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Mercedes-Benz R129

Mercedes-Benz R129 Published: 14th Aug 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mercedes-Benz R129
Mercedes-Benz R129
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Incredible value - Terrific for fast touring - Very expensive repairs & restos - Huge number around so you can be picky

Mercedes spent a decade perfecting its R129 SL not simply as a replacement for the R107 but also as a technological tour de force. Based upon the E Class saloon, like the R107, the R129’s beauty lies in the fact that there’s a model to suit all tastes, pace and pockets although being more advanced aren’t as simple to maintain as earlier SLs.


Based upon a shortened W124 E Class floorpan, the R129 feels much more modern than a R107. This is never more evident in the chassis design where the earlier SL’s dated rear diagonal swing axle gave way to a grippier more secure multi-link axle, making this the sportiest SL ever. You feel safe and secure care of it being one of the first cars to come with the type of today’s driver aids we now take for granted such as anti-lock brakes, (Acceleration Skid Control) traction control plus there’s a automatic clever roll over protection system.

Best models

Typically Mercedes, a wide choice of engines keeps everybody happy from a smooth 2.8-litre six, through the 24-valve 3-litre 300SL, right up to the full fat 6-litre 409bhp V12. For the majority, the choice rests between the brace of 3-litres (badged 300SL or SL300) because they go well enough and are easy to run. There’s a choice of 12 or 24-valves and while the latter is sportier, care of a twin cam 231bhp tune, the earlier 190bhp car is easier to run and more reliable. According to The SL Shop and Stuttgart Garage, the best model is an original V8 5-litre. While later cars look nicer and boast more gizmos, build is not as good as the earlier SL. The 280 is okay but the six-cylinder engine can give problems. Mercedes offered special SL models such as the Mille Miglia and Silver Arrows before the R230 took over.


These SLs are still as cheap as chips but you get what you pay for. They can go for less than £5000 but land yourself one without a service history and it can cost that much again for relatively minor repairs – such as to the transmissions or hoods. Given their great value for money, it’s best to spend closer to £15,000 at a specialist offering a strong warranty – cheap in the long run. Top ones can exceed 30 grand with Silver Arrows examples matching R107 values.

Buying advice

Avoid ‘pimped-up’ cars as they usually spell trouble and won’t be easy to sell on. A solid service history, preferably stamped by main dealers or specialists is crucial. Rust is not a major issue but check front bulkheads and if there’s water in the footwell, find another SL.

Check the hardtop carefully and also look for rust at the bottom rear sides. Make sure the hardtop is with the car and inspect it for damage. If the top is on, ensure it’s removed and the hood inspected for operation and condition; triple lined, fully automatic and the thick end of £5000 to replace… Similarly, a jaded interior can run to Jag Mk2 money to bring back into shape; trim can be bought new but can be mega dear.

See that the auto trans works okay as its electric gubbins are known to play up and pricey to fix. Check the rear diff’s ASC traction control too as this can also fail. On pre ’95 cars. Wiring loom can bio-degrade and new ones cost £1300. Best buy from a SL specialist.

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