SL55 AMG - a summary of information

jjcodex

Active Member
Joined
Nov 30, 2008
Messages
181
Location
Exeter
Car
S350 W222 SL55 AMG
Hey folks. I have finally taken the plunge and acquired an SL55 AMG.

Along the way I reckon I have read the vast majority of what there has been written about these cars (and there has been rather a lot!). I have read bold claims and more modest claims, and I have seen good videos, and rather less good videos as well! It occurred to me that what the world needed was a single place to look for any useful information for buyers, fans and owners of these cars alike. To that end, I have taken the time to summarise much of what I have learnt below. Feel free to use it as you see fit, or simply ignore if your life was complete prior to opening this link!


Contents

Section 1 – A selection of Buyers guides and journalistic reports
Section 2 – A History of Power Claims
Section 3 – Performance figures
Section 4 – Model History
Section 5 – A word on tax (VED)
Section 6 – The options list
Section 7 – Some manuals and brochures in PDF format (links)
Section 8 – You haven’t mentioned the “F1 Pack!”
Section 9 – The issues – or if it ain’t broke, it will be!
Section 10 – The fabulous thread providing links to “how-to” guides for R230s
Section 11 – The even more fabulous free online Workshop manuals.
Section 12 – The Bluetooth and music dilemma


1 – A selection of Buyers guides and journalistic reports

Start here – these are written by professionals, and not by me! There are several, and most say similar things. I have tried to keep the most succinct at the top, and some briefer ones below them.

Evo (Nov 07)

http://www.evo.co.uk/buying-advice/14019/mercedes-benz-sl55-amg-checkpoints

This one was written in November 2007. At this stage, the car was pretty well at the end of its production run, though bear in mind that a full ten years has passed since then. Even so, the advice is useful and it makes for an interesting read. The price information is out of date but generally the info is otherwise accurate.

Pistonheads (Mar 12)

https://www.pistonheads.com/features/ph-buying-guides/ph-buying-guide-mercedes-sl55-amg/25445

A comprehensive guide and an interesting read! Nothing less than you would expect for an enthusiast website. That said, the power figures a not quite on the money – refer below for more info!

Autocar (Feb 14)

https://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/deals/mercedes-benz-amg-used-buying-guide-and-gallery

Part of an AMG buyers guide and dated Feb 2014. Short and sweet but also allows you to reminisce about some of the other AMG cars through time!


Some selected others:

Exotic Car Hacks – undated but an American point of view - http://www.exoticcarhacks.com/car-reviews/mercedes-benz-sl55-amg-r230-buyers-guide/

Parkers review Jan 2014 - http://www.parkers.co.uk/mercedes-benz/sl-class/amg/review/

Autoexpress - http://www.autoexpress.co.uk/car-reviews/14981/mercedes-sl55-amg

Road and Track (US) - http://www.roadandtrack.com/new-cars/first-drives/reviews/a9501/mercedes-benz-sl55-amg/

The truth about cars (Feb 2003) - http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2003/02/mercedes-sl55-amg/

There are many others, but the above typically float to the top of the pile


2. The history of the power claims

Well this is where it gets interesting. When the car was first launched, Mercedes claimed a BHP figure of 476bhp, and 700Nm of torque.

This figure was revised upwards to 493BHP (500ps) in around 2004/05, though curiously the torque remained the same at 700Nm.

The above will be of absolutely no surprise to anybody who has spent a little time researching these cars. It transpired that MB were a little conservative with their initial power claims. Cynically it may be argued that this was to assist them in providing market separation from the SL600 which curiously also has 500BHP.

Even so, somebody cried foul and the TUV stepped in and tested several cars finding them all to be closer to the 500BHP that was later claimed. This was simply because MB were required to make their claims more reliable (or so it goes). Given that the torque remains the same, and the engine remains the same, it feels rather believable to me. Moreover, the performance claims remain unchanged for both cars so I think it is fair to say that this can be considered ratified by circumstantial evidence.

I read a fascinating article (EVO Magazine 060 dated Oct 2003) suggesting that it was allegedly Gordan Murray the (designer of the SLR) that ratted Merc out on this when he realised that the performance times did not match the power claimed. His primary motivation was to ensure that his engine for the SLR was suitably more powerful than the SLs version (somewhat understandably given the additional ticket price of the SLR!). I cannot verify, but it is a great anecdote.

