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  #1  
Old 09-16-2003, 11:52 AM
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Which SL should I buy ?

Hi

Just got the money to be able to afford my dream car MB SL

But which model ?

Iv'e got around 20K to spend or a bit less !

I'm thinking of a 1996 SL 280

Is there much difference pre/post 1996 ?

Is a 280 a lot different to 320 ?

Is 80,000 miles on a 96 worth buying ?

Any advice appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 09-16-2003, 01:22 PM
elau's Avatar
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I believe the 280 has a 4 cyclinder engine was not imported to the US.

The SL is much too heavy for a 4 pots and therefore not strongly recommended. You will never get the driving fun of this fantastic vehicle. You should at least look for a 320. You may be able to pick up an earlier year 300 for your budget as well.

The pre '95, or maybe '94 models did not come with engine diagnostic capability, and therefore harder to figure out what ailes the car. Do a search on the forum and you will find numerous mention of this feature.

Mileage is not generally a concern, it is the maintenance history that you should look at. Car with extremely low mileage as a garage queen is worse than a well cared for high miles.

As far as pre/1996 is concerned. I think it's all about preference. The car received a major upgrade in '96. Such changes included front facia, tail light covers, outside mirror housings, side vents, uni-coloured body, wheels, steering, A/C control unit, seats, door panels, engine and others I may have missed.

Check for tell tale signs of failed head gasket in the earlier models. Check the top mechanism to make sure it is operating properly and the seals for the tops has no water leak. Easiest way to find out is to drive the car into a car wash. Other thing you may want to check is the A/C unit. As these cars are getting up on age, some of the units may be failing or need re-charging.
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  #3  
Old 09-16-2003, 01:45 PM
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Hi,

SL280 and SL320 are both 6 cylinder cars.

I take it you are buying in the UK. These days prices are quite soft as compared to when I bought my SL 18 months ago.

20K should buy you a facelift car quite easily. The bumpers are not as aggresive as the older cars. The older car bumpers look a bit like the AMG kit. The tail lights have red indicators and clear indicators on the front.

I think it is more important to biy on condition than mileage and actual age. There are some very tatty cars about that look good in the Autotrader picture but when you see them they are very tired.

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  #4  
Old 09-16-2003, 04:18 PM
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Quote:
The pre '95, or maybe '94 models did not come with engine diagnostic capability
That's not strictly true. Pre 96 engine diagnostics are limited to engine faults codes (around 30 of them) and are accessible via a 9 pin connector or flashing LED. Sometime after 93, probably 95 (when the engine code changed), cars were fitted with a a semi OBDC complient diagnostic port which had 32 pins. This, as elau rightly mentions provides far more information and is not limited to soley the engine.

Better for when/if things go wrong Anyway, moving swiftly on.....

I have just bought my 500 in the last 6 months, but I didn't quite have the luxury of 20K so had to settle for a '93. Still, in my opinion there's no way you should even consider a 280! BTW - a 280 is a V6.

The SL280 weighs in at around 1740kg and has a 0-60 of nearly 10 seconds - now come on, 10 seconds is just, underpowered! (Hope I don't offend anyone - this is of course only my opinion)

Start at the 320. Take one for a drive - then test a 500. Oh yes. I couldn't believe the difference, the sound, the feeling the smooth and gracious handling. I too was completely set on the 320 until I started a 500 up and just listened

Oh, and fuel economy is very similar to the 320. Remember that economy is based on the power/weight ratio and a 500 is only 40kg heavier. I easily get 26mpg on a run and around 18-19 round town

I bought mine private - and from Autotrader. Had to travel a little, but I saved around 8k over what MB were charging. I figured that 8K would pay for a lot of problems should I have real bad luck!

DO NOT BUY THE FIRST ONE YOU SEE however tempting. I looked at 6 before the right one came along. There are some quite badly cared for cars around and you can spot them immediately - just use your noddle.

You will undoubtedly enjoy this car from the moment you step in, until the moment you step out. So happy hunting and if you want to know more, just get posting!

Lea
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Last edited by Learoy; 09-16-2003 at 04:55 PM.
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  #5  
Old 09-16-2003, 06:55 PM
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Thanks for clearing the 280 bit. I wrote that at work, and I confirmed with the Mecerdes Enthusiast that 280 is a V6.

Hope no one got hurt
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  #6  
Old 09-17-2003, 03:16 AM
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Mileage

Thanks for the Info guys

Would you consider 80,000 miles on a 96 FMBSH to be an acceptable buy ?
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  #7  
Old 09-17-2003, 06:05 PM
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Quote:
Mileage is not generally a concern, it is the maintenance history that you should look at. Car with extremely low mileage as a garage queen is worse than a well cared for high miles.
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  #8  
Old 09-18-2003, 04:52 AM
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280SL is a 4-valve per cylinder straight six until June 1998 when it was replaced with the 3-valve V-6. In both cases, the 280 is a lower capacity version of the 320; there are no mechanical differences between them other than the stroke.

