Mercedes SL500 R129 1990s History

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Mercedes-Benz SL 280 R129

This R129 body SL500 was made from through 2002. It was called the 500 SL 1990 — 1993.

all have just about the suspension regardless of year or The sport packages are just and tires, not suspension, engine or Some packages were AMG, but lack the engines and hardware of the 2003 and newer AMG cars.

From 1990 1995 the SL500 used a hydraulic 4-speed transmission. It was because it didn’t usually when punched. A much 5-speed electronic transmission was in 1996 and used through The 5-speed automatic greatly the driving experience because it instantly, as well as adding a saving overdrive.

The original — 1995 models had a remote memory controlled rear view mirror and side door pockets. features were skipped as of in favor of adding side

The high performance 4-valve engine was made from — 1998. The 1999 2006 V8s are only three single overhead cam versions less power and torque. The lower performance 1999 2006 SL500 engines two spark plugs per cylinder and the identical EPA MPG.

Thus the years for drivers are 1996, and 1998, which have the quad-cam engine and the 5-speed They are the best SL500s made and are real Mercedes, not down Daimler-Chryslers.

The 1996 is the expensive as a driver’s car. only vices are an ugly hanging from the rear mirror for the remote control and missing the garage door and automatic wipers. The 1997 and models fix that but cost for the same engine and driveline.

The is just about perfect, is why I choose it for myself.

The 1998 an alphanumeric display to the dashboard and a control with more The 1998 also introduced prediction of service intervals. In the and newer you can go about 12,000 between services depending on how the thinks you are driving. Many don’t trust the computer and more often. 1997 and were on 7,500 mile or 12 intervals.

Newer SL500s 1998 just cost may be more cheaply made and the lower performance engine.

Of every SL ever made is owning if you find one in stellar and if you have the choice look for the or 1998.


There are three major of the SL500, the first from — 1995, the best from 1996 — and the final cost-reduced version 1999 through 2002. The new style introduced in 2003 today uses the same cost-reduced V-8 engine introduced in Each version of the R107 almost identical, however are many differences in the mechanical inside each of the three

6 cylinder versions, the 300SL and . were available through They’re great cars, but why at 6 when you can get 8 or even 12 cylinders? lost of one of the best things the SL: the smooth unlimited power of the V8. used a little less than the first four automatic SL500s. By 1996 the new 5 transmission increased the fuel of the V8 SL500 to within 1 or 2 MPG of the SL320, the SL320s went away in Today you can get a beater early 300SL for about $10,000. You can up EPA fuel economy back to here. The SL320 would be a car if it weren’t for the SL500. The SL320 surprisingly well for a six. you race the six is plenty for normal It’s transmission keeps it faster then the V8, so around it feels pretty similar if you get on it. These excellent straight have four valves per and dual overhead cams and more power than the 3-valve V6s made about — 2005. Redline is 6,200 RPM and, unlike the you can hear the engine working as you

12 cylinder versions, the 600SL and . were introduced in 1993 and are available in the new body style They don’t offer more power but do add a lot of weight and The SL600 weighs an additional 330 or the equivalent of having two people on your hood compared to an Handling is iffier with the added weight. Straight-line likewise is the same as the SL500 due to the For instance, in 2001 the SL500 was as 6.1 seconds for 0 — 60 MPH, and the was 5.9 seconds, and each has the same 155 MPH top limiter. The SL600 has lots of just like the SL500, and it great even with throttle. The SL600s mostly add luxury features that extra on the SL500, like the CD The SL600s have the dash and in leather, too, so they like cows. I’m the V-8 SL500 below.

All the SL500s about the same on paper for and 1/4 mile performance. Actual is another story based on

The first version was sold as years 1990 through It had the highest price of any of the versions, in 1990 dollars. OK, it probably is the expensive car ever that’s practical enough to drive day for hundreds of thousands of miles. It had crazy features that away in 1996, like control and memory of the inside view mirror and automatic of the door map pockets. The steering automatically moved out of the way when you the door, a boon for fat people.

Guide: You can identify this from across the street by the rectangular slotted vents in front fender.