In 2007 the car did receive the official facelift, and as part of this, the power was increased to 509bhp (517ps which is often mis-quoted as the BHP), with Torque rising to 720Nm. The difference in my experience is not realistically noticeable. But then what would you expect with an increase of power in the order of 3%!

So in summary, actual power from 2002-2006 is 493bhp and 700Nm Torque, and 2007-08 is 509bhp and 720Nm of torque. Simples


3 - Performance figures

There are so many varying claims to these cars acceleration, and given that none are new anymore it is difficult to become too emotional about this particular subject. Suffice to say that the 0-60 claims tend to be in the order of 4.5 secs (with the 0-62mph typically 4.7). The top speed was limited to 155mph unless you paid MB/ AMG large wads of cash. In these circumstances, the limiter was increased to 186mph. Why this figure? Well this was the maximum rating for tyres of the day given the overall weight of the car. A funny figure you think? Well when converted to kph it is exactly 300kph! This I suspect is more pleasing to the eye!

So how fast is it? Well EVO group tested the car (edition number 070 dated August 2004) and it was put against an Aston Martin DB9, a 996TT, and a Bentley Continental GT. In this test, it hit 60 in 4.6sec, 100 in 10.2, 120 in 14.2, and 140 in 20.3! Incidentally, it was the quickest of the lot to 140mph (with the 911 turbo only .6 behind at 20.9, and the DB9 at 23.1), though the 911tt remained ahead until 120mph! Both the Aston and the Bentley started behind and stayed there!

So far as the top speed is concerned, a rumour has been propagated by many including MB that the car will hit 203mph if fully derestricted. I have no verification of this fact. A quick search of youtube will find several top speed runs from various “test pilots”. I have not really got the time to link those for you, and they are not remotely scientific! A couple reach the hallowed 200mph on the indicator, though I note that several appear to run into the laws of physics at just above 190mph. I leave that thought with you for consideration.

A German car magazine has also apparently tested the car hitting above 200mph as well though this was not referenced. That said, if you compare the power and torque to other cars with similar power claims, the claim is not totally unrealistic.

I will say that I have also seen a table comparing the Aston Vanquish, the 550 Maranello, The Lambo Murcielago, and the 996 GT2 to the SL55. The results are controversial and have been left out of this site.

Can I end on a real positive? If I may draw your attention to a website known as www.fastestlaps.com . For those that don’t know it, it is great at compiling and comparing various performance cars, and has a very big database. There are occasional debates as to the accuracy of the figures, but in my experience they are pretty good.

Using the “compare tool”, compare the Mercedes SL55 AMG (517) (which is the facelift version but had generally better quality data) to the 2012 SL63 AMG. This is the first of the bi-turbo versions. You may find yourself a little surprised about the acceleration performance difference.

Not convinced? Also then try comparing it to the new C63 AMG S Convertible that was launched in 2017!

Purely from an accelerative point of view (and disregarding numerous other improvements that have been made!), the SL55 holds up well against modern equivalents.
 
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jjcodex

jjcodex

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Messages
181
Location
Exeter
Car
S350 W222 SL55 AMG
4 - Model History

There is one official facelift for the car, and one unofficial upgrade which in some ways was equally significant. The below is far from exhaustive, and I welcome input from others and I will edit to complete it. Even so, the below should assist with some of the useful notes. I have the below information as I owned an SL350 on an 04 plate immediately prior to my current 05 SL55AMG so I can compare certain bits directly

The model history

2002 – 2004 (around mid 04)
The original release version.
CD based nav system (updated discs no longer available)
Aux jack in the glovebox
Main windows go down with roof operation
Keyless go as card as well as key
No UHI for the phone
Earlier D2B based fibre optics make some upgrades tricky
Luggage straps to the rear of the seats are still standard
Hot or cold output switch still present for centre vents
Manual steering buttons only operable in “M” mode (unverified)

2004 – 2006 (The first change)
Nav upgraded to DVD
Above includes ability to play DVD moview
Comand can also now play MP3s on main unit from either CD or DVD
UHI now an option for the Comand and common (allows Bluetooth upgrade via module)
Fibre optic is now MOST system
Luggage straps now an option (as evidenced by my 2005 version which does not have them)
Steering buttons now operate in any gearbox mode, though note that the car will still auto-change up unless you are in “M” mode
Keyless go now only key.
Power figure now honest!
Hot and cold button removed for central vents
Main windows now remain closed during roof operation


