Post World War II, the German manufacturing sector and economy attempted to pick itself up – but it was a pretty rocky road. Still, as early as 1950 Western powers were pronouncing the ‘Wirtschaftswunder‘ in the Western side of Germany – a phoenix-like rebirth of the economy overseen by Chancellor Konrad Adenauer. Despite this, it would be decades until this wealth and prosperity really filtered down to the average worker. As a result most drivers in Germany were relegated to very small and efficient cars, with the Volkswagen Beetle being the most successful. But it was far from alone.
I’ve previously looked at some other alternative air-cooled designs from Germany; both the NSU Prinz and BMW 700 challenged the Beetle’s hegemony in the marketplace while offering more style:
1963 BMW 700 Coupe
Feature Listing: 1965 NSU Spider
However, while sporty-looking economy-based cars began to emerge from major manufacturers, microcars were still reasonably popular in the early 1960s though choices were dying out. The Isetta continued to be produced until 1962 and was quite popular. But one other World War II-era name also strangely entered the marketplace – from the makers of some of the most famed fighter planes in history came a single cylinder, two-stroke wingless “car” – the Messerschmitt KR175, 200 and 201 Roadster:
Continuing on my quest to bring you odd color combinations, I present a 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL painted in Impala Brown Metallic with a dark brown top. I’m trying to imagine someone who would walk onto a Mercedes dealer lot in 1991, find the row of R129s, look at all the colors that were offered and say, ”Yes. The brown one. Here is $90,000”. I understand not trying not to stick out or not wanting something flashy, but you shouldn’t be buying a very expensive convertible in the first place if you wanted to blend in with the earth. Yet, someone out there wanted a SL in this color and now they still remain in the garages of retirees to take out for a drive on a nice day. This example up for sale outside of Philadelphia seems to be exactly that. Owned by the same person for the past 18 years but now ready for a new home. Thing is, you aren’t getting a deal on the drab color. At least not this one.
Back in the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz really started hitting their stride with producing a bunch of special editions that were all made up whenever they felt they need. Most of the time they just threw whatever they had in the parts bin on the cars when it came to paint colors, wheels, interior trim and then would finish it off by calling up their graphic designers to whip up a unique logo to stick around the car. Today’s car, a 2000 SL320 Mille Miglia, is exactly that.
Back in 1995, Mercedes actually launched a Millie Miglia edition to commemorate the 40th anniversary of Stirling Moss’s and Dennis Jenkinsonâ€™s win of the 1955 Mille Miglia road race. A nice gesture for sure, but I’m sure this decision was highly influenced, if not totally, by getting ready to launch a major facelift in 1996 for the R129 and they wanted to move all the old stock out. Offered on the SL280, SL320, and SL500, it was nothing more than some red inserts on the leather seats, carbon fiber trim with some red weave in it and some leftover EVO 2 wheels from, you guessed it, the parts bin. Then in 2000, Mercedes made another Mille Miglia edition, but just made 12 cars. Why 12 cars? Well, that is how many they needed to usher around VIPs at the Rally 1000 Miglia in Italy. In 2001, the final year of the R129, they again made 13 cars all based off the SL600. So what is unique about these cars? Well, it is basically a Silver Arrow with some badges on the outside and a little sticker on the ashtray door. That’s it. Lean manufacturing must be big at Mercedes.
Now that I’ve exhausted all of the nice Mercedes-Benz R129s currently on the market, I wanted to wander over to the R230 to see how things are going with the first SL with a folding hard top. The R230 was a giant leap forward in terms of styling and technology compared to the R129 as now the normally boxy and square roadster suddenly didn’t have a flat edge on the entire car. It was what needed to be done to keep the car relevant in the new millennium with the legacy buyers coming back as well as capture the hearts of all the new money buyers that wanted a sleek roadster that didn’t feel like an old man or woman’s car that was driven to the country club on a Sunday morning to play golf. It is tough to stay that Mercedes didn’t succeed in that as even now that the R230 is 17 years-old, it still doesn’t look or feel that age. Sure, some of the tech is dated, but getting in of these cars doesn’t scream ”this car can legally buy cigarettes next year” old.
Of course, with the introduction of the SL500 and V12 SL600 in the R230, Mercedes stepped up their game in the US market by giving customers the SL55 AMG that was a hit as soon as they landed on dealer lots. A 0-60 time in 4.4 seconds thanks to 493 horsepower and 520 lbâ‹…ft of torque, the SL55 wore the crowd of the fastest automatic transmission car in the world for a short time before the big brother SLR came on to the scene in 2003. The SL55 continued to be the model of choice over the more expensive V12 SL600 until it was replaced by the SL63 in 2008. The SL65 AMG joined the lineup in 2005 with its twin-turbocharged V12 making an insane 604 horsepower and 738 lbâ‹…ft of torque, but also carried a price tag starting at $185,000. Needless to say, the SL55 remained the best bang for the buck at a still very expensive $115,000, but was a bargain compared to competitors Ferrari 360 and Aston Martin’s DB7 Volante in terms of both purchase price and cost of running. Today, the SL55 sits in that no man’s land of not old enough to be considered a classic and not modern enough to be considered by people who want to be impressed by a bunch of tech. Add in the fact that the running costs can scare some people off, a Corvette seems like a much better buy for the convertible crowd who take Sunday cruises to the Daily Queen. What does that mean for prices on these beasts? Very good things if you are willing to commit to owning one. At least this example up for sale in North Carolina proves that.
