Mercedes-Benz R129

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Mercedes-Benz R129
Mercedes-Benz 350SL European (UK) Model
Automotive industryMercedes-Benz
Production1989–2001
213,089 built[1][2][3]
PredecessorMercedes-Benz R107
SuccessorMercedes-Benz R230

The Mercedes-Benz R129 Automobile were produced from 1989 through 2001. They were sold under the SL-Class model names. The R129 replaced the R107 SL-Class in 1989 and was in its turn replaced by the R230 in 2001.

Contents

Model history


The R129 was based on the shortened floorpan of the Mercedes-Benz W124[2] and featured many innovative details for the time, for instance electronically controlled damping (optional) and a hidden, automatically extending roll-over bar. The R107's rather dated rear diagonal swing axle gave way to a modern multi-link axle. The number of standard features was high, with electric action for the windows, mirrors, seats and hood.

1999 Mercedes-Benz R129 SL500
1999 Mercedes-Benz SL600

Initially, there were three different engines available,

  • 300 SL with a M103 3.0L 12-valve SOHC Straight-6 (190 PS (187 hp/140 kW) at 5700 rpm),
  • 300 SL-24 with a M104 3.0L 24-valve DOHC Straight-6 (231 PS (228 hp/170 kW) at 6300 rpm),
  • 500 SL with a M119 5.0L 32-valve DOHC V8 engine (326 PS (322 hp/240 kW) at 5500 rpm),

joined in July, 1992 by the,

  • 600 SL with a M120 6.0L 48-valve DOHC V12 engine (389 hp/290 kW) @ 5200 rpm)

There was a choice of 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic for the six-cylinder cars , the V8 and V12 could only be ordered with an automatic gearbox.

In Autumn 1993 Mercedes rearranged names and models. The 300 SL was replaced by the,

  • SL 280 with a M104 2.8L 24-valve DOHC Straight-6 (197 hp(145kW) at 5500 rpm)

and,

  • SL 320 with a M104 3.2L 24-valve DOHC Straight-6 (220 hp (161 kW) at 5500 rpm)

Only the 280 was available with a manual gearbox. SL 500 and 600 continued with their respective engines.

1995 saw a mild facelift concerning head- and taillights and several new features adopted as standard: side air bags, automatic climate control and ESP, among other things. HID headlights were newly optional, as was a full-glass hardtop.

A second facelift, introduced in late 1998, comprised new external mirrors, 17" wheels and new bumpers. Also new were the engines,

  • SL 280 with a M112 2.8L 18-valve SOHC V6 engine (204 PS (201 hp/150 kW) at 5700 rpm),
  • SL 320 with a M112 3.2L 18-valve SOHC V6 engine (224 PS (221 hp/165 kW) at 5600 rpm)

and

  • SL 500 ((306 PS (302 hp/225 kW) at 5600 rpm) - full throttle enrichment removed .

The V12 engine remained unchanged.

Starting in 1994, Mercedes offered special SL models from time to time, like the Mille Miglia edition cars of 1994 or the SL edition of 2000.

North America


In North America, the SL followed the development of the European cars, except that not all engines were available there. The 1989 Mercedes SL base model was the 228 hp 300SL version, but it was the 322 hp 500SL (with a 5.0 L V8 engine) which made the most headlines. For model year 1993, the 600 SL was additionally introduced stateside.

The SL320 replaced the 300SL in the United States in 1995, but the SL280 was not offered. The 6-cylinder SLs were dropped from the US lineup in 1998, leaving just the V8 and V12. The SL500 got the new 302 hp 5.0 L V8 for 1999.

Engine&Drivetrain


1990–1995

300SL

Engine 3.0-liter DOHC 24-valve inline 6-cylinder. 1994: 3.2-liter DOHC 24-valve inline 6-cylinder.

Net power 228 hp @ 6,300 rpm. 1994: 229 hp @ 5,600 rpm. 1995: 228 hp @ 5,600 rpm.

Net torque 201 lb-ft @ 4,600 rpm. 1994: 232 lb-ft @ 3,750 rpm.

Compression ratio 10.0:1

Fuel requirement Premium unleaded gasoline.

Fuel and ignition system KE-5. 1994: HFM fully electronic with integrated ignition.

Transmission 5-speed automatic or 5-speed manual. 1994: 5-speed automatic.

500SL

Engine 5.0-liter twin-DOHC 32-valve aluminum-alloy V-8.

Net power 322 hp @ 5,500 rpm. 1993: 315 hp @ 5,600 rpm.

Net torque 332 lb-ft @ 4,000 rpm. 1993: 347 lb-ft @ 3,900 rpm.

