Believe it or not, March is here. Funny to say that since it happens every year, but spring fever is going to get hot and heavy. Especially since, well, you know the drill. With spring, comes convertible season. At least for us who live anywhere else but California and Florida. The options are pretty wide when you are looking for top down cars, but dollar for dollar, the R230 SL55 AMG continues to be one the best values out there. As expected, most of these don’t have many miles on them. Even with that, $25,000 buys you a decent example. However, this 2003 up for sale in Florida has an impressive 98,000 miles. Even better? It’s from the original owner.
I promise that this post wasn’t by design, but rather is completely a coincidence that it follows hot on the heels of the neat supercharged E34 540i 6-speed from yesterday. How do you possibly trump that potent hot rod? Well, starting with a M5 is probably a good bet.
If the E34 was a potent athlete, the E39 comes across as a consummate professional. It was immediately the new benchmark for sports sedans once again, and when BMW finally did make the call to bring a M5 to market they produced what many consider to be the definitive driver’s car in super sedan form. Whatever you had from the period, the M5 was just plain better. With 394 horsepower kicking out of is snorting S62 V8 and mated solely to a 6-speed manual transmission, it was hard to conceive how that package could possibly be improved upon.
That didn’t dissuade Steve Dinan, though. His S2 package fixed a car that wasn’t broken according to Car and Driver. Power was up to a massive 470 yet the car was still naturally aspirated. Bigger, better intake was met with bigger, better exhaust, and the whole package was kept up with bigger, better suspension and slowed down with bigger, better brakes. It was…well, bigger and better. 0-60 was dispatched in a tick over four seconds and it would do a standing quarter-mile in 12.7 seconds. These numbers won’t scare a Dodge Demon, granted, but are still really respectable today.
Of course, if “respectable” isn’t quite enough for you and you really need to surprise that Demon driver…
Of the contemporary Mercedes models, the SL55 AMG is certainly among my favorites. The lines on this car are about as good as it gets for the time period and few Benzes pulled off the double oval headlights as well as the SL did. It is a true testament to the quality of the design that the car still looks fresh even though it’s 12 years old. For me a big part of that formula are the Type V “Turbine” wheels. These have always been my favorites on the R230 cars, they’re equal parts opulence and performance, much like the car itself. An SL55 AMG is one of those cars I will forever aspire to own, if only for a brief period of time because I know the kind of road trips it would inspire me to take. Long jaunts for no apparent reason other than to enjoy the drive and end up at an enjoyable locale, that’s the kind of thing these cars are built for. Could you use one as a daily driver? From a reliability standpoint I’m sure you could, the 5.4L supercharger V8 has proven reliable over the years. I’d certainly have no problem pulling this thing out of a garage every day but in some ways I think that’d defeat the purpose of the car. It’s a purpose built cruiser with loads of power, it begs to be driven hard on long stretches of road. My guess is the seller would agree given that they’re the 3rd owner and the car has just 30k on the clock.