2007 – 2008 (the official facelift)
Power increased to 509bhp and 720Nm
Alloy wheels different as is front bumper and grille
Steering wheel now incorporates paddles as opposed to buttons
I am advised that CD changer can now play mp3 (unverified)


5 - A word on tax (VED)

A point worth making for my friends in the UK – any SL55 that is registered prior to April 2006 will fall into the lower VED bracket leaving the annual tax bill at the time of writing was £295. This is because when they were produced, the highest band was “K”. The new band of “L” was introduced in April 2006, and then any car registered after this point in the SL55 range attracts the rather higher VED rate of £500. This should not be a big deal if you are proposing to run one of these cars, but for me it helped me steer to my eventual purchase of a 2005 model.


6 - The options list

I wont list them all, but if you want to see brochures then the check out the relevant section below


Some key information on what was standard, and what was optional. I am not the brochure, but there are certain items to keep an eye out for to make sure you get your perfect match.


STANDARD

Exterior

AMG Body kit (duh!)
18” AMG Turbine alloys (or the 5 spoke non split rim version)
ABC Suspension
Xenon headlights (I think!)
AMG 8 pot front brakes and 4 pot rears

Interior and comfort
Leather seats and leather on the dash (not to be confused with the Nappa Designio range)
Electric massage seats with heating
Button shift on wheel (paddles on facelift)
Comand navigation system (see above for types)
Bose upgraded audio (yep this was standard!)
Alcantara around binnacle and 200mph instrument
Aluminium interior trim with Carbon-look introduced to later models as option
Self dimming rear view mirror pack

SELECTED OPTIONS

Keyless Go
Panoramic roof (don’t be fooled by “vario-roof” – this is a reference to the convertible element which they all have!
Climate pack seats (ie ventilated seats)
Parktronic system
Upgraded leather
Upgraded alloys
The performance pack (more later on this!)
Distronic radar cruise control (again – don’t be fooled by references to “Speedtronic” which is basically standard cruise control!)
TV Tuner (mostly analogue on the earlier cars, so don’t get too excited!)
Tyre pressure monitoring
Garage door opener in rear view mirror
Universal Handset Interface (UHI) – or phone interface in central console (2004 onwards only)

People will refer to “must-have” options, but the reality is that the car was phenomenally well equipped as standard, so it just comes down to personal preference. For a more comprehensive list, please do take time to peruse the PDF documents linked in the next section…
 
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jjcodex

jjcodex

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Messages
181
Location
Exeter
Car
S350 W222 SL55 AMG
7 - Some manuals in pdf form

The good old MB USA come to the rescue here. Some of the features are not Euro spec, so don’t be disappointed. Even so:


2003 model year manual - https://www.mbusa.com/vcm/MB/DigitalAssets/pdfmb/ownersmanual/2003_sl500_sl55amg.pdf

2005 User manual
https://www.mbusa.com/vcm/MB/DigitalAssets/pdfmb/ownersmanual/2005_sl500_sl600_sl5565amg.pdf

2005 Comand manual
https://www.mbusa.com/vcm/MB/DigitalAssets/pdfmb/comandmanual/2005/MY05-SL.pdf

Different year? Then seek out from this page:
https://www.mbusa.com/mercedes/service_and_parts/owners_manuals#!year=2005&class=SL-Class

Sales brochures – covers whole range of SLs

2003 - https://ragtop.org/mbbrochures/2004/sl_ebrochure.pdf (US version)
2006 - https://ragtop.org/mbbrochures/2006/canada/2006_SL_en.pdf (canada version - this is the pre-facelift version but post 2004 upgrades)
2006 - https://ragtop.org/mbbrochures/2006/int-sl.pdf (this one is the international version and covers the facelift version!)

The above should help you if you have lost your manuals!


8 - You haven’t mentioned the “F1 Pack”

Ah the much hailed performance pack! Well lets get this one cracked out shall we?!

The Performance pack was code 030 on the MB system. It has been regularly referred to as the F1 Pace Car edition. Truthfully I cannot find any real evidence of this car actually existing as a separate model, though in truth it may well do as a very rare car.

