There were not many 97 Sport package cars. In 2001 almost all were Sport package, go figure.
Some common probelms with the 97 SL (and some other year models):
1. Transmission Valve Body goes bad ($2K at an independant)
2. Ignition Coil goes bad (only one dies but you should replace all since a bad one can damage the ECU) ($800)
3. Hydrolic Fluid leaks in windshield pillar, other soft top issues
4. Remote Door lock malfunctions (vacuum pump, electronic modules)
5. Motor mounts ($900 at dealer, $350 at indy)
6. Multi-function stalk (turn signal, high beam, wipers) goes bad. Some, like me, loose flash to pass which is no biggie, others loose ability to operate high beams or signals ($450).
7. Interior pillar trim adhesive will release (reglue/recover/replace...your choice, I'm considering matching suede for the pillars, visors and header).
8. Intake hoses collapse (cheap)
9. Vacuum hoses rot (cheap)
10. Hood liner crumbles (cheap)
Overall, it's a pretty bullet proof car but certain things can (and will) go bad as the car ages, so budget a few K/year for repairs on an older SL. I've had my 97 since November (83K miles) and I've already done the tranny valve body and coils. The PO (my dad) replaced the fogged rear plastic windows and spent $900 on fluid leak and top sensor repairs. He also changed the motor mounts. I got the car with a malfunctioning stalk and I'm not going to fix it until something more important stops working. I fixed the intermittant remote locking problem by installing an aftermarket alarm (this means my problem was not a pump problem or leak, but I knew that before I installed the alarm). It still needs new shocks soon ($1350 for Bilsteins). Also, Try PBR Ceramic pads when changing the brakes, they give a firmer pedal feel, stop better, have 90% less dust.
I'm thinking of buying a sl500 sport what are some of the common problem of the sl500 i'm willing to wait as long i can to find the exact car i'm looking for it must be a sport. My personal opinon im in love with the v8's of this year the newer motors aren't the same. I already have a 1997 e420 sport that is in showroom condition. So is the car worth buying or is it to many problem to deal with or is about the same as the e420