Compression ratio 10.0:1

Fuel requirement Premium unleaded gasoline.

Fuel and ignition system KE-5. 1993: LH electronic.

Transmission 4-speed automatic.

600SL

Engine 6.0-liter twin-DOHC 48-valve aluminum-alloy V-12.

Net power 389 hp @ 5,200 rpm

Net torque 420 lb-ft @ 3,800 rpm

Compression ratio 11.0:1

Fuel requirement Premium unleaded gasoline.

Fuel and ignition system LH electronic.

Transmission 4-speed automatic.

1996–1997

SL320

Engine DOHC 24-valve. Inline 6-cylinder.

Displacement 195.2 cu in/3,199 cc

Net power 228 hp/170 kW @ 5,600 rpm

Net torque 232 lb-ft/315 N.m @ 3,750 rpm

Compression ratio 10.0:1

Fuel requirement Premium unleaded gasoline, 91 pump octane.

Fuel and ignition system ME 2.1 fully electronic fuel injection and ignition with antiknock control.

Transmission Driver-adaptive electronically controlled 5-speed automatic.

Rear axle ratio 3.45:1

Bore x Stroke 3.54x3.30 in/89.9x84.0 mm

Maximum engine speed 6,400 rpm

Alternator output 14V/110 A

Battery rating 12V/100 Ah

Fuel capacity 21.1-2.6 tank-reserve/80.0-10.0 gal/l

Oil capacity 7.4 qt/7.0 l

Coolant capacity 12.1 qt/11.5 l

SL500

Engine Twin DOHC 32-valve. V-8 with alloy block.

Displacement 303.5 cu in/4,973 cc

Net power 315 hp/235 kW @ 5,600 rpm

Net torque 347 lb-ft/470 N.m @ 3,900 rpm

Compression ratio 11.0:1

Fuel requirement Premium unleaded gasoline, 91 pump octane.

Fuel and ignition system ME 1.0 fully electronic fuel injection and ignition with antiknock control.

Transmission Driver-adaptive electronically controlled 5-speed automatic.

Rear axle ratio 2.65:1

Bore x Stroke 3.80x3.35 in/96.5x85.0 mm

Maximum engine speed 6,000 rpm

Alternator output 14V/143 A

Battery rating 12V/100 Ah

Fuel capacity 21.1-2.6 tank-reserve/80.0-10.0 gal/l

Oil capacity 8.5 qt/8.0 l

Coolant capacity 16.4 qt/15.5 l

SL600

Engine Twin DOHC 48-valve. V-12 with alloy block.

Displacement 365.4 cu in/5,987 cc

Net power 389 hp/290 kW @ 5,200 rpm

Net torque 420 lb-ft/570 N.m @ 3,800 rpm

Compression ratio 10.0:1

Fuel requirement Premium unleaded gasoline, 91 pump octane.

Fuel and ignition system ME 1.0 fully electronic fuel injection and ignition with antiknock control.

Transmission Driver-adaptive electronically controlled 5-speed automatic.

Rear axle ratio 2.65:1

Bore x Stroke 3.50x3.16 in/89.0x80.2 mm

Maximum engine speed 6,000 rpm

Alternator output 14V/143 A

Battery rating 12V/100 Ah

Transmission Driver-adaptive electronically controlled 5-speed automatic.

Rear axle ratio 2.65:1

Fuel capacity 21.1-2.6 tank-reserve/80.0-10.0 gal/l

Oil capacity 10.7 qt/10.0 l

Coolant capacity 21.1 qt/20.0 l

Chassis

1990–1995

Front suspension Independent damper struts with separate coil springs and gas-pressurized shock absorbers, triangular lower control arms with antidive geometry and stabilizer bar.

Rear suspension Independent 5-arm multilink with separate single-tube gas-pressurized shock absorbers and coil springs, geometry for antilift, antisquat and alignment control, stabilizer bar.

Wheels 8.0Jx16H2 aluminum alloy.

Tires 225/55 ZR 16 steel-belted radial

Brakes 2-circuit hydraulic power-assisted 4-wheel discs. Antilock Braking System (ABS).

1996–1997

Body construction Monocoque convertible with front and rear crumple zones and removable hardtop.

Front suspension Independent damper strut with antidive geometry and stabilizer bar. Separate shock absorbers and coil springs. Negative-offset steering.

Rear suspension Independent 5-arm multilink with geometry for antilift, antisquat and alignment control and stabilizer bar. Separate shock absorbers and coil springs.

