible for spreading a considerable amount of disinformation about the R129, and this is a pity.
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  #11  
Old 12-05-2009, 04:45 PM
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Huh?

Well, peak horsepower is the commonly accepted measure of power.

And the assertion of better "significantly" better 0-60 times doesn't seem to be supported either. Most sources show the 119 at slightly under 6 seconds, the 113 at slightly over.

Example

http://www.zeroto60times.com/Mercedes-Benz-0-60-mph-Times.html
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Chuck Taylor
Falls Church VA
'66 200, '66 230SL, '96 SL500. Sold: '81 380SL, '86 300E, '72 250C, '95 C220, 3 '84 280SL's '90 420SEL, '72 280SE, '73 280C, '78 280SE, '70 280SL, '77 450SL, '85 380SL, '87 560SL, '85 380SL, '72 350SL, '96 S500 Coupe
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  #12  
Old 12-05-2009, 10:13 PM
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Thanks a bunch!

I think your right and the dealer is trying to rip me off. No way am I paying 16900 for this car. Maybe 12000 is closer to realistic.

Also, it worries me that they did not know about the transmission issue. Was there a formal recall? how would I find out about any official action taken by MB?
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86 300 SDL - Vesuvius

96 SL 500

Assumption is the mother of all screw ups.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke
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  #13  
Old 12-06-2009, 11:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mowoc View Post
Was there a formal recall? how would I find out about any official action taken by MB?
There was no recall.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ctaylor738 View Post
Well, peak horsepower is the commonly accepted measure of power.
Typically, in actual driving an engine will essentially never output its maximum horsepower even at full throttle. In typical conditions an M113 has more power available than an M119. Why?

Torque. Mathematically, horsepower is directly proportional to torque. Both the M113 and M119 motors have comparable maximum torque ratings; but while the M113 makes maximum torque between 2700 and 4500 RPMs, the M119 achieves this in a much narrower range from 4000 to 4500 RPM.

Quote:
Originally Posted by ctaylor738 View Post
And the assertion of better "significantly" better 0-60 times doesn't seem to be supported either.
Mercedes quotes a 0-60 time of 6.4 seconds for the '96-'98 SL500; they quote a 6.1 second time for the '99-'02. Source: the old website, the '96 and '02 R129 U.S. brochures. If you compare these cars driving them back-to-back the M113 car has noticeably more power.

At any rate, the OP or another prospective buyer may not care about performance nuances. But if they do, I suggest they not rely on what Chuck or I have written. Instead, make the back-to-back comparison.
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  #14  
Old 12-06-2009, 01:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobterry99 View Post
Ken Rockwell is a guy who isn't particularly knowledgeable about Mercedes but has spent a lot of time making a website. He is responsible for spreading a considerable amount of disinformation about the R129, and this is a pity.
Agree.

Mercedes does NOT take backwards steps, and the newer engine is better in lots of ways than the previous version. It's now been replaced, too, except for use in a few "55" AMGs still in production.

But, as for heritage, the M119 was in a LeMans overall winner, but the M113 is the SLR McLaren engine.
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  #15  
Old 12-07-2009, 12:58 PM
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Well, I am pleased to say I found another 96 SL 500. This one has 84,000 miles on it but is much more in line with what I would expect to pay - 10.5k list.

Apparently all the books and records should be with this car. Aside from the transmission question is there anything else I should concern myself with?
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86 300 SDL - Vesuvius

96 SL 500

Assumption is the mother of all screw ups.

Do not go gentle into that good night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas

All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing - Edmund Burke
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