I don't envy the Mercedes engineers whose job it was to replace the
venerable R107 line of SL roadsters, but when the all-new R129
showed up, it was an unequivocal home-run. This 1998 SL500 is an
nice example of Mercedes' technological tour-de-force and
represents one heck of a big bang for a very small pile of
The SL has always been sleek, purposeful, and dignified, with a healthy dose of performance under the surface. In bright Imperial Red, this one is definitely an extrovert and remains an imposing symbol of affluence anywhere in the world. It was hugely expensive when it was new, and with typical Mercedes-Benz standards, the fit of the body panels is really impressive, even 18 years later. The doors close with precision usually reserved for cars with solid roofs, the gaps are so tight you can't even fit a fingertip in them, and with the color-matched bumper and rocker panel moldings, it has a very sporty demeanor indeed. A recent detail has brightened this car's high-quality paint, and the only real demerit is a small dent on the hood, but even with the mileage on this one, road rash is really minimal. The imposing grille with three-pointed star is almost as good as a plow for getting slower traffic out of your way, and from the rear, the distinctive fluted Mercedes-Benz taillights are a nod to the previous generation.
Where the R129 got a big upgrade is inside, where the formerly austere and basic SL interior transformed into a world-class driving environment that even hedonists wouldn't complain about. Comfortable tan leather buckets adjust in every possible direction, the wheel tilts and telescopes, and all that wood is real wood. It shows light wear on the driver's seat, including a small hole where it's worn through, but again, with a $100,000 discount, this car doesn't ask for many sacrifices. Everything was standard, from power windows and locks to automatic climate control, and the powerful AM/FM/CD stereo is powerful enough to be heard at triple-digit speeds with the top down. And speaking of the top, it's black canvas that is fully automated, stowing itself beneath a hard cover behind the seats. There's also a pop-up roll bar with wind blocker, as well as a matching hardtop. Nice!
The 500 in SL500 refers to the 5.0 liter DOHC V8 that lives under the hood. Making a robust 322 horsepower, it catapults the roadster with the kind of effortless ease that you get from, say, the catapults on an aircraft carrier. There's a V8 bellow from the exhaust that sounds like LeMans at night, and it turns out that the engine is virtually bulletproof in the real world. This one shows plenty of care under the hood where it's not only clean, but meticulous, further evidence of an owner who treated this car as more than mere transportation. The 5-speed automatic transmission snaps to attention with the poke of the throttle, and the all-new multi-link suspension is a vast improvement over the old swing axle setup used on earlier SLs. Powerful discs with ABS will keep you safe, and those handsome alloy wheels wear 16-inch Yokohama radials for impressive handling and impressive ride quality.
Still every bit the status symbol it was when new, this SL is also quite a bargain today. Call now!