Steering Recirculating ball with speed-sensitive power assist and hydraulic damper. Steering wheel turns (lock-to-lock) 3.0.

Tires Steel-belted radials. Performance 225/55ZR16.

Wheels Aluminum-alloy 8.0Jx16 H2.

Brakes 2-circuit hydraulic power-assisted 4-wheel disc. Ventilated front, solid rear brake discs.

Antilock Braking System (ABS) ABS senses impending wheel lockup under heavy braking and pumps the front brakes individually or the rear brakes together (to help maintain stability), as needed, up to 30 times per second to prevent lockup and maintain steering ability.

Dimensions

1990–1995

300SL

Wheelbase 99.0 in

Curb weight 1989: 3,970 lb 1991: 4,010 lb 1993: 4,035 lb 1994: 4,090 lb

Trunk capacity 7.9 cu ft

Fuel capacity 21.1 gal

500SL

Wheelbase 99.0 in

Curb weight 1989: 4,145 lb 1993: 4,165 lb

Trunk capacity 7.9 cu ft

Fuel capacity 21.1 gal

600SL

Wheelbase 99.0 in

Curb weight 4,455 lb

Trunk capacity 7.9 cu ft

Fuel capacity 21.1 gal

Interior Features

1990–1995

Automatic climate control.

Automatic day/night rearview mirror (1993).

Seating and trim

Leather upholstery.

10-way power seats with 3-position memory.

Audio, navigation and communication

Bose Acoustimass sound system (1994).

Restraint system

SRS with driver air bag.

Front passenger air bag (1991).

Automatic pop-up roll bar.

Exterior Features

1990–1995

Headlamp washers with wipers.

Removable hardtop with electrically heated rear window.

ADS (Adaptive Damping System). (SL600 only)

Removable wind deflector.

8-hole alloy wheels (1994-95).

ASR (Automatic Slip Control).

AMG

1999 Mercedes-Benz SL73 AMG

AMG had already offered an SL version while still independent, the AMG 500 SL 6.0 of 1991. After being taken over by Daimler-Benz, there were several AMG SL-models available through D-B dealers.

The SL60 AMG was extremely rare. Sold from 1993 to 1998, it used a 6.0 litre V8 engine producing 381 PS (376 hp/280 kW) at 5500 rpm[4]. AMG claimed a 0-62 mph (100 km/h) speed of 5.6 seconds. Its top speed was limited to 250 km/h (155 mph), but with the limiter removed, it was capable of approximately 185 mph (298 km/h). AMG later unofficially admitted that 0-60 mph was more like 5.0 seconds and the engine produced between 405-410 bhp.

Also very rare was the SL73 AMG, sold through Mercedes-AMG in 1995, and offering the most powerful V12 engine ever put into an SL up to that time. After a brief hiatus, the SL73 was offered again from 1998 to 2001. The same 7.3 L V12 was later used by Pagani in the Pagani Zonda.

Even more rare is the SL70 AMG.

The SL55 AMG was sold in the R129 bodystyle from 1998 to 2001 in limited quantity (5.4L V8, 354 PS (349 hp/260 kW) at 5500 rpm). It was the predecessor of the production R230 SL55 AMG sold later.

Only about 300 cars in the SL-class were customized by AMG prior to the 2003 model year.

2002 Silver Arrow Edition

2002 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Silver Arrow Edition

Special edition of 2002 SL 500/SL 600 made to celebrate the race car with the same name (from 1930). Two-tone interior leather on steering wheel and seats, special wheels, etc.

Princess Diana ownership

The R129 came into public attention in 1991 when Diana, Princess of Wales sold her Jaguar XJS to lease a J-reg metallic-red 500SL, she became the first member of the royal family to use a foreign car. This was not without controversy as it sparked a media storm as it questioned whether a member of a British royalty should drive foreign cars.[5] Media pressure eventually forced her to return the car to Mercedes-Benz in 1992, which it now resides in the Mercedes-Benz Museum[6]

References

  1. Werner Oswald: Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, vol.5. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 3-613-02131-5, p. 165.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Eberhard Kittler: Deutsche Autos seit 1990, vol. 6. Motorbuch Verlag, Stuttgart 2001, ISBN 0-613-02128-1, p. 215.
  3. Auto Katalog, 2003 edition, p. 312. Note: Figures for 2001 are for calendar year and include early R230 production. Actual Grand Total for R129 probably around 203.000 units.
  4. Automobil Revue, catalogue edition 1995, p. 380.
  5. Diana Vrooms, Unbritishly, In a Mercedes - New York Times
  6. Princess Diana's Mercedes 500SL on Flickr - Photo Sharing!
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