The 280 is adequate for the R129. See Russell Bulgin's article Car in or about 1996 when he praised the vehicle.

However, there is little difference in running costs between 280, 320 and 500. Fuel consumption is almost identical across the range (the 500 has much higher gearing). Insurance is the same.

If anything, 500s tend to be cheaper to purchase than the six cylinder cars because people expect them to be more expensive to run. If I were in the market I would look for a 500. It is a strong and fast car.

Age and (to a lesser extent) mileage are unimportant in my view. The post-1996 styling tweaks are very minor and there is many a 1992 car that is much better than a 1997--look at Learoy's. Condition is all important. Shop around. Like Learoy I looked at about 5 or 6 cars, in Aberdeen, Newcastle, Hull, Leeds, Bolton and London and enquired about countless others before settling on a local car. Do research, there is a lot to know: an unmolested car is going to be better than one that has been tarted up, but you need to know what is original and what is not. You will find cars quite reasonably priced at MB dealers, use the internet search engine.

Bottom line: 20k is more than enough to get a very good SL. 80k miles is nothing on these cars (someone posts here with 350k+) provided they are well-maintained.

Good luck and don't be afraid to ask us about particular vehicles or queries.
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  #9  
Old 09-18-2003, 09:45 AM
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There are a couple of likely contenders in the dealer network presently:

1994/L 500SL in nautic blue over grey with 65k miles, 17k.
1996/? 500SL mille miglia, silver over black and red, 22k.
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  #10  
Old 09-19-2003, 03:15 AM
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Thanks

Many thanks Guys

Got 2 to look at this weekend, will let you know how I get on
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  #11  
Old 09-19-2003, 10:06 AM
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Quote:
280SL is a 4-valve per cylinder straight six until June 1998 when it was replaced with the 3-valve V-6. In both cases, the 280 is a lower capacity version of the 320; there are no mechanical differences between them other than the stroke.
uhm, there seems to be conflicting evidence! According to 'Mercedes Enthusiast' (my magazine source on this one) the 280 was introduced in '93 at the same time as the SL320 V6. There's no mention of a 129 280 (280SL) previous to this date and therefore no I6. Parkers say the SL280 was lauched in '98 V6 on one page and '93 on another!

Looking through the engine code list I cannot find a 129 engine number for a 280SL but a SL280 pops up in '94. Also my '92 sales brochure makes no mention of the 280 at all, only 300SL, 300SL-24, 500 and 600SL models.

Boy I'm
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  #12  
Old 09-20-2003, 04:24 AM
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Mercedes Enthusiast seems only to list the most recent incarnation of each model. When the model designations switched from xxxSL to SLxxx the 12v I6 300SL was replaced with the 24v I6 SL280 and the 24v I6 300SL-24 was replaced with the 24v I6 SL320. This would be about 1994. The 3v V6 was only produced from 1998. All very confusing. I will look in my ridiculously expensive but very comprehensive book Mercedes Opera Omnia when I get the chance, this has detailed statistics on every Mercedes.
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  #13  
Old 09-20-2003, 05:57 AM
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.
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  #14  
Old 09-20-2003, 08:30 AM
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This thread has wondered off track a little and probably isn't helping much now, sorry Tedski - but, JJ, please do look in your infinite book of wisdom and let us know what really happened and when.

uhm...perhaps I need this book too...

[Edit]

After reading my mag again, and in detail this time, the report on the SL clearly states that the original SL280 (along side the SL320) debuted in '93 and indeed was straight. And in '98 the straights were replaced by the V. But, the rear index detailing 'all' models fails to list the I6 280 at all - very sloppy!

Nice work JJ - should have known you'll shine some light on the matter.
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http://antron.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/i...nature/Sig.jpg

Last edited by Learoy; 09-20-2003 at 11:08 AM.
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  #15  
Old 09-20-2003, 07:34 PM
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Talking

Buy the best you can possibly afford, satisfy yourself. I couldn't rest until I found a 600 SL that was a bargain, I have no regrets about waiting until it came along, no regrets about passing on a 500-320----slk or whatever. I would have wondered about the 600 forever. High mileage car in great shape - somebody else obviously loved to drive it as much as I do. I drove several others at ridiculous prices that had lower miles, but this one is in AMG/sport trim in silver. No problems with oil leaks - I park this car on a carpet, I wish I had a palace for it. These cars (at least in the years I had a chance to testdrive 94-97) ride like buckboard wagons -- until (as I found out the expensive way) you replace the accumulators on the (ahem!) suspension system. Smooth thereafter. Now I await accumulation of enough money and loss of enough sense to get a 2004 - oh sure, that's gonna happen soon...........
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