As the signature of the WASP elite you can see a 1993 featured in the cop movie Another . That’s it flying past an on the cover, which is why I had to get this DVD out of A gorgeous new red 1993 is loaned to cops to help them into a nice area. The SL the usual on-screen burnouts overdone engine foley and through buildings. It’s used as a four-seater: a big girl and her dog get to in the back with the trunk open from too much on a trip. (Bad idea if the deploys!) Like all these the cop’s boss told not to damage the loaned car and I won’t you what happens. It’s a movie even without the

(click to get DVD)

In 1994, SL500 was used in Ace Ventura: Pet as a visual clue that its was a star with unlimited to blow on toys. It’s about 35 minutes into the

(click to get DVD)

Unfortunately the SL500s had ordinary hydraulic 4 automatic transmisson that slow to kick down, if at It was great from a standing and on paper, but dull to drive you miss most of the power a lack of kick-down if you’re moving. Even when it did down it wouldn’t always all the way down to redline. Ratios 3.87, 2.25, 1.44 and with a 2.65 rear for points of 44, 76, 119 MPH and 2,170 RPM at 60 MPH. You can this transmission by the P R N D 3 2 indication on the selector. The newer 5 speed P R N D 4 3 2 1

The engine is the same M119 32 valve VVT plant with a bit less torque (332 vs. 345 and a teeny bit more horsepower vs. 315 HP) than the 1996 — models, however the dull makes this much to drive than anything

These model years are an inch shorter; the front is flush with the grille. The way to recognize these models is they have three vent holes at the rear of front fender and the odometers are mechanical reels.

In about the odometer was updated to a backlit LCD and the is electronic, meaning they all correctly while driving in too.

The very first didn’t have the excellent Hi-Fi system. By about all models have come the same excellent Bose system, standard, even if the head was changed in different There are two round speaker woofer and tweeter, in each panel in the versions with the system.

The door locks weird little paddle You can see it to the right of the metal door on the top of the grab handle. There no lock stalks that from the top of the inside door The door panels look a silly compared to newer since they have sections devoted to the locks and controls and speakers. The 1996 2002 models integrate to look more consolidated in my

The 1990 — 1995 have the first version controls which consist of easy to read buttons and one small LCD displaying your interior temperature. The rear defroster is a button on the dash the radio to the left of the other flasher, seat heater and buttons.

These models fog lights with a primarily design.

The 1990 — SL500s have a two-way lower center console to hold cassette tapes. is in addition to the upper center with adjustable arm rest and all the storage areas. All these lock with the central system.

Braking wasn’t as as newer years; RT reported 145 from 60MPH and 256 feet 80MPH.

Would someone send me a good photo of the first radio if it’s than the1997 I show Thanks!

The second version 1996 through 1998 is the desirable. The superior electronic 5 transmission and side airbags added in 1996 and continued 2002. The much improved transmission, 54 pounds lighter 40% fewer parts than the 4 speed, kicks down and lets you hit redline from any You can recognize it by the 4 position on the transmission which is lacking on their 4 speed versions. (Top is marked D on both.)

Spotters You can identify this version by the two rounded vents in each fender and the classic square tail lights.

The 5 speed is the main reason these and newer cars are so more drivable and fun than cars, and also why they better fuel economy. at part throttle these expertly, unlike the older which rarely would for anything, cheating you out of much of the performance for real-world driving. The fifth gear is an overdrive boosts the EPA highway MPG rating 20 to 23 MPG. The transmission learns you’re doing, so if you’re it stays downshifted for a while upshifting. For instance, in a 100MPH run uphill it stays in 3rd gear for a while even after off the gas, in anticipation of being again. Caution: unlike the electronic transmissions it’s not smart enough to prevent you doing something stupid shifting into reverse at or so I’m told. Many cars today, like minivans, are smart enough not to do even if you move the shift

If you get sluggish response be sure to the new transmission mode selector set to S for or Sport. The W position, for Winter or deliberately starts in 2nd gear. In models Mercedes renamed the W Wet to C for Comfort.

The interior door were redesigned for1996 2002. They integrate to a more uniform look, the separate garish woofer and grills and odd switches of the earlier They add an airbag and replace the lock switch with a stem on the rear top of the door To lock the doors use either the console switch or press a stem on the door. To unlock pull the lever on the door

The fog lights are now conventional reflector and assemblies with a 55W H1 bulb.

