1998 Mercedes-Benz 320 SL (R129)

Highlights


• Facelift model SL in one of the best colours
• Rare glass-roof hardtop
• Known history for past 20 years
• Smart and well-presented

THE BACKGROUND


Introduced in 1989 and regarded as the best attainable sports car in the world at the time, the Bruno Sacco-designed R129 SL was one of Mercedes-Benz’s best-received designs. 

It was both stylish and technologically advanced, with class-leading safety features including a pop-up rollover bar and four channel ABS brakes, all precursors of the Mercedes-Benz ‘Pre-Safe’ system that made its cars some of the safest in the world.

The R129 was a hugely successful model for Mercedes-Benz, remaining in production for almost 12 years and achieving strong sales volumes, while the number of good surviving examples still on the road bears testimony to the traditional Mercedes-Benz build quality that was still very much in existence when the R129 was being produced.

This example dates from 1998, just after the SL had been given a mid-life facelift that brought in single-colour bodywork, clear indicator lenses and some improvements to the interior, as well as specification improvements across the range and some new powertrains, including the 3.2-litre V6 beneath its bonnet. 

It has been known to the owner since he first acquired it in 2002, at a cost of over £30,000, though he hasn’t owned it continuously since then.

THE HISTORY


The vendor has nicknamed the SL is ‘boomerang’ car, as he keeps getting it back. He has sold it three times already, twice to family members and once to a friend, who kept it for around nine years. 

He most recently got the car back last year and he has decided that if it comes back again, then fate decrees he must keep it – after all, it was his daily transport back in the early 2000s and he is quite fond of it. 

The V5 shows a total of five previous owners – three of them are the current keeper!

All of the car’s owners have cherished and maintained it, and it is in great overall condition. 

THE PAPERWORK


There are quite a few historic bills and receipts supplied with the R129 including the bill of sale from when the owner and his son took a rail journey to Liverpool to collect it back in the early 2000s, when it was a dealer-supplied used car. 

There’s also another receipt to a previous keeper, who paid £48,655 for the car back in 1999.

Included are several bills for maintenance and repairs including a fairly recent service, and an MOT certificate valid until October 2022, passed with some minor advisories.

THE EXTERIOR 


Finished in Azurite Blue, which must be one of the best colours for an R129, the SL looks extremely smart. 

The overall condition is very good with no significant signs of wear or damage, other than some small stone chips. It also comes with a rare glass-roof hardtop, which was a very expensive option when new and  has rarely been off the car.

The vendor has never taken the fixed roof off himself as he prefers a coupe and lives in London where the all-year-round usability of the hardtop and its extra security are a bonus. 

As a result he cannot confirm if the electric soft top works or not (removing the hardtop isn’t a quick job), so its condition cannot be verified. The car also has the original accessory wind deflector, though this has never been used in the vendor’s time of ownership. 

All four wheels are in excellent order and are shod with decent rubber. 

THE INTERIOR 


Everything is smart and well-presented inside the cabin, with the SL wearing its 158,700 miles very well indeed. 

The leather and carpets are in fine order, all of the dials and controls work as they should and it comes with a period-correct Mercedes radio-cassette player, along with a pale walnut console, matching steering wheel trim and door fillets. 

It’s a smart and appealing combination that works nicely alongside the dark blue exterior, while the interior is very clean and smells fresh. 

THE MECHANICS 


The 3.2-litre V6 develops a perfectly respectable 231bhp– enough for 0-60mph in eight seconds and a top speed of 141mph. That’s plenty enough to keep up with traffic whilst still feeling pretty sporty. 

The engine sounds sweet and idles steadily, holding good oil pressure and emitting no excess smoke. 

The vendor says that it drives really well and feels very tight for its age and mileage, while the gearbox is smooth and the handling, brakes and steering all perfectly up to scratch. 

THE APPEAL


As modern classics go, the R129 generation SL is one of the most appealing as it combines traditional Mercedes-Benz build quality with modern driveability, performance and dynamics. It’s a retro car that you can use every day with no compromise at all, and in six-cylinder form that even applies to running costs as well. 

This is a really smart example of an extremely usable car that shouldn’t cost too much to run and has been well looked after, while it’s also a terrific colour scheme and a great specification. 

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Vehicle specification
  • Year 1998
  • Make Mercedes
  • Model SL Class
  • Colour Azurite Blue
  • Odometer 158,713 Miles
  • Engine size 3186
  • Location London
  • Country United Kingdom
Bidding history
12 bids from 6 bidders
  • costas-•••• £6,000 28/11/21
  • sapient•••• £5,750 28/11/21
  • johnson•••• £5,500 28/11/21
  • neznoz7•••• £5,200 28/11/21
  • neznoz7•••• £4,800 27/11/21
  • johnson•••• £4,500 26/11/21
  • Melap S•••• £4,000 26/11/21
  • Melap S•••• £3,500 24/11/21
  • johnson•••• £3,000 24/11/21
  • neznoz7•••• £2,500 23/11/21

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