Fun Facts about the Mercedes Benz 500SL
- The Mercedes Benz 500SL belongs to the Mercedes Benz SL class, a grand tourer that was manufactured by Mercedes since 1954. The term SL-Class stands for the marketing variations of the vehicle which includes its different engine configurations that lasted for six design generations. The SL designation stands for the German word, Sport Leicht or Sport Lightweight. This designation was first used on the Mercedes Benz 300SL which was called 'Gullwing' because of its gullwing or upward-opening doors.
- The Mercedes Benz 500SL was built during the 1980 model year based on the R107 platform. In the 1990s, another version of the 500SL's model was built based on the next generation R129 platform. And for the last Mercedes Benz 500SL models that were built between 2003 and 2005, the platform used was the R230 platform.
- The Mercedes Benz 500SL that was based on the R230 platform is equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 motor engine. This V8 engine that redlines at 6,000 rpm produces 302 hp at 5,600 rpm and 339 ft.-lbs. of torque at 2,700 rpm. This model takes pride for its top gear acceleration of just 3.4 seconds from 30 to 50 mph and 4.0 seconds from 50 to 70 mph. It also has an electronically limited top speed of 155 mph and can run a quarter-mile in just 14.3 seconds at 99 mph.
- When the SL and SLC models were presented at the Geneva Motor Show in March 1980, the models looked almost impossible to tell apart from the previous ones. The interiors including steering wheel were designed to look like the 126-series S-Class. They also had the same level of engineering.
- The Mercedes Benz 500 SL made the most headlines among the other SL base models that came out in 1990. The 1990 500 SL powered by a 322 hp 5.0-liter engine has impressed consumers with its high specifications including electric windows, mirrors, seats, and roofs.
- The sixth generation of the Mercedes Benz 500SL has an optional glass panel in the folding magnesium roof called Magic Sky. The Magic Sky is electrochromic which allows the vehicle occupants to create opacity or transparency whenever they want. The wiper blades of 500SL also have a row of opposing washer jets that were built-in to squirt in switching direction while the blades reverse their motion. This feature called Magic Vision Control prevents the vehicle's passengers from getting soaked when it's screenwashing with the roof down.
Common Problems with the Mercedes Benz 500SL
Built on the R107 platform during the 1980 model year, the Mercedes 500SL is one of the marketing variations of the Mercedes-Benz SL, a grand tourer manufactured by Mercedes in 1954. Powered by a 5.0-liter V8 motor engine that produces 302 hp at 5,600 rpm and 339 ft.-lbs. of torque at 2,700 rpm, the Mercedes 500SL has impressed consumers with its exceptional performance, handling, and luxury. Unfortunately, some problems were spotted with the car's driving dynamics.
Consumers have noticed that the Mercedes Benz 500SL has a tendency to lose sufficient brake power. This happens when the preformed vacuum hose gets misrouted and the check valve in the vacuum hose gets damaged during the removal and installation of the air filter housing. This issue with losing brake power might increase the stopping distance of the vehicle and lead to an accident on the road. To avoid this problem, the preformed vacuum hose should be replaced with a newly designed preformed hose that has a relocated check valve. This will help eliminate the possibility of a damaged check valve.
Problems have also been spotted in the electrical system of the 1992 and 1991 models of the Mercedes Benz 500SL. The wiring harness has a tendency to get completely disintegrated when the insulation used on the wiring gets hard and brittle. This problem may cause the car to stall and not restart at all. Aside from the multiple shorts that this damage may cause, it may also be impossible to re-install the wiring harness back in the vehicle. This problem can only be solved by replacing the entire engine harness.
Some consumers have experienced tire blowouts with their Mercedes Benz 500SL. When the car is driven at highway speeds for approximately two hours, the tread in the tires tend to separate completely from the sidewalls. Other consumers have also noticed that the seat control adjuster has a tendency to engage simultaneously and move forward while the vehicle is moving. This could result to the driver getting pinned against the steering wheel, increasing the risk of accidents and injuries.
FAQs—Mercedes Benz 500SL
My dad owns a Mercedes Benz 500SL and he's giving it to me for my 21st birthday for me to sell (and buy a new car) or to use for my practice driving. I want to keep it for a few more years because of its sentimental value to my family. How do I maintain the high resale value of this vehicle?
The 500SL is a limited edition model in the US mainly because it's a "gray-market" car (a European version car modified to meet U.S. emission and crash standards). One important factor in classifying a vehicle as a collector's item is if it is still in pristine stock condition. This means no replacement/aftermarket parts, no customizations on the body and interiors, and a superb record of maintenance records. Resist that urge to add a new stereo and do not drill anything on your 500SL.