In the SL500 grew an inch or two in and improved a point or two in aerodynamics You can see this since the bumper now out a little from the grille. are two rounded vent holes on side of the front fenders the three previous rectangular

In the 1996 model only the for the infrared remote control was an growth dangling from the of the rear view mirror. In years the infrared receivers are hidden in each door and the trunk lock instead, and went to radio control. the similar 2005 BMW 645 convertible uses this hideous hanging from the mirror.) The controls had only one button 1997, and in 1998 they more difficult to use without right at them with separate buttons. I prefer one big

The 1996 versions and newer a little expense by forgoing the control internal rear mirror and eliminating the automatic on the door map pockets. Of course all continue automatically to lock the dash storage compartment, center console storage and both rear internal They lock automatically with the trunk and fuel with the rest of the SL500. The — 2002 SL500 the earlier climate control with one with a much LCD. The radio of this includes a weather band and six presets.

1997 Mercedes Climate Control and Radio. radio was used at least as far as 1993 and through 1998. climate control was used 1996 to 2002.

In 1997 and all the SLs have three-way programmable door opener transmitters into the rear-view mirror. and earlier versions still you to clip your transmitter to the or ditch it in a console. The three are the three buttons you see on the bottom of the view mirror. Each can be to a different house or door, eliminating having to have transmitters for your different The 1997 model’s opener program to the very latest code door openers. The models can.

Also as of 1997 all the SLs have rain-sensing windshield wipers. Set it to and it runs automatically when a big help in misty conditions. If you are lazy you could just the wiper set to intermittent all the time, in case it stays off and turns on by if it starts to rain. The downfall to silliness is that you get a single every time you turn on the even if dry. 1996 and had no automation and a single intermittent

The optional Panorama hard top was in 1997. All SLs have come hard tops standard. The option has a glass top and a more look compared to the standard hard top.

1997 was the year for the 6 cylinder SL320. No one it; it was a model for the less fortunate. was only a 1 or 2 MPG benefit in rated economy with the six after the big boost in fuel economy the 5 speed transmission. Half of the to get an SL is the incredibly powerful, smooth and V8, so it’s silly to get the six.

A package became an option in It just adds different and different wheels and tires. The standard 225/55VR16 tires on 16 x 8.0 are replaced by 245/40ZR18 tires on 18 x 8.0 front and 275/35Zr18 on 18 x 9.0 wheels They have the same and gearing as the regular versions.

In Mercedes added a dashboard which calculates how hard driving and computes when you to change the oil. Also and newer models have more information that may be on the central LCD, including like oil level too HIGH.

announced at a news conference in on May 7, 1998, Daimler-Benz bought in 1999. Daimler-Benz, called since 1926, renamed to Daimler-Chrysler. It’s important to that Daimler-Benz, the maker of and many aerospace products, Chrysler outright. There was no and, no, Chrysler did not buy Mercedes.

Mercedes-Benz SL 280 R129

replaced the original quad-cam V8 with a lower performance in 1999. The 1999 — models are less desirable. The engine was the simpler three-valve with less power and torque. Thank goodness for Mercedes has brought back the quad-cam high-performance V8 for the S-Klasse .

For 1999 Mercedes added:

Nappa leather seats. replaces the ventilated, perforated of earlier models.

Two great new tan for the interior: Java and Shell. of these also have chestnut wood trim. love either color the light chestnut wood.

digital audio links to the CD instead of analog copper. You see this; it’s all hidden as of the internal wiring inside the

Wheels are now 8.25 x 17 with tires . Sport package is 8 or 9 (rear) x 18 with 245/40 (f) and (r) tires.

Remote control dual infra-red (IR) and (RF) control . My 1997 is IR I think this remote in 1998.

Magic one-touch starter. twist it for an instant and the engine itself ov er until it starts.

windshield wiper park. I if they all have this 1990; I just thought was cool overkill. They all heated washer nozzles and mirrors.