In reality, the cars that you see advertised as the F1 pace car edition are from my experience a standard SL55 but with the factory option 030 Performance Package. Please do not misunderstand – the above is not to be sniffed at, but the difference is more like that between say a 911 Turbo and a Turbo S, as opposed to a 911 Turbo and a GT2 say. Those cars with an “F1” badge on the back were most likely not like that when they left the production line!

To that end, the Performance package provided the following key upgrades:

1. Limited Slip Differential
2. SL65 front bumper (easily identified by the extra vents in front of the front wheels to the sides)
3. 19” split rim allows (again – SL65 items)
4. Software change for the ABC as modelled at the Nürburgring
5. Bigger composite brake discs (though I believe that the callipers and pads remain same)
6. Uprated oil cooler
7. Top speed limiter raised to the 186mph

The performance package does not include a power uplift so far as I am aware.

The above options came at a fairly hefty premium back in the day of around £8,500, and the second hand value continues to reflect a significant uplift for the Performance Pack version of the car. If you are going to spend dosh on these, then bear in mind that the look was very very popular, and there are a good number of standard cars with the cosmetic appearance matching the true performance pack edition. To that end, I highly recommend that you obtain the chassis number from the car, and use a VIN checker tool such as the below…

https://www.vindecoderz.com/

It works well, but disregard any mention of mileage as it is nonsense.

Seek out the “030 – Performance Package” option and buy well my friend.

Lets talk about the Performance pack Brakes for a moment
Hold on there, tiger! Just before you dive in and spend that extra few grand on a performance pack edition read on. Somewhat against the grain, I actually avoided the above. This was not financially based either!

I don’t mind admitting that for me the biggest attraction of the F1 edition by a country mile was the limited slip differential. This car should have had one as standard but hey ho! The styling is subjective, but I like the car in both guises.

The thing that stopped me in my tracks was the brake “upgrade”. The items in question are from the SL65 (which you will notice also provided most of the other bits making up the kit). The discs are extraordinarily expensive!

Let me put this into perspective for you. A pair of discs for the SL55AMG standard car from Eurocar parts is £203.98 including VAT for Brembo. The same discs for the Performance pack edition are £2,329.98! (£1,164.99 X 2)! Don’t believe me? Look it up for yourself!

Lets put this into perspective. These brakes are not Ceramic, and therefore they wear like other steel brakes. They are expensive because they are rare, and also because they are composite, as opposed to a single pressed steel, and therefore more expensive to manufacture.

I have done many track days in many cars, and warping discs will on occasion happen (particularly if running around in heavier road cars!). My current SL55 has not seen a track (at least not with me) but I used to run to the Nürburgring about twice a year with a pal (he had an SL55, and I had a 996TT at the time). The discs would occasionally warp on both cars, though truthfully moreso on the SL than on the 911. Whilst I would love to claim superior talent, invariably the weight difference was the more likely culprit combined with perhaps our less than F1-esque driving styles.

My pal however didn’t care because for less than £500 including pads and labour he would have a complete fresh set of Discs and pads across the front axle and he was off again!

That same operation on the Performance pack edition is closer to £3k, and candidly that is enough to perhaps put a bit of a downer on the day. So much so that I looked at a couple and simply couldn’t face the possibility of spanking that much money into brakes – particularly when you add other reasons for failure in such as cracking around the drilled holes, corrosion to the unseen sides, and good old fashioned wear!

The above is simply my take, and others will not have an issue with this. At least having read this you will go in with your eyes open, and I have no doubt at all that you will be checking the condition of those brakes very carefully before buying! In which case, my work is done!!!
 
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jjcodex

jjcodex

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Messages
181
Location
Exeter
Car
S350 W222 SL55 AMG
9 - The things to be aware of (or – if it ain’t broke, it will be!)
Oh where to begin! These cars are not cheap to run, and the things that can go wrong, can go wrong big! I will not attempt to summarise all faults as I simply don’t have the experience. Even so, I collated what I called my “list of things to worry about” when weighing up the various cars I viewed. They are generally in the order of likelihood to cause issues based on what I have read and seen

The roof seals – Constantly causing issues, and have been updated numerous times! Check out the bottom of the boot, under all the carpets down to the metal. If it is wet, probably seals. Ideally look for one where they have been done as the cost from MB to replace them is in the order of £3,000! Best solution? Keep the car in the garage, and don’t use it when it rains! Otherwise, spend a little time ensuring that your rubbers are regularly treated, and that you keep your drain holes clear. Also ideally aim for a car that has the most up to date seals possible.

