From supercar to sports car to sporty grand tourer, the Mercedes SL has certainly led an interesting life. And with the latest version developed by AMG, Mercedes-Benz’s long-running convertible should have a promising future, too. But even if you don’t have the scratch for a Gullwing or ‘pagoda’ SL, the older roadsters still have plenty of life and luxury left in them. And that especially goes for this week’s Cars & Bids bargain car, a 1995 R129 Mercedes SL 320.
The R129 Mercedes SL is one stylish, luxurious, and classy classic convertible
|1990-2002 R129 Mercedes SL|
|Engines||1990-1993 300 SL: 3.0-liter ‘M103’ inline-six|
1994-1997 SL 320: 3.2-liter ‘M104’ inline-six
1990-1993 500 SL/1994-1998 SL 500: 5.0-liter ‘M119’ V8
1999-2002 SL 500: 5.0-liter ‘M113’ V8
1993-2002 600 SL/SL 600: 6.0-liter ‘M120’ V12
|Horsepower||300 SL, SL 320: 228 hp|
500 SL: 322 hp
1994-1998 SL 500: 315 hp
1999-2002 SL 500: 302 hp
600 SL/SL 600: 389 hp
|Torque||300 SL: 201 lb-ft|
SL 320: 232 lb-ft
1990-1998 500 SL/SL 500: 347 lb-ft
1999-2002 SL 500: 339 lb-ft
600 SL/SL 600: 402 lb-ft
|Transmissions||Four-speed automatic (1990-1995 V8 and V12 SLs)|
Five-speed manual (300 SL option)
|0-60 mph time||6.1 seconds (1993 600 SL, Hagerty)|
6.2 seconds (1993 500 SL, Hagerty)
Bruno Sacco is responsible for some of Mercedes’ most timeless designs. The W124, the first E-Class, for example, introduced sedan styling conventions that are still in place today. But if you asked Sacco, he’d say his best design was the fourth-gen Mercedes SL, aka the R129.
In their day the R129’s predecessors, the R107 and its hardtop C107 cousin, were well-received. Yet by the late ‘80s, they were outdated and due for replacement. Keep in mind, though, that Mercedes wasn’t sitting around twiddling its thumbs waiting for the R129 SL to debut. It started working on the R129 in the mid-70s; it just took that long to finish. But as its fairly long production run indicates, the effort paid off.
As the Mercedes halo car, the R129 SL was both innovative and luxurious. It introduced features like electronically-controlled adaptive dampers (standard on V12 cars) and a power-deploying roll bar, for example. Dual front airbags and ABS are standard; traction control and an electronic limited-slip differential became available in 1991.
And starting in 1996, Mercedes offered range-topping R129 SLs with stability control, with side airbags standard across the board. And that’s in addition to things like leather upholstery, wood trim, a removable hardtop, power-operated seats and mirrors, and central locking. Pre-1996 R129s even offered a power-operated rearview mirror.
You can bid on this clean 1995 SL 320 right now on Cars & Bids
The oldest R129 Mercedes SL is over 30 years old now, but credit to Sacco, it still looks elegant. And while it’s not the sportiest convertible in the world, it’s certainly comfortable, not to mention built with a ‘cost no object’ mentality. So, even with 122,200 miles on the clock, the 1995 Mercedes SL 320 currently listed on Cars & Bids has held up well.
This SL is also well-equipped. Besides leather upholstery, wood trim, and power seats, it has a power-adjustable steering column, fog lights, headlight washers and wipers, cruise control, automatic climate control, and a trunk-mounted CD changer. The power seats have a memory function, too. And yes, it has the previously-mentioned power-adjustable rearview mirror as well as a body-colored hardtop.
Besides being stock, this 1995 Mercedes SL 320 is in solid shape overall. It had some minor cosmetic damage in 2019, but it appears that was fixed. The only flaws are some minor scratches on the front bumper and wheels as well as some interior wear. Furthermore, the selling dealer replaced the catalytic converters in 2021 and addressed some roof and roll-bar mechanism issues.
The ‘R’ in R129 Mercedes SL might as well stand for ‘reliable bargain’
As of this writing, this 1995 R129 Mercedes SL 320 is listed at $5100 with four days left in the auction. That’s less than half the market value of a typical good-condition example, Hagerty says.
Given its age and luxury car nature, a pre-purchase inspection is recommended. However, it’s worth noting that the R129 SL comes from the same era as the W124 E-Class and W126 S-Class. In other words, it’s overbuilt to a fault and built to last, MotorTrend reports. Apart from degraded wiring harnesses, old soft tops, and frozen mechanisms, these classic roadsters are fairly bulletproof. And while some parts are pricey, R129s are mechanical enough that home mechanics can work on them, especially inline-six and V8 ones.
In short, this Mercedes SL 320 is a classic luxury convertible that can style on regular commuter cars without costing you a ton.
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