Hi I just had a problem with raising and lowering my soft top and managed to fix it. (silver 99 Sl500 sport panorama)
I thought I would list some detail to help others who had the same problem.
Here is what happened to me:--
When I bought the car I had the top go up and down several times just to make sure it all worked fine. I have now had the car for about 2 months and had the panorama top in all the time until last night.
I raised the hardtop by pulling back on the switch, it lifted just fine buy I left the top in place (raised) for about an hour. Then I had a friend lift the top off (use a thick blanket or similar over the trunk area to protect against scratches) .
When I went to raise the soft top by pushing the button forward, the light flashed and I couldn't hear the pump. DARN IT.
Anyway I searched these forums and although there is much help here I couldn't find anything that seemed to help my issue.
I found one post on mercedes shop that lead me to my solution but it misses out some info. ( How do I manually release soft top SL 600 - ShopForum
With the hard top off look down into the rear deck catches. I had one catch (latch) that was up (open) and one catch that was down (closed). This didn't seem right to me. So here is what I did.
1. Raise the roll bar using the dashboard switch.
2. Behind the rollbar on the right side of the car there is a round head bar with flats (10mm across). Turn this head towards the back of the car (it may be stiff). This releases the catch that holds down the deck lid cover now giving you access to the mechanism. Slowly lift the deck lid all the way up.
3. In the trunk I had to remove or pull back the trunk liner to get access to the catch that was stuck in the down position. This the one that was causing my problem.
4. On the back of the latch there is a stubby metal tab that when lifted or pushed down unlocks the mechanism of that particular catch. (it is spring loaded so you will need some way of keeping it unlocked while doing the next steps).
5. Stand by the side of the car (or get a friend to help you) to hold the tab from step 4 in the unlocked position.
6. In the roof storage area, get a wide flat blade srewdriver (or similar) and place it under the catch. Now be very patient..... Lift up on the screwdriver to lift the catch. What we are tring to do is to push the cylinder and its hydraulic fluid back to where we want it. You will probably feel like there is no easy movement but be persistant and keep working the catch lever all the way up to its open position.
7. Now let go of the catch from inside the trunk and try out the roof raise switch again. Hopefully this works for you. Good Luck.