"The top won't open, the trunk won't quite close, the central locking system won't unlock, the electric consumers randomly go offline, the alarm malfunctions, it is one thing after another after another. Even when the repairs are covered by the warranty, you are inconvenienced by having to "DRIVE TO WORKSHOP" so often. On the flip side, you will get to test drive a lot of Mercedes loaner cars."
"I bought a Mocha Black/Tan Designo SL55 new. I do wish that I didn't have to pay $7,000 extra just to get tan seats when a Bentley Continental GT for the same price gives you infinite color choices for no extra money.
Having said that, the car is comfortable around town and on the highway. (How can it not be with seats that massage, heat & cool?). When needed, the car is ferociously fast, especially from 55-100, and much more limber on twisty roads than some reviewers say. The engine sound is Wagnerian and addictive, especially with the top down.
Three times the car has been in the shop for a roof rattle that remains annoying. But having said that, I may keep this car for the rest of my life. What's not to like? It is the Swiss Army knife of cars."
"This car (Mercedes Benz 500 SLR) is an excellent two seater, great handling and performance. This vehicle is very reliable and requires only routine maintenance. I would strongly recommend this car to anyone who would like a powerful, fast car with excellent handling and cornering ability. This car rides a little stiff, but thats expected for this type of sports car."
"I bought a clean pre-owned SL500 and I am so impressed...I have had alot of cars but this is this best car I have ever driven...the styling, smooth ride shifting acceleration...even the way the hard top roof goes into the trunk WITH suitcases in the trunk is a work of art. My wife mentioned today while I drove on the freeway with the top down...there was less noise than other cars we have even with the top down. Fast, smooth, reliable...this car is a keeper.
I like everything about this car."
"What a joy to drive with the top down or up.
Beautiful, stylish, comfortable, excellent
handling and power. Best car I have had,
a real and true car. Once you drive a SL500
you are hooked for life, never get tired or
bored driving this beauty, just love it."
"Once you've driven one, you will be hooked for life. Best V8 ever made. The car has some things overengineered but not nearly as complicated and over the top as newer mercedes models are with newer features. You haven't lived until you own one of these."
Pros: "Very fast very fun to drive and its a Mercedes :)"
Cons: "Exspensive to repair, up keep on oil & maintenence"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Power ? eats vettes all day long. Everything in this car is power and for an original sticker price of 92 grand I expect no less. Put the top down with a touch of a button and the roll bar up and the heads never stop turning, what a great feeling at least in Florida to drive along the coast in a MERC drop top. Very expensive to repair and maintain but it's a Mercedes and you get what you pay for. Oil changes are very expensive but I do them myself for around 100 bucks for oil and filter. 0w-40 Euro formula is what you should use. Gas mileage is not great, around 15 MPG average. CD player is garbage and should be replaced with an aftermarket. Brakes are expensive as well but very easy to do yourself. other then the few odds and ends as any other car it is a real pleasure to drive and the top speed is incredible with no limiters :) the engine is bullet proof just keep up with maintenance and oil changes. You will not be sorry to own this car but do yourself a favor and find a good one with low miles and no problems. Always check the convertible for leaks as it is a hydraulic system. keep your battery up to date as it powers everything even when the car is off and if it goes dead or you disconnect it , you will need the radio code, just a tip for everyone, Mercedes dealers have to give you a new code if you don't know it or lose it for free as long as you own the car, even if you just purchased it second hand. Al free of charge and it only takes a few minutes."
"The car is fast, stable, material quality is high, you get all of the bells and whistles but no MP3 or extra unneccessary bells in this year model. Gas mileage is about 15-16mpg under hard driving and about 22-24mpg on a straight line freeway driving. It comes with 2 tops. Hard top gets released with the push of a button and can be lifted by 2 person of with a help of a lift-strap sold separately for about $250.
The same button lifts the soft top over and pulls it off.
This car is reliable and almost hugs you and protects you on the road but expect to pay good labor charge to have it maintained and it'll need 1-2 parts exchanged once in a while as all cars do. Parts prices are just slightly higher priced than other cars and they obviously are much better quality to make up for the extra cost. For example Remote/key costs $188, starter costs $185, radiator costs $580 and so on.
Insurance must be full cover and it costs me about $500/6months.
The best part about this car is that you can now (2007) get a 1996 model with under 100k miles in nice condition for about $14000. You'll save $76000 over new one but still get a near new condition car with convertible and a super 315HP engine with 160MPH speed and Mercedes style. That's pure unbeatable."