I know everyone might be getting just a little sick of all the silver R129 Mercedes-Benz models I’ve been covering as of late, but I promise this one is worth it. This is a 1997 Mercedes-Benz SL60 AMG up for sale just outside of London. The backstory on the SL60 AMG is a little murky but I’m going to try to explain it the best I can. These cars were officially sold through Mercedes as a SL60 from 1993 to 1998, meaning when you run the VIN it comes back as a SL60 and not just as SL500s that were converted after the fact like we see a lot of times. There wasn’t much fanfare or marketing for these; they made somewhere between 1000 and 1500 with all of them being sold anywhere but North America.
The modifications are what you might have guessed: the 5.0 liter M119 converted to a 6.0 liter that made a conservative 381 horsepower. The rest of the stuff depended on the year and what the AMG factory felt like putting in the car. I don’t have any explanation as to why some cars were sold with Xenon and some weren’t. The same went with the interior changes as some cars got AMG gauge clusters while some didn’t and some interiors were crazy colors but others were just standard R129 interiors from that year. I believe that all the cars, except the very early ones, received the two-piece AMG wheels in the staggered setup. Today’s car is one of the few right hand drive examples that were built and honestly priced pretty reasonable in the grand scheme of things.
The past few weeks I’ve come across a few Mercedes-Benz SL500 Silver Arrows that have garnered some attention. This car in Florida ended up selling for $16,900 and this car in Atlanta looks like it is still for sale. Today, I came across one of the 100 SL600 Silver Arrows that were made for the US market. The SL600s differed from the SL500s in that they didn’t receive the two-tone white interior but it did get the very pricey panoramic glass hardtop as standard. You also got a cool metal briefcase with some goodies inside of it that matches the car. Of course, you paid for all that at nearly $140,000 in 2002. Today, I have found one of these SL600 Silver Arrows for sale in Texas with just 5,400 miles. The price? Well, if we are on planet earth, this price is somewhere on Neptune. Seriously, I spit water on monitor when I saw this number and I wasn’t even drinking anything at the time. It is just that crazy.
Last week on Christmas day I looked at a 2002 Mercedes-Benz SL500 Silver Arrow that had a little bit of a mixed reaction. Even though it had only 70,000 miles and spent the majority of its life in Florida, the wood on the center console had some odd stuff going on with it. That is often the one minus of cars in the regions of no snow: you have to deal with the heat, along with the sun, that can wreak havoc on wood and leather. For the $17,000 asking price, you could probably find a better car or at least a better deal if you planned on driving it regularly. Today, I might have found that better deal. This Silver Arrow up for sale Atlanta, Georgia has 40,000 more miles but of course has some flaws to go along with those miles. The good news is the price is much cheaper than $17,000. How cheap?
Update 12/25/18: This Silver Arrow is listed as sold for $16,900.
Last weeks very special 1970 Mercedes-Benz 300SEL 6.6 was one of the most interesting cars I’ve looked at in a while but one of our readers spotted something in the background. As you might have noticed, that something was a R129 SL500 Silver Arrow. Today’s vehicle isn’t that same car because that dealer doesn’t seem to have it listed for sale, but it is another very nice Silver Arrow so I figured that will work just fine. This one up for sale in Florida checks in with just a hair under 70,000 miles and honestly, has a very fair price on it. How much?
Update 12/17/19: It appears this listing was fraudulent – sometimes if it looks to good to be true…
Last week I checked back in on the Mercedes-Benz 190SL with the craziest engine swap I’ve ever seen in W121, a Toyota 1UZ-FE. Despite it being a very nice and exceptionally clean build, the new $160,000 price tag still has it for sale with no takers yet. It is one thing to convince someone to spend $160,000 and a whole other thing to convince them to spend it on a 1962 Mercedes convertible with a Toyota engine. Naturally, I wanted to flip it 180 degrees and look at a totally stock 190SL and a much more reasonable price tag. This 1960 up for sale in Massachusetts is actually a really nice example for 133,000 miles and has an even better price tag. How much?
Nearly six months later, this 190SL with the crazy IUZ-FE swap is still for sale with a new price of $169,000. If you are keeping score at home, that is $10,000 more than what it was previously listed at. Bold strategy.
File this one under the category of something you don’t see every day … or ever. I know you are probably wondering why I am looking at another 190SL when I just recently featured one, but as you can judge by the title, this isn’t your standard 190SL. Somehow, someway, this classic 1962 Mercedes roadster is powered by theÂ 1UZ-FE 4.0-liter Lexus V8. Even more, it is mated to a 5-speed manual transmission and a limited-slip differential. All of this work looks factory, as factory as a 1962 car with a Lexus V8 can look, and performs just as well. I’m still trying to wrap my head around this one and I imagine you are too.