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Discussion Starter #1
I'm negotiating to buy a 1998 SL600, w/ Pano roof, but 115k miles.

Following the R129 as I have, it seems the features get better with each succeeding year, until 1999, when the features seem to tail off. No two-tone leather, the funky rear lights, change out of the better-than-average stock stereo system.

So, IS 1998 the best year for the R129? Or would someone suggest another year?
 

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I'm negotiating to buy a 1998 SL600, w/ Pano roof, but 115k miles.

Following the R129 as I have, it seems the features get better with each succeeding year, until 1999, when the features seem to tail off. No two-tone leather, the funky rear lights, change out of the better-than-average stock stereo system.

So, IS 1998 the best year for the R129? Or would someone suggest another year?
It's partially a matter of opinion, most of the debate about 1999 or newer is for the SL500 around the M119 vs the M113... which isn't an issue if you're getting an SL600. I prefer the 1999+ models by far.

For 1999 and newer, I think the tail lights look better, the stereo system is for sure better than earlier models; it's replaced with a much nicer looking unit and the connections are all fiber optic.

The leather is never two-tone unless you get a special edition. The seats are different; they went from an older style split seat cushion to a different pattern. The steering wheel looks nice, it doesn't look like crap (in my opinion).

If you're not in a rush, I'd keep an eye out for a 2002 SL600 silver arrow edition. Our moderator Lynns has compiled a lot of information about them (lots of pics too), check it out:
http://www.benzworld.org/forums/r129-sl-class/1283678-2002-sl600-silver-arrow-w-pano.html
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you, Mr. Clifton.

I have a 1999 S600 sedan and a 1995 S600 coupe. I can tell you the coupe appears to be a better made vehicle than the sedan, and some attribute that to the change in management thinking after the Chrysler/MB merger, wherein the thought was to make the cars at the cheapest possible cost.

I suspect the R129 model to suffer the same denigration in quality. The SL600 DID come with a two-tone leather feature standard in the 1997 and 1998 model years.

Just confirmed my deal, it looks like I will be getting a 1998 red SL600. It will need some work, I try to bring my cars to CPO condition where possible, so the next stop will be the mechanics!

Regarding the radio, with features 'updated', I had a 2001 S55 with what I think was the same or similar radio. Those radios had a phone function that I believe is now obsolete. On my older S-classes with the same radio that my SL will have, they also have a radio with phone function. I was able to resurrect that function with a bluetooth Parrot 3100 system that allows me to use my one Iphone in all my cars. I do not believe you can do that with the later head unit, because of the fiber-optic lines in it.
 

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Very well, I defer to Mr. Tang.

The car i'm working on looks complete. It's red, with two-tone gray interior, Pano roof, it even has the wind deflector, something I've found to be usually missing. It DOES have 115k miles on it, but then again, all of my M120 motors have over 100k miles on them. I've found if the car has too low miles, it can have more problems from sitting than a higher-mileage car might have from driving.

Any thoughts? Admonishes? Reflections from other owners on the M120 motor in the SL body??
 

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Very well, I defer to Mr. Tang.

The car i'm working on looks complete. It's red, with two-tone gray interior, Pano roof, it even has the wind deflector, something I've found to be usually missing. It DOES have 115k miles on it, but then again, all of my M120 motors have over 100k miles on them. I've found if the car has too low miles, it can have more problems from sitting than a higher-mileage car might have from driving.

Any thoughts? Admonishes? Reflections from other owners on the M120 motor in the SL body??
I have a 1998 SL600 with 89K miles on it. You will love the M120 if it is well care for. Expensive if you need repairs; but nothing else is comparable in term of power and smooth performance on the highway at 85+ miles/hr.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thanks! I'm well aware of the qualities of the First Generation V12 (M120) motor. I'm a fan!

What color combo is your 1998?
 

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I'm negotiating to buy a 1998 SL600, w/ Pano roof, but 115k miles.
Hi Stryker, I'm not sure about your price range nor exactly which part of the North Eastern US you are located.

For comparison purposes, other similar units are found when searching within 500 miles from a NY zip code.
Find Your Car: Mercedes-Benz SL600 Listings Near Brooklyn, NY 11245 - AutoTrader.com

Check out this low mileage 98 SL600 equipped with SL1 Sport Package & 415 Panoramic Glass Roof. :thumbsup:
Cars for Sale: 1998 Mercedes-Benz SL600 Roadster in Altoona, PA 16602: Convertible Details - 310259397 - AutoTrader.com



 

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My '97 has 184K miles, silver paint with two tone light gray/dark gray interior. It's my daily driver and aside from regular maintenance, it's been a rewarding car.

