I Love the 90s? 1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SL

Last week Craig looked at a really nice early R129 500SL. Today’s car is another early R129 500SL, but as you can probably tell, this one is a bit different. This 1990 for sale in Orange County, CA comes from an era where you actually had to paint a car to change its color. It’s a rolling piece of 1990s car culture and it hasn’t aged particularly well. I compare it to a nice house that hasn’t updated the kitchen in 25 years. It’s not that the workmanship is low, it’s that time has left it behind. Now of course with any custom car, it’s priced way too high and has some strange things going on with it.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SL on Orange County Craigslist

Year: 1990
Model: 500SL
Engine: 5.0 liter V-8
Transmission: 4-speed automatic
Mileage: 85,730 mi
Price: $13,995

A unique, one of a kind, customized Mercedes-Benz SL500. This car has new B.F Goodrich tires, rebuilt suspension, all new shocks and struts, new conv. tan top, and all original leather tan interior. This auto was customized by Santini with AMG bumpers and trim, Lorinser wheels, and the PPG Harlequin, Vibrance PPG-VM, green to purple paint that changes color as lights hits at different angles. Custom electronics offer remote starting, door and window operations, and remote convertible top opening.

At first glance, I thought this car was customized basically right off the lot. It has all the period correct items like the chameleon paint, early R129 AMG bumpers and sideskirts, Lorinser wheels and remote everything. But upon closer inspection, this car has the 1996-2002 side vents on the fenders. 1990 to 1995 R129s have three squared slots but in 1996 those were swapped out for two slots that were rounded. So if I had to guess, the paintwork and probably all of the other modifications didn’t happen until at least 1996.…

1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL

The R129, produced between 1989 and 2002, is a bit of an odd duck. It’s too old for those in the market for a roadster with modern levels of power and convenience. But it’s not yet old enough (or rare enough) to be of interest to collectors or vintage aficionados. The upshot is that a nice example can be had for relatively little money and it might well appreciate in value over the coming decade, following R107 values through the roof. The 600SL was the halo car of the lineup, with a monster of a V12 under the hood. But the 500SL – powered by a 5.0 liter V8 that developed a perfectly usable 320 hp – is where real value for money can be found. Perhaps not as sporting as one would hope, these SLs nonetheless continue in a long line of high quality boulevard cruisers known for their high precision engineering, longevity and classic good looks.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL on eBay

Ending Soon – What We’re Watching

I’ve got my eye on another interesting and diverse set of affordable no reserve auctions this week. Take a look and feel free to chime in where you think cars will end! Let’s get things rolling with this BMW E28 with only a few hours remaining:

Click for Details: 1987 BMW 535is

This 1987 BMW 535is is definitely on the driver-quality side rather than a show piece; but all the important bones are there and the rust-free claim is worth its weight in 1980s Bavarian metal, anyway. Overall, though there are some obvious needs, for a 200,000 mile car it looks reasonably tidy and so far bidding is only at $2,500.

Click for Details: 2002 Volkswagen Jetta TDi Wagon

In an era of Volkswagen production that saw a sharp upswing in quality and performance, who would have guessed that the second most desirable model in the used market (outside of the R, obviously) is a Jetta Wagon with the diesel motor? Unlike its bigger brother Passat TDi Variant, the Jetta could be had with a 5-speed manual and they’ve developed a cult following. This one ticks the right boxes with lower miles, what appears to be good condition and the ALH/5-speed manual combination in a wagon, so bids are nearly at $7,000 with a few hours to go on the no reserve auction.

Click for Details: 1997 BMW M3 Sedan

After yesterday’s polarizing M3 Lightweight, we’re back to normal series production (and lower prices) with this still desirable M3 Sedan. In -3/4/5 configuration, these have quickly become the preferred weapon of choice for the practical E36 lover. In Artic Silver with Dove interior, this one isn’t stock, but with under 100,000 miles and in good condition, it looks like a solid investment at under $9,000 at time of writing.

Click for Details: 2000 Audi S4

An interesting, and more potent, counterpoint to the M3/4/5 is the Audi S4.…

Tuner Tuesday – Roll the Dice? 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL AMG

A few weeks ago, I wrote a “Roll the Dice” article about a European specification 380SE with a host of period AMG bits. However, there was no supporting documentation that the car was actually an AMG car and, notably, several items were incorrect. The verdict was that without that documentation, it was probably overpriced for what it was. Today I’m back with another white “AMG” – this time, a pre-merger R129 500SL. Again, we get little documentation on what is reportedly a Japanese-specification 500SL with AMG bits. Is it worth a roll of the dice this time?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL on eBay

1992 Mercedes-Benz 500SL

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A new week, a new R129. This reason I chose this 500SL was of course this wonderfully 90s color of Teal Blue Metallic combined with Lago Metallic. It’s one of those love it or hate color combinations that are tied to an era. You don’t see a lot of colors like these on new cars, if any. But I think of it like the rainbow of colors from the 70s and 80s that were featured on the W115, W123, R113, and so on. These crazy color combos are now admired over the typical sliver, black or even worse, tan. The thing is, color combinations like this only work if they are taken care of. And this 1992 500SL for sale in St. Louis certainly looks like it was.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1992 Mercedes-Benz 500SL on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 500SL AMG