"I bought this car 5 years ago with 217,000 miles sight-unseen off the internet. I always wanted a mid-90s SL but Im not made of money. Since the milage was high, I got it for a bargain. This is truely a gentlemans sports car. I get upto 22mpg in town. The only issue I have is getting in and out of it. Once in, its rides like a dream. Mechanically I have had very few issues and most I can fix myself (new starter, new ignition coils). Until 240,000 miles, that was it. Then the engine control module fried, but that was only $400. Dont fret high mileage on this car. Everything (except the heated seats) still work."
Pros: "Well made, comfortable, good looks, great road car"
Cons: "can be expensive if your not a home mechanic"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"Was looking for an affordable two seater or convertable. Glad we bought this instead of a C4 Corvette or convertable Mustang. Mustangs were cheaply made. Corvettes cramped, noisy, rattle traps. The SL has been reliable, comfortable, semi-easy to work on (at least for a Mercedes). Car drives great, has a nice cabin set up, firm and planted at highway speeds, and looks great even for a car that has "dated" styling. So many looks and compliiments where ever we drive it. Couldn't be happier with our choice and our dollar value. The hard top/convertable choice makes much more sense in our hot southern Utah weather. Nice to have the option. You just feel special every time you get in it. Best 6K I think I've ever spent!"
Pros: "Handling, excellant value for $70k car when new!"
Cons: "Preimun gas Hi dealer prices-now parts avail net:)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"Even the 6 cylinder SL320 there is plenty of power. If you are looking for something that has loud pipes to get attention, this is the wrong car for you. Quiet and smooth ride. A 4,000 pound car makes you fell like you are driving a large luxury car, but with great handling.
You see these cars with 150,000 mile still on the road."
"Ihave a 1995 SL bought it 3 yrs ago with 3922 mles on it. It now has 41500. Love the car. My complaint is when I am looking for a review I want to know the exact year of the auto or the review has no value. A 5 or 8 yr. spread is bull, does not even beginn to tell you what you are trying to research.You have done nothing but waist my time and hurt your credibility."
Cons: "check the engine wire harness and convert top cyl"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 8
"I have been driving Mercedes for the past 30 years, i have owned several S-class mercedes. this is a great driving roadster. Mercedes did a few stupid things in the design of this car. There is a engine harness problem that can be corrected with an after market harness that was made to correct the problem with the 1993-1995 models. the vendor that made the original harness us a bio-degradable insulation on the wirers, so when they get a worn they will break down and cause your car to idle rough or turn off. if you are welling to purchase the harness from $250-$1,000.00 dollar depending on were you go, it is a great value for a used one. Remember this was a 100K car when it was new.One other thing i forgot to mention, the convertible to cylinders seals will leak when they get old, you will need to have the rebuilted watch cost more money if you have the dealer replace; it will cost $500.00 if you're handy with taking them off your self."
Cons: "cost of servicing (if you don't do it yourself)"
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 9
"I bought this car - a 1996 SL500 - in January and it is now August 2013. It was a 1 owner but in the last 3-4 years the car was neglected other than maybe oil changes.
So I have had to fix things I didn't think would need repairing - but I am still happy with the car. I think the styling is better than the subsequent SLs - it is a head turner. Within the 12 years of production were a lot of changes.
For this year they used a radio made by Alpine - and the LCD screen is known to get black after just a few years. Replaced it with the Becker unit used in the equivalent SL - it looks identical and plugs right in.
The M119 V8 - used until 6-98 when the M113 was substituted, is a hot rod. I get 20 in town and 23 on the road, the same as my old 6 cylinder 300E. Tap the accelerator to pass on the freeway and you are going 90.
1996 was the first year of OBD II - they got rid of the distributors and went electronic (cylinders have individual ignitors)
As someone else mentioned though if you have to pay a shop to do everything it can be expensive.
One thing I just replaced were some plastic "oiler tubes" that plug into the heads and feed the lifters of (I presume) the intake cams. The factory went cheap - substituted plastic for aluminum in 1993 and the plastic will break over time. The aftermarket has aluminum ones - I went to a junk yard and pulled 16 aluminum ones from a 1992 E420.
The mirror - one of the first to incorporate electronics (rear view) keeps tension with a flimsy plastic clip that is known to break and become wobbly. Mercedes doesn't sell just the clip - the mirror is $1K. But there are DIY solutions on the net.
My engine, the M119 (the earlier V8) still uses less than a qt of oil in (so far) 6,000 miles.
