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  #1  
Old 10-30-2002, 05:46 PM
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Question SL500 need advice !!

Hey guys, I havent been on here for a long time. Anyway, I am looking at a 1996 SL500 Roadster this weekend that I will most likely purchase, but was hoping to get some pro opinions and advice from you guys.

I am taking it to an authorized Mercedes shop for a full checkup and diagnostic. If it passes this then I am going for it, the price is more than right and I cant wait to get back in the MB fold.

Is there anything I should look for? Any common problems with this year and/or model? It has 33k miles on it, which I think is great. I have seen it and played with it, but will not get to drive it until this weekend, when I bring it up to the shop.

Any and all advice or opinions are welcome, thanx guys.
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  #2  
Old 10-30-2002, 06:30 PM
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Most of these cars were cream puffs to begin with when traded, and considering the income of the average owner who purchased one when new, probably well maintained. Factor in the low mileage, and the first owner would have gotten anything major repaired under warranty.

Although I can't speak for all R129 owners, I have found the R129 to be relatively trouble free. No engine related problems, and major repairs so far involved a couple of dash light bulbs, a fuel line hose clamp, and a broken armrest slider switch. That's probably less than $20 worth of parts.

The most complex part of the car is the hardtop/softtop operation, and the threads that have surfaced in the SL forum indicate that the front latches may cause problems. The part is costly, but it is a DIY process.

I have found the SL to be a breeze when it comes to gaining access to areas for repair, but if anything larger than a fuse goes bad, expect the part to be mucho $$$!

Case in point. In the process of removing the dash cluster to gain access to the bulbs, I cracked the clear lens. Trip to the dealer left me $327 lighter!!!

I suspect when more of these cars get long on the tooth (100K or more), we may start to see those horror-story threads about $3000 MAS this or $4000 ABS that! But for now, it seems like the R129s are pretty trouble-free.
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  #3  
Old 10-30-2002, 06:32 PM
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The only $$$ problem on those cars is the 722.6 transmission & the FACT that MB says they don't need fluid changes!! They do need regular service if you want long life from the transmission.
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  #4  
Old 10-30-2002, 06:40 PM
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Thanx guys!

MBDoc, the trannys have no problems right? As long as they are maintained?

Im really excited about the low mileage of the car, it was supposedly one owner, but I havent had a chance to do a car fax yet.
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  #5  
Old 10-31-2002, 09:45 AM
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Anyone else with SL experience? The carfax should be coming thru sometime this morning.
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  #6  
Old 10-31-2002, 11:05 AM
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Did you post this thread in the SL forum?
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  #7  
Old 10-31-2002, 01:46 PM
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Hi Spinedoc-

These are terrific cars and are bargain priced right now!

The hardtop/softtop operation can be a problem on these cars so have this checked. Also the climate control systems are expensive to repair.

All in all these cars are fantastic.

Best of luck to you. I love my 129!
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  #8  
Old 10-31-2002, 04:16 PM
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My Dad has a 1979 450SL, and is seriously considering an R129 SL500 since the prices have fallen like stones since the R230 came out. There are SO many nice traded SL's, this is a super time to buy.

He's being doing tons of homework on the cars, and talked to as many owners as possible.

Things he's gleamed:

The SL500 and 320 use the "tried, tested, and true" drivelines from other MB products, so there is no "unique" engine problems or anything like that. The M119 5.0L is bulletproof, and nothing seems to go wrong with it.

He talked to a high percentage of owners with AC problems, and the fixes were costly. But, once repaired, they seemed to hang on longer than from the factory.

It seems just about everyone had some minor soft-top problems, but nothing serious when considering the complexity of the thing.

Brake pads/rotors were REALLY short lived, nothing new for an MB, but I guess the high weight of the car means more brake wear.

Overall, all owners seemed really impressed. Most said they were trading for the R230. Not that they wanted rid of their car, but they liked the new look, and the integral hard top was a big selling point.

TO a person the thing they liked least were the dealers... (nothing new in these parts1)
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  #9  
Old 10-31-2002, 07:01 PM
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Hey spinedoc, why noy save yourself the hassles and just find yourself a nice Starmark 129? They're all over the place! In any case, make sure to inspect the soft-top canvas for pulled stitching and wear. Also check the rear windows. If they're hazy don't try to clean them yourself! Let a dealer handle it. They have all the right stuff to make it look nice again. Also look at the door glass closely. Small bits of sand and dirt cause unsightly vertical scratches that you'll only see if you look closely. Get a CARFAX from the seller for some added peace of mind. The items I've mentioned may seem trivial now, but after awhile they'll bug you. Good luck
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  #10  
Old 11-01-2002, 06:24 AM
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Well turns out it was too good to be true. The seller balked at me taking it to a dealer and I had a bad feeling in my gut so I walked away. It was certainly too good to be true with an asking price of 22500. We also saw that it had been hit on the drivers side bumper, the hood did not line up, and it had been repainted. No frame damage, but the weird thing was that one of the blades on the fanblade was missing a big chunk, weird. The shroud was intact and all the screws lined up on the engine compartment body.

Im currently looking at a 1990 300SL. Im a little dissapointed in not having the V8. Any opinions on the 300SL's? Are they fairly quick? Worth the money? The one I am looking at is in great condition, 60k miles and is thru a dealer friend at $17,900. The one thing Im afraid of is how the 3.0 engine will pull 4k lbs of weight.

For my money what do you guys think I should look at? Iwould like a somewhat fast, sporty feel. I have about 20k to spend.

Thanx much!
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  #11  
Old 11-01-2002, 07:44 AM
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Personally, I would pick the in-line six over a v8 any day of the week. Based on my experience with the '95 E320 the in-line six is plenty fast enough to get you into trouble and I consider them a whole lot easier to work on than any v8. Just my opinion.
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  #12  
Old 11-01-2002, 08:08 AM
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Im hoping it will be fast enough for me. I currently have a 3.0 car with 188horsepower and 3200lb. weight, it is very peppy and nice off the line for a front wheel drive. Im hoping that the extra 40 horses in the 300SL balance out the extra 1000 lbs.

I would also like to put a chip in their, superchips lists one for 239 euro. Anyone know if this is a DIY job?


Thanx much.
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  #13  
Old 11-01-2002, 09:20 AM
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The 1990 thru 1993 300SL's were sluggish & had a few problems all their own. I would suggest a 1994 OR later SL320 instead!
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  #14  
Old 11-01-2002, 12:23 PM
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Unhappy

Sigh. For my money I just dont see getting a decent SL500, and the 300/320 does not seem worth it. Im starting to veer towards a nice corvette convertible, for the same money I can get a 96 or even better at the auction.

I will keep looking though, maybe a 500SL will drop into my lap! Although I doubt it, lol.
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  #15  
Old 11-01-2002, 07:04 PM
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M.B. Doc is giving you good advice! The 104 LH-SFI package was MB's first attempt at four valve per cylinder engine design. The timing chain set-up also uses an idler gear between the two cam sprockets, resulting in a noisier engine. There's no resonance intake manifold which makes the 94' thru 98' sixes a lot more fun to drive. And don't forget, this was the first year of production for the 129! I spent the early 90's fixing water leaks on these things! Find a 94' like Doc said even if it needs a bit of work. You'll enjoy the car a lot more. Good luck
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