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All other factors being roughly equal, which should I favor -- a 1998 or 1999 500 SL?


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Have narrowed my 500 SL search to a 1998 and a 1999. All other factors being roughly equal, which should I favor?
 

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1998 SL500 Sport
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If all other factors are equal, you can’t really go wrong with either. Aside from the engine difference, The 99 will have an updated gauge cluster (chrome rings, oil temp instead of oil pressure), tail lights, steering wheel, stereo head unit. As for reliability, if both have been taken care of well, both will be equal. The forum is split on the merits of each engine and you can’t go wrong with either.


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Discussion Starter #3
If all other factors are equal, you can’t really go wrong with either. Aside from the engine difference, The 99 will have an updated gauge cluster (chrome rings, oil temp instead of oil pressure), tail lights, steering wheel, stereo head unit. As for reliability, if both have been taken care of well, both will be equal. The forum is split on the merits of each engine and you can’t go wrong with either.


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Appreciate your thoughts! Many thanks.
 

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SL's & 500E's
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If it's a matter of just two specific cars, (not the years), then it's overall condition, mileage, maint history, etc. between the two cars.

After owning 3 of them now, without a doubt, I would not buy any 129 if it did not have the Xenon headlights, or Euro headlights. or the cars price is low enough to upgrade the headlights as soon as you buy the car.

The standard 129 headlights are extremely anemic, to the point of being unsafe in my book. My 2000 Sport has Xenon, my wife's 99 non-sport does not, we don't drive her car at night anymore, the difference is incredible. The Xenon lights are really superior in every way, lighting up the road almost as far as you can see. The std lights on her 129 have you driving at 30-40 mph on dark roads and you can't see all that far, not just aiming the lights, they are normally dimmer, a lot dimmer... Not many owners talk about this, and they should. Mercedes should not have sold $80K plus cars with headlights with so little performance.

The Xenon lights are not a cheap date to purchase and have installed. I have seen posts where SL owners in the US have purchased the Euro version headlights, which they claim are very bright, for less money that Xenon's

But make it easy, buy a good condition 129 with Xenon's, any year, doesn't hardly matter which year, (accept I would stick with 97's up just to get away from the bio wire insulation mess in general)....

my 2 cents...
 

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2001 SL500
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I’d go for a 1999+ for the updates and easier to work on engine. If I were you I’d specifically look for 01 and 02 cause sport package is standard on those years
 

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Also take a look at this site to get an idea of how much parts will cost you
Thanks. I've had Jaguars and a BMW 850. I've lived in the land of pricey parts. Scary place to be!
 

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1998 SL500 Sport
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Thanks. I've had Jaguars and a BMW 850. I've lived in the land of pricey parts. Scary place to be!
That is a great site. So are Pelican Parts and Auto Haus AZ. I have been very successful with ebay as well for random interior and exterior tidbits that I needed/continue to need.


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I’d go for a 1999+ for the updates and easier to work on engine. If I were you I’d specifically look for 01 and 02 cause sport package is standard on those years
Have to agree myself, and I know this seems like trivia, but on the M113 motor, they made changing the oil filter easier than any other motor I've ever worked on. The filter housing is up front and on top, just so easy to replace the filter. An Engineer must NOT have designed it, I think a Mechanic must have created this design... Engineers love to bury everything and make at least 1 bolt inaccessible...lol
 

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97 E-420 (180K miles), 97 SL500, (93K miles) 2015 GMC Sierra Denali 2500HD CC/SB/4x4 Duramax(55K)
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If it's a matter of just two specific cars, (not the years), then it's overall condition, mileage, maint history, etc. between the two cars.

After owning 3 of them now, without a doubt, I would not buy any 129 if it did not have the Xenon headlights, or Euro headlights. or the cars price is low enough to upgrade the headlights as soon as you buy the car.

The standard 129 headlights are extremely anemic, to the point of being unsafe in my book. My 2000 Sport has Xenon, my wife's 99 non-sport does not, we don't drive her car at night anymore, the difference is incredible. The Xenon lights are really superior in every way, lighting up the road almost as far as you can see. The std lights on her 129 have you driving at 30-40 mph on dark roads and you can't see all that far, not just aiming the lights, they are normally dimmer, a lot dimmer... Not many owners talk about this, and they should. Mercedes should not have sold $80K plus cars with headlights with so little performance.

The Xenon lights are not a cheap date to purchase and have installed. I have seen posts where SL owners in the US have purchased the Euro version headlights, which they claim are very bright, for less money that Xenon's

But make it easy, buy a good condition 129 with Xenon's, any year, doesn't hardly matter which year, (accept I would stick with 97's up just to get away from the bio wire insulation mess in general)....

my 2 cents...
on the headlights, yup, the std headlights are not in any way a headlight, more like a parking light. I upgraded to the euro headlights and they are FAR FAR FAR better than the std headlights. Actually make the car driveable at night. Still not up to several other cars I have, but better than some others I have owned. Probably not up to the Xenon lights, but at least adequate.

However, the euro headlights, which are plug and play, were for a while readily obtainable at a reasonable price on ebay from a seller in Latvia, now have become harder to find..

My advice, first, look for a one or two owner car, with full service records and in great shape. yup, you will pay more, but you won't be spending time working on it instead of driving it and having fun.!
 

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1993 Mercedes 500 SEC Coupe, 1983 Mercedes 380 SE
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I have the 1999 SL500 with the M113 engine. I also have a C140 with the M119 engine. I love them both. I would go for the 1999 SL500. It really is a great engine. It is known for having the breather valve cover leaks and the valve cover leaks. You can easily fix both issues yourself. The engine has 16 spark plugs, It just really feels powerful and revs very easily.
 

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1996 SL500, 2000 E430
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Easy answer - the one that you want.

If the M113 in the SL is like my E430 changing the plugs will be time consuming but fortunately not needed often. Changing the plugs in the M119 is a non-issue. Oil filters? Agreed, the oil filter on the M113 couldn't be easier (unless some ham handed mechanic makes it gorilla-tight - someone had that problem - and damage - trying to get it off. (it is in the W210 forum and it got pretty ugly). But on the M119 it is right by the right exhaust manifold. No big deal.

The M119 - when you give it a little throttle, has a satisfying muffled roar that the M113 lacks. The only weakness of the M119 - and this is post 1992-1993 - the bean counters substituted the machined aluminum cam oiler tubes for plastic and over time and hot oil and pressure, the ends will break and leak oil. Then you will hear lifter noise. I replaced mine with one from a 1992 E420 at a Pick and Pull - the aftermarket makes aluminum ones too. These were necessary because the M119 block is from the SOHC M117.
 

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