The Suspension – it is hydraulic and the majority of issues relate to leaks. The ABC pump is expensive if it goes wrong, as are the shock absorbers. If you do get a leak, the general rule is stop as soon as it is safe to do so, and get it fixed, as running the pump dry of fluid tends to cause expensive damage. Check carefully or set aside some dough in due course. There is some notional evidence that regular changing of the fluid can aid this palliatively, though I cannot verify.

The SBC Brakes – The pump itself had a couple of recalls so if it is an earlier car, try to establish whether done. If not, check it works without the light coming on. As I understand it, the pump has a finite life and if it reaches its design life, it will throw a fault code which should lead to the replacement of the pump – not cheap.

The water pump on the supercharger – I got caught with this and thought my car had died! Symptoms – heat soak – or put another way, you put your foot down and after the first time, the supercharger behaves like it had the belt cut! What actually is happening is that the supercharger has a separate water pump and it fails – often! This leads the ECU to reading a temp spike and it cuts off the supercharger until it cools.

The good news is that the replacement pump is cheap (Ebay land for a Bosch is around £110, though I opted for a genuine exchange part from MB in 2017 for the princely sum of £130 exc VAT and fitting. The fitting is simple so I paid somebody else to do it! Total bill to me was £260 – I can live with that on one of these!

Rear arches corrosion on earlier models - have a good look and see if there are any early signs of trouble

Rear dampers to boot – cheap one to fix, and annoying. It took me all of 1 minute a side to change them so don’t put up with a saggy boot! The parts from Merc were in the order of £40 each.

Gear knob won't move – caused by a cheapo plastic selector thingy in the box. Expensive for a replacement from Merc as they replace much of the selector mech. I am told there are cheaper fixes, but happily to date I have not needed to know.

Fly-by-wire – or not if it isn’t working. Problem is obvious as your accelerator will yield no performance.

Electric Windows – Particularly the small rear ones. They get slow. Check them carefully.

Electric everything else! – no excuses folks – these cars have lots of electrical goodies – make sure you check ‘em all before buying

A little surface rust on the rear lower edge of rear screen (under rubber). Common and not serious usually. Best thing to do is to apply rust inhibitor and a little black paint. This is the seal between the rear window and the boot lid.

You will notice that I have not made reference to the “collapsing roof” thing. So far as I am concerned this is greatly overstated. Please hope with me that I am not tempting fate!

10 – The fabulous other link to useful how-to guides and the like
This feels like the right one to end on. If you need to roll your sleeves up and get “dirty” then start with the below:

http://www.benzworld.org/forums/r230-sl-class/1649520-r230-knowledge-base-links.html

This is a sticky thread of links to various how-to guides for R230 known problems. It may help if you have finished giving your money to our friends at MB


11 – Workshop manuals online for free!
They are clunky and not terribly user friendly, but my god it can be invaluable! And it is free”

http://workshop-manuals.com/mercedesbenz/

They are present for many models and the pre- and post facelift SL55 are both there amongst others. Worth a look if you are struggling with something.

Enjoy!

12 – The Bluetooth and music dilemma

Make a decision now. Which is more important? The ability to play music from your phone, or the ability to make and receive calls?

Pre-2004 car (CD Nav)
If you opted for the former, then you are better served in standard form by the 2004 and earlier car. Why? Because this car had a 3.5” jack in the glove box. Simply put, all you need is a long headphone lead, and you can plug your phone or any other audio source directly into your car and play! Happy days! It is not the perfect solution as you will still need to use your phone to control the music, though the volume control will be provided by the radio and steering wheel.

Alas, it is not all one-way traffic and the earlier edition has pretty well zero options for Bluetooth phone support. Easiest way to resolve this is to simply install an independent parrot system and move on with life.

Post 2004 car (DVD Nav)
Okay, for music this gets a little trickier! We are now on the newer fibre optic system. This brought mostly improvement, but a couple of backward steps.