For 1999 Mercedes away:

Removed eight and two camshafts and 13 horsepower from the V8

Removed the automatic lock on the rear storage compartment houses the Bose subwoofer. The center console doors and the rear storage area lock automatically with the of the SL500.

Spotters Guide: for body-color door pulls. version also has slightly tail lights with curved faces instead of the square steps. Owners of models sometimes will the tail lights to mimic the models, but rarely will replace the door handles.

All made from about the through 1990s have the square-stepped lenses that keep mud and dirt and snow off the in bad weather for your safety. do this due to differential air velocity and across the two levels as you drive. newer lights instead a slightly sinuous (curvy) You can swap back to the older, lights on the newer cars, and wimps can retrofit the newer to older cars to make look the same as the 2002 The cosmetic changes hurt the these models’ Cd are down to / 0.34 from the earlier 0.31 / 0.32 (hard top / top.)

The new body color handles are probably just like ordinary cars. were black fiberglass epoxy from 1990 1998 and were strong to pull an SL500 out of a lake or I suspect the newer ones are cheaper.

A review of the 1999 written by someone who doesn’t the car is here .

The 1999 and newer is less desirable because of the reduced lower performance Mercedes makes up for the lower by using a cheaper exhaust that makes more to impress the innocent instead. It has power and less torque and give the same EPA MPG. It has single, not dual, cams and three, instead of four, per cylinder. This gives it 24 valves instead of the full 32 as the — 1998 models. It has 302 HP and only 339 foot-pounds of torque. It has a plastic vanity cover and an extra spark plug in cylinder and slightly lowered On paper and actual driving it about the same and is still beastly, smooth, efficient and it’s just not as technically as the earlier engines. It retains Valve Timing and the same EPA MPG and numbers, so it’s not that big a I point this out since the cars are better and certainly expensive to buy. After Chrysler, Daimler started really cheap and looking for bucks instead of making mostly as engineering tour-de-forces to the Daimler name to encourage of their far more expensive products.

2002 Mercedes Engine Vanity Cover as 1999 — 2006)

All V8s are just about bullet drive them as hard as you and they’ll run forever unless you run it This same plant is in the 2003 — 2006 today.

The transmission and climate is identical to the 1996 — versions.

1999 — 2002 SL500 Climate Control and

The radio now has 10 presets and can be integrated to the optional telephone remotely. You dial it from the dashboard and it can automatically with the built-in free set up. Of course the expensive phone is obsolete today and you have to pay someone to remove it to the storage space it takes up. The offers most of the same of earlier models, except it adds 10 presets instead of 6 and to offering direct numeric of radio stations. For instance, if you to type in 93.7 you just # 9 3 7. The LCD folds down to expose the tape slot. If you don’t it back up it will start loudly with no indication of the This can lead to a dangerous due to the loud distraction that something major like a open or no oil pressure but with no of the problem. The four buttons the LCD change function depending on you’re doing, so it’s because you have to squint at it trying to drive in order to it. The earlier radios can be adjusted your eyes on the road every button always the same thing. Likewise newer radio only Dolby B tape noise the earlier models also Dolby C noise reduction if you your own very high tapes, not an issue today CDs. None of the radios Dolby noise reduction for FM. The communicates with the optional 6 CD player optically instead of as in earlier SL500s, thus it a different CD changer.

The still gauges now have silver rings around them as of

1999 — 2002 SL500 Gauges, taking cues from 1960s cars.

The oil pressure gauge has replaced with a more oil temperature gauge. This is helpful because you should let oil warm up before you hammer on the and this takes longer the water takes to warm, is what is indicated on the other gauge. I only used my oil gauge to know when my oil was which you read convolutedly by until the idle oil pressure to around 1 — 2 bar from the 3 it pegged while cold due to the viscosity. 50 years ago oil pressure was a but for the past 10 — 20 years been so reliable in all cars this gauge is a throwback to the days of motoring. Today called out by a warning light in of a problem.

An odd advantage of the 1999 2002 models is a larger wheel. It’s just big to allow you to see the fuel gauge on the and clock on the right without being hidden partially the smaller wheel of earlier On earlier models it helps to the wheel closer to you, this is less safe in you crash.

Mercedes-Benz SL 280 R129
Mercedes-Benz SL 280 R129

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