The R129 has always been my favorite iteration of the SL roadster. Softer and more modern than the classic R107 that it replaced, but still sufficiently angular that it doesn’t succumb to the awful jelly bean aesthetic of the late 80s and early 90s, the quintessentially Mercedes design remains attractive today; sporty and taut yet elegant and handsome. While most US buyers opted for the V8 500SL or the range topping and magnificent V12 in the 600SL, the car could also be had with an entry level 3.0 liter straight six, as found in this 300SL version. Already a relatively uncommon spec, this car features the especially rare manual gearbox, available only on six cylinder R129s.
CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SL for sale on eBay
Mercedes Benz 1991 300SL
The legendary 300SL nameplate was resurrected for the 1990 model year with the release of the much anticipated R129 Mercedes SL Roadster. Available in the US as either a 5.0 liter 32V V8 paired to a 4-spd automatic, or an inline 24v 6-cylinder model paired to either a 5-spd automatic or manual transmission, named the 500SL and 300SL respectively.
The 300SL nameplate dates back to the fantastic gullwing and roadster race inspired cars of the 1950’s and early 60’s, today commanding prices in the millions.
The tank like build quality of the R129 series was long in development to become the safest, most well-built sports car of its time, replacing the aging 560SL or R107 which had been in production nearly 18 years. New safety regulations and and changing tastes required a ground up redesign. At the time there was no car in production that could compete with the all-around performance safety and comfort of the R129 SL. Commanding premium sticker prices and year long wait times.
Considered by most MB enthusiasts as one of the best built SL’s ever it featured dual airbags, a safety roll bar which automatically deployed if a sensor on the wheels detected danger. Revolutionary at the time and still to this day one of the safest cars every made.
This lovingly cared for 300SL has been garaged and serviced regularly. It has its original paint with no fading and minimal wear. The lower plastic panels were painted it the body color, at the time they were two tone and most would agree its compliments the car. They job was done very well as all the panels were removed to be painted. The seats are in great conditions, the plastic pieces around the mirror are intact and it functions property, all in all a very well preserved example.
The 5-spd manual is the rarest of all the R129 and a very unpopular car at the time with a manual transmission. Today they are very sought after as only 166 were estimated to have been imported in 1991 and around 400 in the 3 years of production. Car is located in Palm Beach, Florida and can be seen upon appointment. Please call Michael at (561) 801-2668 with any questions. Thank you.
The silver exterior on this car looks fantastic. Gleaming in the bright light of the Florida sun, the metallic paintwork appears to be in excellent condition and accentuates the good looks of the R129 design. The owner notes that the lower cladding panels, once a different tone, have been repainted to match the rest of the body color. I think this works very well but potential buyers might want to ask for more details about the repaint in case it was done following accident damage (no mention of any accidents is made in the ad). The gray leather interior looks equally clean.
The 300SL is powered by the M104 engine, a 3.0 liter 24-valve DOHC unit good for about 228 hp. Given the relative heft of the car, when specified with this powerplant the SL is definitely more suited to boulevard cruising than drag racing; those seeking more power should look to the V8 and V12 models instead. But at least you get to change the gears for yourself on this one. The weakness of the M104 engine has traditionally been the head gasket, though the seller specifically notes that there are no issues with it on this one.
Back in January, Paul wrote up another 5-speed 300SL priced at an incredible $30k. At the time, some of our readers commented that the notchy transmission on these is actually a little disappointing. I’ll have to take them at their word since I haven’t tried it myself. But at least this example is priced much more reasonably than that earlier car. $10k really isn’t a lot of money for the style and substance on offer here and the gearbox, whether notchy or not, at least helps to mitigate for the relatively modest amount of power available from the 6 cylinder engine.