It would be easy to assume that AMG didn’t breath on the R107 chassis, instead focusing on the coupes and sedans that made them famous. The feel of the roadster is decidedly different and more cruiser than the Autobahn destroyers that the company produced. But AMG did produce parts for the SL – it’s just that not many were modified in the same vein as their stablemates. When properly presented, though, they do manage to channel AMG’s best qualities well. Subtle upgrades all around led to a more aggressive aesthetic, but not one that was ever over the top. And the SL remained one of the few premium convertibles you could buy in the 1980s, so unless you undertook an expensive conversion to a coupe, the topless R107 was a natural choice for the well-to-do who also loved wind in their hair. Yet most of these SLs ended up primarily as appearance packages – but they still make a statement:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1985 Mercedes-Benz 500SL AMG on eBay

Tuner Tuesday Pre-Merger Madness: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.2 and 1990 Mercedes-Benz 500SL AMG 6.0

Such is the pedestal AMG products are placed upon, perhaps it’s only Ruf that is better regarded as the leading tuning firm from Germany in the 1980s. Combining revised suspension, special exhaust and warmed over motors, AMG managed to straddle the line between outrageous and tasteful in the 1980s perfectly with wild body modifications that somehow worked just perfectly. Inside, they were the most opulent German cars you could buy with power seats and all the luxury items you’d expect from a top-tier luxury manufacturers. But the bad boys from Affalterbach, like the Ruf cars, managed to be more than the sum of their parts – a total package that is still stunning today. They didn’t just bolt on a bunch of bits to make a go-faster car. AMG redefined the packages of the car, bringing them to another level. Today we have two examples to consider from the end of AMG’s independence – which is the perfect creation from the 1980s for you?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1989 Mercedes-Benz 300E AMG 3.2 on eBay

Tuner Tuesday: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500SL RENNtech 6.0 “SLammer”

Since their launch, the R129 Mercedes-Benz SLs have held my attention. Perhaps it’s because I was heading towards driving age when I first got to sit in a then-new 500SL, but regardless of the motivation I really wanted one. My father used to take me to the local Mercedes-Benz dealership in his W113, so even though I was a child who grew up in the 1980s I was never particularly partial to the R107 – and I’m still not. Early Euro-spec cars look nice to me, but for the most part they look a bit too soft and large. So the R129 was a revelation – it looked substantially more sporty and was thanks to a new 5.0 V8 good for 320 horsepower mated to a 5-speed automatic transmission. But for some well-heeled enthusiasts, the $100,000 price tag (in 1993!) wasn’t enough. AMG was in a state of flux in the early 1990s, but there was a new kid in town that was grabbing some serious headlines – RENNtech:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500SL 6.0 on eBay

Wednesday Wheels Roundup

Time for another wheel roundup, and as I’m just in for winterizing the Audi and swapping the snow wheels onto the Subaru, I’ve got the chunky winter tires on my mind. Just because you’re swapping on the winter duds doesn’t mean you can’t still be in style on a budget, and today I’ve got a few sets that look like a great deal. The Audi B8 wheels are awesome looking – factory wheels aren’t the lightest, but they’re well made, well finished and look great on a number of newer Audis. For only $650, this set with caps looks awesome. The Tiguan wheels are the only non-stock wheels here, being made by Sport Edition. It’s a popular Tire Rack winter brand that looks reasonable and gets the job done. With few miles on that set of tires, it looks like an awesome deal at under $500. The Beetle wheels fit a bunch of the Mk.4/A3/TT models, and the brand new factory wheels and new tires mounted for under $800 seems like money well spent. Then BMW wheels are a bit more pricey but look overall to be in good shape. Then there are the factory 8″ Mercedes wheels, off either a 500SL or 500E. With some chunky looking rubber and no reserve, at the current bid of $250 they’re an absolute steal.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: Audi B8 18×8, 5×112 Wheels on eBay

Crockett or Tubbs? 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500SL Custom

There’s an absolutely classic scene in the Adam Sandler movie The Wedding Singer in which the Miami Vice obsessed character Glenn Guglia pulls up in his DeLorean DMC12 with the theme song from the popular show blasting. The character was the perfect caricature of 1980s excess, and the show was the pulse of the nation at that time. The brightly colored polos with white suits, dark aviator sunglasses and devil-may-care attitude of the protagonists are as classically ’80s as the bad plot developments and cliche catchphrases. And then there were the cars; the twin replica Ferraris are both notorious and inseparable from the show; the white Testarossa was the car to have – impossibly cool and improbably ostentatious at the same time. The period spawned an entire industry of cars; perhaps an unfitting tribute, but today they’re always a bit of a treat to see. It’s not so much that I want them; they’re just like perfect time pieces that throw you back to another time. And as with #ThrowbackThursday posts that seem to riddle the web, this 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500SL immediately reminded me of legwarmers, INXS and Vuarnet shirts:

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1984 Mercedes-Benz 500SL Custom on eBay