Which SL 500 Model Year to choose (95,97,99) - Mercedes-Benz Forum
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post #1 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 05:51 AM Thread Starter
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Which SL 500 Model Year to choose (95,97,99)

Dear all,

I am looking to buy a SL 500 and found three options which fit into my budget but wanted the experts decision here.

First One is a 1995, First Owner, Always at Mercedes serviced car with 242.000 Miles. Outside the car does not have a scratch, inside the leather is a little tired and the roof has been replaced two years ago.

Second is a 1997 with the desirable Combo of R119 Engine with 5 Speed Automatic, 90.000 Miles, three owners and overall OK Condition meaning fluids need to be replaced, soft top windows polished and exterior has some cosmetic wear.

Third is a 1999, Facelift Model, different rear lights and recent full service.

NOW, what I wanted to ask, and maybe I am wrong, is it possible the 1999 Model is a little roomier inside ? I felt like I was sitting a little lower and maybe slightly further back than in the 97 and 95 Model. The seats in 97 and 99 are the same so thats not it.

Otherwise all three drove great, the 1999 felt the most sporty, the 1995 the most cruiser like.
The 1997 is the 40th anniversary edition with the nice burgundy red exterior which from a visual point of view is winning.

Without mentioning pricing, which one would you take and why?

And could the seating position really be different ? I am 6.3, therefore at the limit of space.
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post #2 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 07:13 AM
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Originally Posted by mvaro2002 View Post
Dear all,

I am looking to buy a SL 500 and found three options which fit into my budget but wanted the experts decision here.

First One is a 1995, First Owner, Always at Mercedes serviced car with 242.000 Miles. Outside the car does not have a scratch, inside the leather is a little tired and the roof has been replaced two years ago.

Second is a 1997 with the desirable Combo of R119 Engine with 5 Speed Automatic, 90.000 Miles, three owners and overall OK Condition meaning fluids need to be replaced, soft top windows polished and exterior has some cosmetic wear.

Third is a 1999, Facelift Model, different rear lights and recent full service.

NOW, what I wanted to ask, and maybe I am wrong, is it possible the 1999 Model is a little roomier inside ? I felt like I was sitting a little lower and maybe slightly further back than in the 97 and 95 Model. The seats in 97 and 99 are the same so thats not it.

Otherwise all three drove great, the 1999 felt the most sporty, the 1995 the most cruiser like.
The 1997 is the 40th anniversary edition with the nice burgundy red exterior which from a visual point of view is winning.

Without mentioning pricing, which one would you take and why?

And could the seating position really be different ? I am 6.3, therefore at the limit of space.
I would take the 97 cause it's still all Mercedes and has the M119 quad cam engine. You may have to do some normal DIY to bring it to new condition. 90k
leaves many more miles in that car.

John;
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post #3 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 07:57 AM
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Originally Posted by FATHERTIME View Post
I would take the 97 cause it's still all Mercedes and has the M119 quad cam engine. You may have to do some normal DIY to bring it to new condition. 90k
leaves many more miles in that car.
Given the info you posted, I too, would choose the '97...
I am biased as i have '97 Anniversary Roadster.
I suspect you are not in the US (but across "the pond"), as you indicated a decimal, rather than a comma when reporting mileage (Not that it matters, but curious the pricing if that is the case).

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post #4 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 08:11 AM
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Given the info you posted, I too, would choose the '97...
I am biased as i have '97 Anniversary Roadster.
I suspect you are not in the US (but across "the pond"), as you indicated a decimal, rather than a comma when reporting mileage (Not that it matters, but curious the pricing if that is the case).

Haha the decimal may be habit I'm a CNC programmer and any time I type a comma with numbers I gotta look for the damn thing

John;
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post #5 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 08:18 AM
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A 1999-2002 SL is "all Mercedes". Chrysler engineering had nothing to do with the development of the M113 engine or any other aspect of a '99 car which distinguishes it from a '97. The merger between the two companies occurred months after the M113 was in production and the start of model year 1999.

I think it is apparent that at the end of the '90s Mercedes were producing cars engineered to a lower standard than the cars produced at the dawn of that decade. The decline seems to have come c. 1994. If someone wants a 129 engineered to the highest standard, then I believe they should look for an early '90s car. And while I own four (4) 1991 cars, my personal preference is for power and the M113 engine.

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Originally Posted by mvaro2002 View Post
...is it possible the 1999 Model is a little roomier inside ? I felt like I was sitting a little lower and maybe slightly further back than in the 97 and 95 Model.
The interior dimensions are identical. If you sat lower and further back in the '99 car, then I presume this is a consequence of the electric seat adjustment setting.

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Originally Posted by mvaro2002 View Post
Without mentioning pricing, which one would you take and why?
You seem to have correctly sussed that the '99 car generally makes more power than the other two, and to your eyes the '97 is the best looking. My decision would center upon those two points. I don't know how strongly this should influence your choice, but it's worth mentioning that the '99 car has a more robust version of the transmission which is in the '97 car.