I could go on and on but I would recommend the V8 for value (gets about the same performance as the V12 but easier to service) - the I6 had a known problem of head gasket failures due to the oil passage being to close to the coolant - and it gets only negligibly better mileage
The roof hydraulic system has 12 cylinders whose O-Rings tend to leak over time - the Aftermarket (Top Hydraulics) designed a better material -
1996 was also the first year of their 722.6 automatic transmission - 5 speeds - it has a special ATF that the factory thought would never need changing. Although experience in the field showed that clutch packs still wear and if not changed in 100,000 miles or so th3 transmission is shot - so even though this isn't on the factory's official service schedule, change it every 60,000 miles (costs $200-$300).
I get comments on this car all the time - the last of the classic SLs with the removable hardtop.
But shop carefully and use Carfax - because many are so cheap a lot have been "ridden hard and put away wet""
"The 98 was one of the best years of the R129 model. My car is now going on 13 years old, and has 71K miles on it. Starts every time, literally no other maintenance than an oil change. A big, safe, heavy, classy roadster, and a pleasure to drive. I have owned Mercedes for years because of the quality and reliability"
"I have owned mercedes for the past 24 years. The 1999 SL500 is one of the best. I had 3 S class from 92 to 97 and was not pleased with the reliability. This one is reliable, and still sharp as the day it was purchased."
"Spent $95k. Beautiful car, very nice ride! Temperature control LCD flakes out, had it replaced, flakes out again but now off warranty. Built-in garage door opener has no range (practically have to ram the door to get close enough). CD changer stopped working. If you pull into a parking spot too far, the plastic bumper literally rips apart as you scrape away from the curb (plastic insterts pop out too, so you leave parts of the car behind). Console lights burn out so you can't see portions of the display at night. Had issues with the brakes that Mercedes couldn't/wouldn't fix, ultimately had to go to independent shop and they fixed brakes right away. Received a Recall Notice from Mercedes regarding the Timing Belt being bad, took it to the Mercedes shop and they said mine wasn't one of the bad belts so there's nothing they can do (even though I described that the motor runs really rough at times, which is the described symptom of a belt going bad, Mercedes said for a fee they would fix the problem but not as part of the Recall). What started out as a great ride has turned into a major waste of $$. All of these cheap annoyances ruins the experience of owning a Mercedes. If you must own one, buy used for less than $20k, and plan on spending a lot more than that on maintenance."
"I just bought an '04 and had a 270mls drive through the desert to bring it home. I should mention, I'm a big guy. 5'11 at 224 pounds. I should also mention, I've driven S, CLS and CLK classes before.
The car is stunningly beautiful. The design, to me, is the most beautiful serial car ever. The performance is close to race car.
Now don't get me wrong, I know it is a performance roadster, and thus should feel and handle like one. Please don't think I misunderstood the concept of a performance car. However, the name Mercedes-Benz implies a certain level of comfort. To me it was always synonymous with the art/magic of making high-performance cars feel and handle very "comfortably".
That being said, to this day I haven't managed to find the right seat position for me. I always have to trade off leg-space for seat-angle or vice versa.
After only 1.5 hours freeway my back started to hurt, and neither seat heating nor lumbar support would change that. To sum up my experience, despite having some "enchanting" race-car moments I enjoyed very much, the potential buyer should consider that it can be work driving this car. You are buying a performance car, and that is what you get. Congested city traffic is a nightmare, because the abundant power of the vehicle makes it leap forward just by thinking of the pedal, resulting in a very "hectic" gas/brakes experience.
That doesn't make it anything less magnificent, just mind you, beware what you wish for. This is a car with unsacrificing performance features. If you want a performance oriented Benz but also desire the comfort associated with the brand, you may want to consider CLS or CLK classes. Driving this vehicle is a joy, but certainly it is what it is, driving a performance car that sacrifices comfort for performance."
"I've had my 94 for about 4 years. It is a great car. It's a shame what some have paid for simple repairs. The top hydraulics above windshield can be removed in 30 minutes with basic tools and sent out to be rebuilt and reinstalled total cost about 100 bucks, this is just one example. The MB forums are very useful for identifing and fixing common faults. My SL 500 now has about 150k on it and I plan on keeping it forever."
Pros: "10 mins. on the highway and you're hooked for life"
Cons: "I can only afford one."
Likely to recommend this car? (1-10): 10
"I've owned a BMW, Corvette, and a 911SC. This car puts them all to shame. Incredible power with with the handling agility of a F-14. (Retired Marine Corps fighter pilot) WOW! WOW! WOW! There's simply not enough adjectives to describe this machine."