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  #1  
Old 11-04-2003, 12:09 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: MA, USA
Posts: 190
Considering used SL purchase

Hi,
I am considering getting a used 129 series SL.
I am thinking about the SL320 for fuel economy sake...

Can anyone give me advice on what I should watch out for? What years should I avoid?

Is this a relatively problem free car / series to get?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 11-04-2003, 02:34 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2003
Location: UK - South East Coast
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I've recently bought a 500SL and have asked many questions here too. Why not have a search on my name first as there's much talk on fuel economy for the 320 v's 500.

My conclusion was that the increase of around 5-10% was well worth it and now owning one I'm glad to say it was definitely the right choice.


Lea
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'89 190E 2.6 - sold in 2002

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  #3  
Old 11-04-2003, 03:45 AM
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Location: Northumberland, UK
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I've never regretted going for a 500: the fuel economy is no worse than my previous C240 believe it or not and the prices on the used market are often the same as or lower than equivalent 320s because of perceptions about fuel economy and insurance. The 500 has much higher gearing and the engine does not have to work very hard to drag around what is a very heavy car. There is often more kit on a 500, too.

My only advice is: take a great deal of time to look at as many cars as possible. These cars are very well built, probably the best ever Mercedes-Benz, development having started in the 1970s (there were spy shots in some 1979 car magazines!) the car not being deemed ready until 1989. As far as I am aware there are no dud years, although if you do your own maintenance, electronic diagnostics were enhanced at some stage.

There is a very thorough discussion which you will find on a search of Learoy's name. Good luck. Now's the time to buy, too, as winter approaches.
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1999 SL 500
1993 320 TE
1986 500 SEC
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  #4  
Old 11-04-2003, 10:30 AM
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You guys are providing me real motivation to swing over to the 500.... I will do some looking this weekend!!
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  #5  
Old 11-04-2003, 06:04 PM
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Location: Dallas, Tx
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I like my 320 because I can work on it myself. The engine is simple and the space under the hood is roomy to get around in. Although I really wanted a 500, I think I chose the right car for me because being able to repair it myself is a benefit to my wallet. It is tight under the hood of a 500!
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  #6  
Old 11-04-2003, 09:42 PM
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I own a 1991 300 SL. Fuel use is about 20 mpg 75% city, 25% freeway. On a long freeway trip I can get almost 26 mpg. I don't think the 500 SL does all that much worse. I like to work on the car myself and there is ample working room under the hood. The 300 SL has a 5 speed automatic as opposed to a 4 speed on the 500SL. Using all 5 gears, the 300SL is still about 2 seconds slower 0-60 than a 500 SL. But once you get the revs up, the 300SL is very responsive and pulls hard. The 300SL spins up to 6500 rpm's quickly and effortlessly. It's a lot of fun to drive. When looking at any older 129, open the doors, get down on the ground and look up at the underside of the door panel where the rubber weather seal is located. This is the only known place where this chassis rusts pre-maturely.
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  #7  
Old 11-04-2003, 10:25 PM
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I don't think you can go wrong either way - I'd just go for the best car / price you can find. I think the quality of the V8s is more consistent over the 90s - there really isn't a bad year. The sixes are a different story. The 94-95s had the wiring harness / head gasket problems. Once the wiring harness has been replaced it should be fine. You can't really say the same thing about the head gasket - it's a congenital weakness on the car. No such problem on the 500s. I think stay away from the 300s - just not a well regarded Mercedes engine. There is a letter to the editor in the latest issue of Mercedes Classic (British) on this - they refer to it as cobbed together to keep up the BMW 4 valves of the era. They tend to burn oil. I had a 1990 that needed a valve job at 40k. The magazine goes on to say that the problems were worked out for the 3.2. I think the 3.2 is a good engine but it's cast iron block and alloy head and there's no gasket material in the world that will make it as durable as the 500 which is alloy / alloy.
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  #8  
Old 11-05-2003, 12:00 AM
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I am salivating thinking about this now!
Geez - you guys are HUGE fans of this car!
Totally motivates me to become an enthusiast....
Internet forums are an amazing thing...
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  #9  
Old 11-05-2003, 09:13 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by deanyel
I think stay away from the 300s - just not a well regarded Mercedes engine. There is a letter to the editor in the latest issue of Mercedes Classic (British) on this - they refer to it as cobbed together to keep up the BMW 4 valves of the era.
I've heard this, too. It applies only to the 300SL-24, not the 300SL, which has the excellent 12valve 6 cylinder.
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  #10  
Old 11-05-2003, 06:29 PM
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Agree - the 2 valve is a great engine, but we didn't get them in the 129 body in the U.S. - very unfortunate.
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  #11  
Old 11-05-2003, 06:38 PM
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I'd go for a 1996. That's when they changed to solid state ignition. Distributor caps and leads are a bugger!
I love that blue they ran in the r129, w124, w126.
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