I would never buy a high-mileage car when low-mile choices are available to fit my budget. The transmission in the '95 car has an outstanding reputation for reliability, but at 240K miles it could be done any time now.
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post #6 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 08:57 AM
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A 1999-2002 SL is "all Mercedes". Chrysler engineering had nothing to do with the development of the M113 engine or any other aspect of a '99 car which distinguishes it from a '97. The merger between the two companies occurred months after the M113 was in production and the start of model year 1999.

I think it is apparent that at the end of the '90s Mercedes were producing cars engineered to a lower standard than the cars produced at the dawn of that decade. The decline seems to have come c. 1994. If someone wants a 129 engineered to the highest standard, then I believe they should look for an early '90s car. And while I own four (4) 1991 cars, my personal preference is for power and the M113 engine.

.
I own 3 SL's I like the 94 because I can adjust the shift points on the 5 speed hydraulic trans and the rear mirror is powered it's the last of them. It's a M104 so it's a fun light canyon car. My 98 SL500 has the M119 engine it's the last and best of the breed IMHO and I have yet to be beat by a M113 normal aspirated. I see plenty of M113 with valve seal problems along with intake manifolds and burned exhaust valves at the shop that works on all my cars. My 99 SL600 is the M120 V12 and still has the stitched interior but it does say Chrysler on the door post however the engine was not affected.

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post #7 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 09:55 AM
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...it does say Chrysler on the door post...
You would know, but I'd wager you are mistaken. I presume the placard you see reads "DaimlerChrysler" -- this was the new name for Mercedes' parent company after the merger.

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...I have yet to be beat by a M113 normal aspirated.
I presume you haven't gone head-to-head with an M113 car in the quarter mile or a 0-60 comparison, since the M113 should win both challenges.

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Originally Posted by FATHERTIME View Post
I see plenty of M113 with valve seal problems along with intake manifolds and burned exhaust valves at the shop that works on all my cars.
Thats odd. In all of my years at Benzworld and owning these engines I can't think of a single M113 with any one of those problems. On the other hand, the forums document instances of late M119 motors having clogged airways which require removal of the cylinder heads.

Ken Redmond has owned and operated the Benz Store in Chamblee, Georgia since the early '80s. The Benz Store sells new and used parts, and they also repair cars. Among all the modern SLs Ken regards the 129 as best, and the '99-'02 cars as the best-of-the-best on account of the M113 engine. The aspects of the M113 which impresses Ken are its durability, reliability, and its use of roller cam bearings.
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post #8 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 10:18 AM
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[QUOTE=bobterry99;17816122]
Thats odd. In all of my years at Benzworld and owning these engines I can't think of a single M113 with any one of those problems. On the other hand, the forums document instances of late M119 motors having clogged airways which require removal of the cylinder heads.

Never saw this on any M119 but all all the time in the V6 E cars. No way would I say all the M113 motors have the issues I spoke of but I see it enough that
I don't want one except I may bend over for a 2008 SL55 cause of the blower. Maybe the ones I see are cause of poor maintenance, Like trying to go the 10k on oil changes without ever really getting the car hot or stuck injectors filling the cyls with fuel. These are not things I read about these are issues I see and help with on a weekly basis at a Mercedes and BMW only shop. They also work on BMW those are an oil leak on wheels.

John;

Last edited by FATHERTIME; 06-16-2019 at 10:21 AM.
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post #9 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 10:47 AM
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I would go for the 97. 96-98 were arguably the best years for these cars. Plus with that mileage, you have years of life left.


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post #10 of 31 (permalink) Old 06-16-2019, 11:06 AM
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I would go for the 97. 96-98 were arguably the best years for these cars.
MY1996 is notorious for transmission issues which were generally not resolved until MY1999. Apart from that, I challenge you to name something materially better during those years than later years. Just one thing that can support your statement. I don't anticipate a reply, since there is nothing.

I believe both the M113 and M119 engines have been described as "bulletproof" by professional Mercedes techs over on the peachparts.com forum. Therefore, alleged M113 issues with burned exhaust valves and M119 issues with clogged airways probably occur too infrequently to be worth mentioning in this thread. But since that has been done...

I searched peachparts.com for author "stevebfl" (a Mercedes tech) and the word "airways" and found two threads discussing the issue of clogged cylinder heads. In one Steve writes: "The common issue on 119 engine secondary air codes is plugged passages in the cylinder heads. Not a nice situation." (The remedy involves removing the cylinder heads).

So if an M119 gets the same or slightly worse fuel economy than an M113, accelerates my car from rest-to-60 slower, and has no reliability advantage, then why should I seek to own one? (The M119 would have a discernible advantage accelerating from a high speed to a still-higher speed, but neither I nor most people drive that fast).
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Last edited by bobterry99; 06-16-2019 at 11:20 AM.
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