Prospective R129 500SL / Merc newbie seeks advice / sanity check

anonymoose

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Hi chaps

Nice forum you have here. I'm currently giving serious thought to the idea of picking up an R129 SL a little later in the year. I'm on a pretty tight budget, but I can't help noticing that these cars have apparently hit rock bottom in terms of values. It's insane to see such a superb vehicle worth so little.

Having done a little research, I've narrowed it down to an early 500, ideally pre '93. Partly that's a budget thing but I'm also aware of problems with the wiring harness / loom on the 93-95 cars. Having said that, a lot of the cheaper 500s for sale right now are 93 and 94 cars. Anyway...

A reasonable supply of superficially decent examples seems to pass through the usual websites in the £5-6k range. I'm hoping for some insight into whether it's possible to buy something reasonably sound in that price and whether it's insanity to even consider running one on a tight budget? I won't be doing many miles / commuting in it and can do a certain amount of low key spannering myself. I'm also a pretty serious car enthusiasts, so I'm willing to make some sacrifices. But there are sacrifices and then there's taking on more than you can cope with. Anyway, any thoughts / experiences appreciated.

Thanks!
 

grober

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Insurance group 20! + 6K service interval. Expect mpg's in the low 20's. Make sure all the soft top/auto roll bar electrics work/are in good nick, They come as standard with a heavy hard top[ 2 man job or hoist to remove] and are often presented for sale with it in place- this makes testing/examination of the soft top impossible. Its these unique parts of the car that often cost a lot to repair replace- a new hydraulic pump for the folding top/roll bar priced at >£2,000 as an example.
 

EDZ649

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Insurance group 20! + 6K service interval. Expect mpg's in the low 20's. Make sure all the soft top/auto roll bar electrics work/are in good nick, They come as standard with a heavy hard top[ 2 man job or hoist to remove] and are often presented for sale with it in place- this makes testing/examination of the soft top impossible. Its these unique parts of the car that often cost a lot to repair replace- a new hydraulic pump for the folding top/roll bar priced at >£2,000 as an example.

Agreed, but you can pick up good secondhand pumps from as little as £150 so not a deal breaker:)
 

janner

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Much as I love the SL500, for your budget I wouldn't rule out a nice, late SL320. The wiring loom was sorted in 1996 and SL320s are looking really cheap these days. If you can stretch to it financially you should be looking at SL500s after the 1996 facelift (more kit as standard). As already stated a perfectly working soft top is essential.
Edit..
Another SL320 on ebay
 
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anonymoose

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Yes, I've checked the insurance and it's not too bad as I'm over 30. Fuel consumption not much of an issue. I don't do many miles and I only get about 20mpg with my current ride, anyway.

Will indeed make sure I've seen the soft top go up and down three or four times before any purchase. Re the facelift, it's a personal opinion obviously, but for me MB spoiled the look of the car a bit. I don't think the bumpers or the interior seat / door car design of the facelift was an improvement. I much prefer the look of the original R129.

But re the original post, do we think those cheapish £5-6k 500s are all dogs or have even decent examples fallen that low?
 

Oily Rag

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I own a 95 SL500, and in my opinion you have made a decent choice opting for this model. The only niggle I have is, Unless you go for a drive with the soft-top on and you want to put the roof down, you are lumbered with the hard-top and no convertible. I have the pleasure of driving my car almost every day, so when it looks like there may be 10 minutes of sun in the 16 hours of daylight we get, ditch the hard-top before you venture out. Other than that, I have been steered the right way every time I have asked a question on this forum, and believe the wealth of information and help you will recieve on this or any other subject, is second to none. Happy Motoring. :thumb:

p.s. I can sqeeze almost 25mpg out of mine, and thats combined driving too.!!!!!!!!!!!;)
 

BTB 500

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I've had 29 mpg from mine over a tankful, with a lot of motorway cruising. But low to mid 20s is more normal.

Remember the '96 facelift was not just cosmetic - it got the 5 speed gearbox as standard.

The R129's standard hard top is not really that heavy, but it's an awkward shape and certainly needs two people to fit/remove (or a hoist). The panoramic top is heavier though (more glass, less aluminium).

I would look at some early cars and see what you think. Bear in mind that if a fault hasn't been fixed by the seller it's likely to be because it's an expensive job!
 

janner

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Remember the '96 facelift was not just cosmetic - it got the 5 speed gearbox as standard.
Yes, and improved engine management (no distributors), plus side airbags, rain sensing wiper, digital climate, ASR etc.

But, if you don't like the facelift you don't like it. There's nothing wrong with the 1990-1993 cars and I'm sure you'll eventually buy a nice one for under £6K if you look at a few. Many R129s were bought as second or third cars so there are plenty of low mileage ones around.

One other thing to check is the aircon since it can be expensive to fix.
 

BTB 500

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You could always stick orange front indicators and repeaters on a post '96 car :D
 
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anonymoose

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Yup, I'm not worried about gadgets or improved climate control or any of that jazz. The upgraded engine management post 96 sounds desirable, but I really don't like the facelift bumpers or interior, so I guess I'll have to live with it.

And yes, I like the amber indicators - but not with the facelift body parts :p

What's people's experience regards seasonal availability with these cars? Are there more up for sale in the summer months than the rest of the year?
 

BTB 500

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This is the 500SL that made me buy an R129



It used to park at the end of my road, and I walked past it on the way to work every day.

Note the clear indicators though :D
 
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anonymoose

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Lovely indeed. Clear indies an easy upgrade if need be ;)

Fingers crossed the market doesn't wake up to how undervalued these cars are before I'm ready to buy later this year!
 

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