I upgraded the front brakes to the '99+ (IMO, should be mandatory for any pre '99 V12 owner). I've just installed MB Arts rear camber arms to deal with the quick tire wear on the rears, but the car now handles better. Other than NOT using Hamburg-Tech parts on the car (idler arm repair bushing), the car has held together rather well.
 

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"I have a 1999 S600 sedan and a 1995 S600 coupe. I can tell you the coupe appears to be a better made vehicle than the sedan, and some attribute that to the change in management thinking after the Chrysler/MB merger, wherein the thought was to make the cars at the cheapest possible cost."


There are lead times to change anything. The merger was on May 7, 1998. The M112 was introduced at the start of the 1998 model year, meaning it was available in late 1997. It takes a couple of years lead time to design/develop/test/tweak/test/certify/tool/produce/set up a parts network/train for a new engine.

The M113 is based on the M112, and was a logical extension-minus the balance shaft. It was planned, not an immediate reaction to the merger.

As far as the production changes after the merger "make the car at the cheapest possible cost", what differences do you note between your two cars, as an example where the less expensive route was taken ? Even for body/suspension/....etc, every change requires work, and has to be weighed against the cost benefit and payback timeline, and when the next revision (R230) is planned for introduction.

Thanks
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I have three w140's with the M120 motor: a 1992 sedan, a 1995 coupe, and a 1999 sedan. There are marked differences between the three.

The 1992 was the first year introduction of the w140 body and the first year production for the M120 motor. That car was practically hand-made, given the importance of the introduction of both body and engine. Hand-made, as in body work exceptionally well done, fitment of both interior and exterior components, quality of components all point to the very high-end automobile this top-of-the-line model was. I know this because of the complete makeover of the car I am doing to it. I'm about 90% complete.

The 1995 coupe is also an exceptional car in that IT was the top-of-the-line for MB in MY1995. Also showing hand-made elements in that construction.

The 1999 sedan, when compared to the 1992, shows a remarkable change in manufacturing technique. The car is simple not as well put together. For example, there are 15 fasteners holding each interior door panel to the outer panel in the 1992. There are only 8 fasteners in the 1999. More panels are pressure fit in the 1999, versus hand-fit and secured in the 1992. Foam seats in the 1999, versus horse-hair seating in the 1992. The radio in the 1992 is far more complicated than the relatively simple Becker unit in the 1999. Remember, when you are making over 400,000 units, simple things like saving on hardware add up.

As you may know, the W140 was engineered to compete with Rolls and Bentley. But because of competition from Lexus, Infiniti, Jag, Cadillac, BMW, etc., they could not charge a price commensurate with Rolls and Bentley. Therefore, MB lost money on the line.

When they acquired Chrysler, so much money was needed to develop the new company MB couldn't afford to keep dumping money in the then current S-Klasse to maintain market share. So they developed a completely different platform for the next incarnation: the W220.

But they kept the W140 going, by developing the W240 body, the one we know today as the Maybach.

I assume they did a similar thing with the R129-body.

No?
 

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It's partially a matter of opinion, most of the debate about 1999 or newer is for the SL500 around the M119 vs the M113... which isn't an issue if you're getting an SL600. I prefer the 1999+ models by far.

For 1999 and newer, I think the tail lights look better, the stereo system is for sure better than earlier models; it's replaced with a much nicer looking unit and the connections are all fiber optic.

The leather is never two-tone unless you get a special edition. The seats are different; they went from an older style split seat cushion to a different pattern. The steering wheel looks nice, it doesn't look like crap (in my opinion).

If you're not in a rush, I'd keep an eye out for a 2002 SL600 silver arrow edition. Our moderator Lynns has compiled a lot of information about them (lots of pics too), check it out:
http://www.benzworld.org/forums/r129-sl-class/1283678-2002-sl600-silver-arrow-w-pano.html
I have a 98 SL600 and the interior is two tone. The code is 265A, mushroom. Both the seats and door panels use two different colors. One is a very light brown and the other is a tan. Would be glad to post a few pics if that clears things up. BTW the silver arrow has two tone seats!
 