Step 1 in the wrong direction was the omission of the 3.5” jack. This was tragic in my view as it makes listening to third party audio sources a pain the backside! That said, you can take solace that you can put an awful lot of songs on a DVD disc in MP3 format and that will keep you going for a good long time!

In the right direction we now have the ability to install a UHI (or universal handset interface). This is the phone thingy that if you are lucky will be in your central armrest. It was an option so if this is important to you then check before you buy. Assuming this is there then you can buy a Viseoo adaptor or the genuine MB adaptor. This will provide communication via Bluetooth to most modern handsets, and allow you to use the Comand system to control it including access to your contacts. It works seamlessly with my Galaxy S7 and I use it a lot.

The music is harder to crack. The best option appears to be the installation of a Denison audio link which connects where your CD changer plugs in. This seems like a very good solution but I haven’t done it so have no direct experience. Link below

http://www.dension.com/automotive/products/car-multimedia-solutions/gateway-500s-bt

Do please check for compatibility etc yourself.

I hope this thread helps others in the forum :)

James
 

leef44

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Wow! You're a fast typer...just kidding;)

Just want to say, thank you, that's a great piece of work putting all that together. That's my afternoon tea break sorted:D
 

flowrider

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Great post. On Bluetooth my March 2004 SL500 has the UHI in the centre armrest and works with the Video MB4 adapter.
 
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jjcodex

jjcodex

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Location
Exeter
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S350 W222 SL55 AMG
Thanks guys

Great post. On Bluetooth my March 2004 SL500 has the UHI in the centre armrest and works with the Video MB4 adapter.

That's interesting - earlier than I thought !

To be fair I suspect there will be a few amendments required. Anyone who notes them please speak up and perhaps we can talk nicely to the mods to perhaps allow me to make some corrections. I must admit that u hadn't understood properly the rules on editing posts as I had intended to add some pictures but such is life!
 

C43AMG

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500L ( W221 ), 2014 AMG CL 5.5 Biturbo ( W216 ) Sold, 2014 Brabus Smart ( 451 Coupe ) Mapped 130bhp
Many thanks, very much appreciated :D
 

Vilus

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Here is a link to guide put together by an American SL55 owner. Has a lot of useful info.... Click pdf download link above photos, 5.2mb.


Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG
 

prop135

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Great write up. Thanks for all the info

Sent from my SM-G955F using Tapatalk
 

5439

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SL63
Additional info to add to the P30 Performance Pack...

- Alcantara steering wheel
- 186 mph top (electronically limited)
- Active Suspension with "Nurburgring" calibration 20% stiffer
- Lager more powerful braking system
- SL65 19" two-piece double-spoke alloy wheels
- Locking differential LSD
- SL65 Front Bumper with Vents
- Additional Oil Cooler
- Carbon Fibre Trim
 

nickjonesn4

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E55K AMG Wagon, MK 6 Golf R, Porsche 993 C2S
Yoda level Forum action. We done!
 
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jjcodex

jjcodex

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S350 W222 SL55 AMG
Thanks guys and apologies for the missed info on the 030

J
 

WantSL55

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Wiltshire
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SL55 - 030 Performance package
First of all jjcodex - this is a great write up.

On the subject of the 030 Performance Pack not all of the cars have the alcantara steering wheel or the carbon fibre trim. I think it was from around 2005/2006 that those bits became standard.

I have attached an extract of the September 2003 AMG MANUFAKTUR price list which detail that elements that go into 030 for reference.

upload_2017-10-8_17-31-47.png
 

WantSL55

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SL55 - 030 Performance package
As it is likely that this thread could become a definitive guide to the SL55 a couple more points re the 030 package.
The front spoiler is based on the safety car not the SL65 merely because the safety car and the 030 package came before the SL65.
Therefore it is more accurate to say that the SL65 front spoiler is based upon the safety car and 030 package. I may not be 100% here but for the cars that I have looked at the SL65 front spoiler is of a subtle difference in that the side vents are louvers rather than black mesh like the safety car and SL55 030 package. However this might have changed on later SL55. Likewise the wheels are AMG iV rather than SL65 wheels.

Please don't take this as criticism of a great write up, its just that as I said this could turn into a definitive guide and worth getting some details right now.
 
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jjcodex

jjcodex

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Omitted as posts fell out of order!

J
 
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