Cars and Bids Bargain of the Week: 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600

While the next-gen SL is going to be AMG-only, not every previous version of Mercedes-Benz’s convertible was about outright performance. And if you look carefully, you can score a used example for not a lot of money. But, while not every SL was terribly sporty, a few offered some rather extreme engines. Such is the case with this week’s Cars and Bids bargain, a 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600.

The R230-gen Mercedes-Benz SL600 is a V12-powered roadster GT

Mercedes-Benz first launched the SL600 in 1993 as part of the R129-gen SL-Class, Automobile reports. But while the R129 SL models are collectible and desirable, the earliest examples are classics by now. And by 2002, the entire lineup needed an update.

That’s why, for 2003, Mercedes-Benz introduced the R230-gen SL-Class, RAC explains. And the first US-market models followed a year later. Like its predecessor, the R230 SL-Class offered customers a variety of engine options. And while ‘lesser’ models have a V8 or a V6, the range-topping Mercedes-Benz SL600 has a V12.

A silver 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL600 with its roof down driving down the road by a rocky cliff
2004 Mercedes-Benz SL600 | Mercedes-Benz

The previous-gen Mercedes-Benz SL600 also had a V12, a 6.0-liter one rated at 389 hp, Roadshow reports. However, the R230-gen car has a 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V12 borrowed from the contemporary Maybach models, Car and Driver reports. In the R230 Mercedes-Benz SL600, it makes 493 hp and 590 lb-ft sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed automatic. And in Car and Driver’s hands, the V12 convertible went 0-60 mph in 3.6 seconds. That’s faster than the contemporary Dodge Viper, which is over 1000 pounds lighter.

Plus, not only is the R230 Mercedes-Benz SL600 faster than the Viper, it’s significantly more luxurious. Standard features include leather upholstery, xenon headlights, and ventilated seats with active bolstering, Autoweek reports. Active suspension is standard, Automobile reports, as is traction and stability control. And even back in 2004, the SL600 offered optional adaptive cruise control, parking assist, and a built-in car phone, Autoblog reports.

The 2004 Mercedes-Benz SL600's V12 engine in the engine bay
2004 Mercedes-Benz SL600 engine bay | Mercedes-Benz

Admittedly, the R230 Mercedes-Benz SL600 isn’t a sports car. However, the convertible has accurate steering and, thanks to its active suspension, a smooth, compliant, and soft ride, MotorTrend reports. But the SL600’s real draw-point is that V12 engine, which delivers “spine-snapping” acceleration, Autoweek reports. And it’s electric-motor smooth, Autoblog reports.

The 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600 on Cars and Bids

The side 3/4 view of a dark-gray 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600 with its roof down by a Ferris wheel in a city parking lot
2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600 side 3/4 | Cars and Bids

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The V12 engine in the 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600 listed on Cars and Bids might be even more impressive. It features an OE Tuning ECU tune that the current owner claims boosts the engine to 591 hp and 696 lb-ft. However, apart from a European license plate, 20” wheels, and an aftermarket AMG badge, it’s the only modification.

Even besides the engine tune, this 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600 is fairly well-equipped. In addition to the active suspension, it also has massaging heated and ventilated seats, a retractable roll bar, and a Bose audio system. The convertible also has navigation and keyless entry. And while it’s not an AMG, this SL600 does have the AMG Styling Package, as well as an upgraded headliner.

The black-leather-upholstered interior of a 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600
2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600 interior | Mercedes-Benz

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This 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600 isn’t cosmetically perfect. It has some scuffs and scratches and some interior wear. There’s also a small tear in one of the bolsters. However, it has just over 101,800 miles.

Plus, Cars and Bids reports that the current owner fitted new tires, brake pads and rotors, and new ignition coil packs. And over the last two years, this SL600 has had both its suspension and electrical systems serviced. The V12 also has fresh oil and a fresh filter.

It’s a V12 bargain, but watch out for maintenance

As of this writing, this 2005 Mercedes-Benz SL600 is listed on Cars and Bids at $20,000 with four days left in the auction. Considering the convertible started at just over $129k, that’s some significant depreciation savings. And that price is about what an SL600 in this condition should command, Hagerty reports.

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Admittedly, maintaining a Mercedes convertible with a twin-turbocharged V12 won’t necessarily be cheap. Interestingly, though, the tune might not be a problem. Florida-based tuner RENNtech could pull over 626 hp and 745 lb-ft from the V12, Hemmings reports. And most of the problem areas on this SL600 have seemingly been addressed. Still, we recommend getting a pre-purchase inspection before thinking about bidding.

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