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Just bought a 1998 SL600 with 29,000 original miles. Car needs minor cosmetic repairs, mostly due to sun damage in Florida. Will be looking for bits and pieces. First off, a new boot lid insert. Looking for original leather, but hard to find. Will purchase the whole unit if need be to get the black with white stitching as original. Also looking for glove box, may buy this directly from MBUSA because very hard to come by so far. Mine has the phone dialing unit in it which I would rather not have, better as an empty storage box. Any tips or help from your process is appreciated.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Welcome to the Forum with your first post.

The 1997 and 1998 SL600 models are arguably the best years for the R129, because they are the only two years that come with the two-tone leather (excepting the Silver Arrows which only come in one two-tone color combo), amongst other benefits.

Our cars don't come with a conventional dashboard glove box. There is a center console, for storage, and that small storage space above the HVAC controls that holds the dialer for the now-useless analog phone system.
 

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So Stryker-1999 S600 - after several years of owning a SL600 - what is your take on it? I must admit I am a wee bit jealous of your stable of cars - must be tough which car you are going to drive in the morning.
 

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Discussion Starter #17 (Edited)
I so enjoy the SL, it is a terrific automobile. After several years, it is still a thrill to drive.

I came to realize the true value of the early- to mid-1990's Mercedes top line cars actually by mistake. I had purchased new a 1995 S600 sedan. It was a terrific car, but when the warranty was up, a MB sales guy convinced me to buy the 'next new thing', a S55 w220 body. What a horrible experience!! A terrible car that taught me that newer isn't always better. I eventually found my 1999 S600 and realized it was a far better car than the subsequent models.

Researching the topic extensively, I came to the conclusion that the MB philosophy in the 1980's and 1990's was to build the best cars in the world. When MB merged with Chrysler, the accountants took over product development and lessened the cars to pay for the mistake of the merger. I've posted numerous citations to back up what I am sharing here.

The build quality of 1990's era MB's were the epitome of automotive construction. Now, what replaces engineering is electronics, which are far cheaper to install than high quality metal, hand-built construction, etc.

My choice of cars changes with the weather, with the seasons, with my moods. I am blessed to have found a salient truth, and that truth came to me by making a mistake.

I would welcome other opinions on what I found to be now obvious.
 

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Thanks for the feedback - the board has some negative perspective (in my opinion) on the SL600 saying they are a nightmare - what with the V12 so I have been reluctant. That being said I still very much want one.

I would wholeheartedly concur that the 90's were the decade for me. I fell into the whole Mercedes world by somewhat of an accident. I bought a C230 for a winter beater a few years back while my 911 was put away for winter storage. Well the 911 is gone and now it is all about Mercedes for me and my target area is no rust 90's big engine beauties. I like the fact that you are all about the 600's - go big or go home :).

Thanks for your input.

Also I forgot to mention - bouchez - congrats on your new ride - post some pics when you can!
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I'll let you in on a secret: The M120 motor (first MB 12-cylinder engine) is a marvel of engineering that is not appreciated by those who do not own a car with one.

The M120 is engineered to go over 500,000 miles without an overhaul, and there are documented cases of such. What other V12 motor has claimed or substantiated that?

Yes, the V12 is a bit more complicated, yes, not everyone can work on it because of the tight quarters, most indie's are intimidated by it, and since they are so rare, many owners/potential owners are afraid of it.

But they are just terrific engines that will last for years, will give you a grin every time you start one up, and (biggest surprise) once they are set to right by an owner who isn't stingy on maintenance, are relatively easy (AND AFFORDABLE) to keep straight.
 

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"Go big or go home" is right! :D seriously you love your V12's! Do you buy spark plugs by the gross? Lol.
I'm curious as to your impressions of the S-class coupe vs the SL R129. I honestly have minimal desire for a drop top, and always liked the S-coupe, from say 96-98, and the then-new CL class. If I find the right R129, I will hard top it easily 9-10 months of the year. I also prefer the S coupe because of the "4 people seating" that is missing in an SL. However I will probably be getting a 99-02 SL500 with the SL2 pkg so I can get the good headlights and heated seats, and just deal with the two seats while having a nice 4 door car as my daily. (Probably a diesel manual trans vw). Having had cars with xenons and heated seats, I really can't see myself happy without them. I do alot of night driving, and OHio is frozen for 3-4 months of the year. That pre-dawn drive to work in the winter with no heated seats is bitterly cold.
I would consider an S500 coupe or CL500 if I could find a good one that also did not have the hydraulic ADS suspension. Seems like they all had it.
Which begs the question, are all of your 600's dampened with hydraulic fluid? Have you had many issues with ADS? Have you been forced to become an expert at it?
 
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