I recently replaced the tires of my 500SL to discount tires (H-rated) while waiting for an original replacement set from my local Mercedes Benz dealership and I noticed that the ASR traction control light started blinking. What could be causing this?
This model's gears, tires and engines are calibrated to give maximum launch with the hammer down from a stop. If you don't have the OEM Z-rated tires, the less sticky tires will start to lose contact and the SL500 shuts down a little to let them hook up again. This would certainly affect your car's performance so be sure to get the correct tires.
I accidentally activated the roll bars with my top up on the 500SL after I tried to avoid a car along the road. After a sudden step on the break and swerving to the other lane, the saw the roll bars pop up and my doors unlocked by itself. What can I do to deactivate the roll bars?
Sudden breaks and swerving may have given the impression of a possible crash to your car's computer. Your doors unlocked so rescuers can get you out of the vehicle in case of an accident. You can deactivate the roll bars by holding the up button for about five seconds until you hear a click, and then press the down button.
A neighbor of mine is trying to sell me his 500SL with the hard top missing (he damaged it and decided to stick to the soft top. I asked for the service records of the car and he said that he lost it a few months back during a repair he had at a local service station. Should I still consider?
A hard top replacement from Mercedes costs about $10,000 so I understand why he didn't get a new one. But if you're looking for a collectible car, this particular one loses a significant value off it due to the missing part. Also, Benzes have a service booklet with it (even the certified pre-owned ones) to remind the owner of scheduled trips to the mechanic. Remember, a properly maintained car should always come with proof of service procedures done over the years.
Mercedes Benz 500SL: One of the More Memorable SL-Class Models
Precision engineering and distinct styling made Mercedes Benz stand out from the rest. A Mercedes Benz vehicle is anything but mainstream. Every curve, contour, and line makes the whole vehicle something to marvel at. And it’s not just now that the German luxury automaker has created a driving spectacle. As early as the 1950s, it has already come up with a stunner, a sure winner in its long generation of coupes and roadsters. The Mercedes Benz SL is a grand tourer that first came out in 1954. The SL is short for the German word Sport Leicht, which means sport lightweight. The SL Class launched various models that spanned through several generations. One of the models that made a mark is the Mercedes Benz 500SL.
1980s: The birth of the 500SL
The 500SL was introduced under the R107 of the SL Class. When SLC was dropped in 1981, the R107 series lived on through the 280, 380, and 500SL models. The 500SL was powered by a 5L V8 engine. During this time, V8s were modified to be more efficient. Some horsepower was cut off, but this meant the engine would use less fuel. The re-tuning involved using numerically shorter axle ratios. While other SL models in the R107 series were eventually replaced in 1985, the 500SL was continued. Updated 1986-1989 models, including the 500SL, came equipped with more modern pot brakes and larger discs. Their suspension was based on the W124 sedan.
Although the 560SL had a bigger capacity at 5.6 liter, the 500SL was still regarded as the fastest among 107 production vehicles. It didn’t have much restraint when it comes to emissions, so the Mercedes Benz 500SL only took about 7.4 seconds to reach 0 to 60 mph at its top speed of 140mph. Its torque was rated at 296 lb.-ft. at 3,200 rpm.
1990s: The 500SL lived through the R129 series
Out of the different SL models released in different markets, the 500SL was among the SL vehicles to make a huge buzz. Its specifications included electric windows, mirrors, seats, and roof. Its 5L V8 engine could generate up to 322 hp.
When Diana, Princess of Wales, leased a metallic-red 500SL in favor of her Jaguar XJS, this R129 vehicle attracted public attention. The member of the royal family was the first to use a foreign car, and this became quite a controversy. Because of media pressure, the 500SL had to be returned to Mercedes Benz in 1992.
For the 1994 model year, R129 SLs were re-badged. The Mercedes Benz 500SL became known as the SL500. Mercedes Benz veered away from its naming convention and instead started placing class letters before numbers, breaking its tradition of 40 years.
2000s: More recent SL vehicles
The SL-Class lived through the fifth generation R230 series (2003 to 2008) and the current generation R231 series (2012-present). The more recent SLs have been using mostly aluminum and have been designed to be wider and longer compared to their predecessor. With an aluminum body shell, the newer SLs are lighter. The SL500, for instance, weighs 125 kilograms less. The more recent SLs also feature more assistance systems on-board. They are also equipped with new features such as adaptive windscreen wipe/wash system and FrontBass system.