To dream, the impossible dream!
Well, maybe it’s not impossible for a tiny few, but one of the most recognizable automotive icons over the past fifty years has to be the Mercedes-Benz SL Class; the car is the epitome of the grand touring coupe/roadster class as it exemplifies elegance, performance and looks. The SL Class, simply put, offers the best that Mercedes-Benz has.
No matter which SL you are considering, you can always be certain of getting cutting edge technology, a comfortable interior, and unique looks- yet be aware that all those luxury features, safety and style, do not come cheap. Even though the SL Class touts strong performance and handling, it is not as nimble in the manner of a pure sports car- but for most people (perhaps I should say 99.99%), the SL is really hard to beat.
But there is a way out of this conundrum. Have you ever considered a pre-owned Mercedes SL500? One of the truest facts has to be is this- they all depreciate like a stone. So the older cars can be had for a reasonable sum- just check your favorite car sales web site.
Let’s look at the 3rd generation- these are the 1990-2002 models. Although they don’t have as much horsepower as the later cars, in the Consumer Guide Road-Test evaluation, they said “above 3000 rpm or so, the V-8 engine feels virtually like a runaway freight train. Just a touch on the gas pedal is answered by a gush of power, as the V-8-powered SL moves away from a stop with no sense of strain.”
The 322hp 5.0 liter V-8 did 0-60 in 5.8 seconds with a top speed of 155 mph. Later in 1992, the 600SL was introduced. This was a DOHC V-12 rated at 389hp and in actual use, 0-60 came in the 5.4 second range. Clearly, the 500SL (called SL500 from 1994) was considerably faster than the previous SLs of the 1971-1989 era.
For those hungry for more power, you’ll find that there were several models that were modified by AMG and then sold through a regular Mercedes-Benz dealer. The exact production figures are not available as these cars were not originally listed as regular production SLs.
These were modified SL/SL 500s. The original V-8 engine was used; AMG increased the size of the engine to 6.0 liters and it produced 376hp@5,500 rpm. AMG stated that the car would now do 0-62 mph at 5.6 seconds, although in actually, it was quicker.
These were sold through AMG in 1995 and again from 1998 to 2001. The engine used was based on the V-12. To quote from Benzworld.org “All AMG SL73’s were an SL600 converted into a 7.3, its cylinder block bored and stroked out (518bhp and 553lb/ft torque), with upgrade to 18″ wheels and other cosmetic upgrades. It is believed that about 85 AMG SL 73’s were produced. All AMG SL73’s are registered with Mercedes Benz as SL 600’s.”
What makes the 1990-2002 models is reachable is their current price range. The SL500s original sold for about $100,000 with the SL600 V-12s going for about $135,000. Yet today, you’ll find SL500s going for $8,000-$10,000 at the low end, and the V-12s for just a little more.
You’ll find that many Mercedes-Benz cars are now even faster than the 1990-2002 cars- but not by much. There’s only so many seconds before you hit 60 mph or the quarter-mile. The 1990-2002 cars are just beyond the edge of what speed is all about. And that makes it fun!