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Old 08-10-2003, 06:53 PM
LOWMILE's Avatar
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Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: Chicago Il.
Posts: 101
Avoid what year 500SL?

I have read on this forumn that you really should try for a 1991 or newer 500SL Because of On Board Diagnostics (OBD) other than that is there any thing else to avoid or look at? I Test drove a 1994 Brilliant Green 500SL. I liked it very much. The wife liked it but thought it was a little to flashy...maybe I will look for a more subdued color...I am sold on this model. I will own one soon.
I got a really fair trade in value on my 1972 23000 mile 350SL I would hate to see it go it might be in the top five in the country mileage and condition wise. The only thing is I feel extremely guilty putting mileage on the car. A 500Sl I would be driven and enjoyed. Maybe in the garage on salty winter day...but driven most others. Any thought's?
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I love low mileage cars!
1972 350SL 23,000 miles
Now 1969 280SL
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Old 08-10-2003, 10:18 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: Grand Rapids, MI
Posts: 766
No expertise on 129s--but I can tell you what I've learned from my few months with my 560SL.
It's my daily driver for this summer, and I wouldn't have it any other way. It's much too sweet in use to sit in the garage; it turns a weekday drive home from work into "Damn, I love this car!"
Having said that, I understand perfectly your reluctance to drive your 107, untouched and low-mileage as it is. At that mileage and in that condition, it's a collector car, not a driver, as you've justly concluded.
I'll mention that mine just turned 149K today, runs beautifully and looks great with just enough patina to show that it's used and enjoyed.

Should I say I love high-mileage cars?
Craig Bethune

'97 SL500, 40th anniversary edition

'04 Olds Bravada (SWMBO's)
'06 Lexus ES330
'89 560SL (sold)

SL--Anything else is just a Mercedes.
(Kudos to whoever said it first)
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Old 08-11-2003, 11:52 AM
G-Benz's Avatar
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Dallas/Fort-Worth
Posts: 5,711
There is always the mantra: "stay away from first-year production runs" MBs or anything else!

That's just common logic, as you expect design flaws and bugs to be most prevalent at that point, and steadily more reliable as the model matures.

From what I've experienced, this is a pretty reliable model overall. Parts (and labor) can be prohibitively expensive if something does go wrong), but little really does.

Ours is a pampered vehicle, and even bought used, come from owners who likewise did the same.
2009 ML350 (106K) - Family vehicle
2001 CLK430 Cabriolet (80K) - Wife's car
2005 BMW 645CI (138K) - My daily driver
2016 Mustang (32K) - Daughter's car
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Old 10-13-2003, 03:57 PM
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Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Fox Island, WA
Posts: 15
I have two SL's A 85 380 and a 90 500 SL. The 90 is the difference of night and day compaired to the 85. More creature conforts and a lot more power. I have no regrets in purchasing the 90. I wish I had purchased it sooner. I would recommend you purchase the 500 over the 300 simply because of the power. It appears that your SL is in perfect condition. You may want to keep it.

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Old 10-14-2003, 02:01 AM
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Join Date: May 2001
Location: Las Vegas, Atlanta
Posts: 669
I don't think there is any year to avoid in the 129 series, as they are all terrific. But I think you should make a point of comparing a 1996 or newer car with an older model. The newer cars have the 5-speed electronically controlled tranny which seems to make them considerably more refined. And if you do finally get an older car with the 4-speed tranny, consider getting a modification kit from Bergwerks to make the car start-out from rest in 1st gear instead of 2nd. Finally, unless you just can't do without the extra performance, don't overlook the six-cylinder 300SL and SL320 models.
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Old 10-14-2003, 01:10 PM
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: Southern California, U.S.A.
Posts: 8,538
Another good reason to get a 1996 or newer car is OBD-II.

All 1996 and newer cars in the U.S. are OBD-II equipped, which stores a heck of a lot more codes than OBD-I, and allows you to get "live" data.
Paul S.

2001 E430, Bourdeaux Red, Oyster interior.
79,200 miles.

1973 280SE 4.5, 170,000 miles. 568 Signal Red, Black MB Tex. "The Red Baron".
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Old 10-19-2003, 12:23 AM
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Join Date: May 2002
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Posts: 60
There's actually quite a bit of live data available on the LH cars as well ('93-'95). OBDII is a catch 22. There are a lot more things monitored to set codes, but more specific codes to facilitate diagnosis.

As with any Mercedes, the important thing is getting a good car. Service records will reveal the true attention paid by past owners as well as highlight recurring problems.

Check everything in the car. Make sure the top works well (even if it has the hard top on it). Same for A/C. Drive several cars, run them through the rev range and monitor how they pull and shift. It's worth having the car checked out for a couple hundred bucks including codes, leak test, etc.

My $0.02.
Principal, BergWerks
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Old 10-20-2003, 02:43 PM
Eddie Gilmartin's Avatar
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Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Posts: 183
'90 R129 500SL fantastic. But do not touch one with "ADS" suspension. Otherwise no complaints. Goes like stink, sticks like glue (on 235-40-18's).
'66 W100 600 SWB
'05 W463 G55K AMG
'91 W126 500SEL
'93 W463 300GDL
'84 W460 280GES
'83 W460 300GDL
'66 W111 220SEb Coupe
'58 W121 190
'58 W180 220S
Have previously owned '99 SL600, '99 ML320, '79 450SLC, '79 450SEL 6.9 x 2, '68 600, '91 190E 1.8, '90 190E 2.0, '85 190, '90 500SL, '92 500SEL, '97 E300Turbodiesel, '91 300D, '72 280S, '82 300D, '81 300SD, '85 230E, '56 220a and I'm sure I'm forgetting some.
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Old 10-31-2003, 03:42 PM
Registered User
Join Date: Oct 2002
Location: Texas
Posts: 303
MAKE SURE THAT A/C IS WORKING!! The early 90's cars ie: 140's, 124's and 129's have the dreaded evaporator leak problem. I just replaced mine and it took me 26 hrs to do. The dealer wanted $3000 to do it. It was a no-brainer decision that I had to do this myself. But I think that it was worth $3000 in labor if I had to charge someone for it. And my car has only 44k miles on it. It's an SL500 1994. Brillant green. Otherwise, "people risk their lives looking at this car while driving" - it's a head turner!

1978 280 CE silver
1986 560 SL black
1987 300 SDL cream
1994 SL 500 brilliant green
1997 E 300d dessert silver
2005 FORD F250 Superduty Crew cab 4x4

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