So after 14 years of Japanese cars (1985 300ZX, 1993 Prelude Si, 1992 Skyline GTS 25, 1995 Integra GS-R, 2001 Prelude), I made the switch last week and bought a car I've loved since I was a kid: an R129 SL500.
Mine is a 1998, clean-title, accident-free, two-owner California car with 67,3XX miles. M119 V8, black everything. I got it for about $13k ($14,500 after all taxes and fees) from a collector with a dealer license in Orange County.
I made a few compromises on the purchase because I basically needed to feed my obsession and get on with my life. Of course I wanted a car with a pristine exterior, and this is not one of those. A couple grille slats are bent, there's a scrape on the front bumper cover, it's got some paint chips, etc. Also, I initially wanted the Sport package, and this one doesn't have it.
But I think the car has a good heart, and that's what I really care about. The PPI didn't turn up anything major, and since then I've had two other mechanics look at it and confirm that it's in good shape. The way I'm thinking about it is, I've got a solid canvas to work with, and I'll make it prettier over the years if it treats me well. Plus, I wouldn't want a firmer ride than what I've got now, so I'm actually glad I've got the base rims with higher-profile tires.
Since picking up the car last Thursday, I've given it new tires, an alignment, and an "A Service" that included various minor tweaks/replacements. Total cost for all of that was about $800. Only two lingering issues to resolve:
1. Driver seatback is sagging off on the inside--the plastic clip broke off. I've been advised to put some glue on the clip mount and hope that holds, as opposed to buying a $300 new seatback.
2. Idle is a little lumpy--like a Mustang GT, say--in Park. Once I move to Drive, it's smooth as glass. One mechanic said it could be an MAF. No warning lights, in any case, so he said not to worry about it, but of course I want to fix it anyway.
Otherwise, the car is a dream, as you guys already know. I drive pretty much every new car on the market for my day job, and I think I like this SL better than the whole lot. Well, alright, I could make room in my garage for an E90 M3. But I can already tell that this is a perfectionist's car, an engineering tour de force. I couldn't be happier with the purchase.
Don't have any decent pictures yet, but here's a garage shot now that I've got the hardtop off:
I'm planning to start a blog about the car next week, but I'll definitely be spending a lot of time hanging out on this forum from now on. Questions/comments welcome.
Glad to be here!
P.S. Not that anyone here would be interested, but I'm selling that Prelude. 99.5k miles, manual transmission, exceptionally clean. If you know any Honda people who might like it, send 'em my way, they won't be disappointed.