The R129, Is It A Criminally Forgotten Merc?

Automologist KEVIN shines a spotlight on this collectable. 

The SL has been the pinnacle of Mercedes’ sports range since the 1950s, ever since the birth of the iconic 300SL, with its futuristic gullwing doors and swooping bonnet, to the latest, very desirable R231 SL. Mercedes is currently in the final phases of testing for the next-generation SL, the R232, which is scheduled for launch in 2022.

Is it Super-Leicht or Sport-Leicht? It was never really defined by Mercedes at that time. It wasn’t until 2017 when someone went through the corporate archive and clarified that the abbreviation SL indeed stood for Super-Leicht.

The SL has changed immeasurably. With every new birth, the SL introduced more power and luxury to satisfy all SL lovers. The longest-running SL was the R107 model, introduced in 1971. Although not as rare as you would expect, finding that model in good condition can be somewhat challenging, making it a much sought-after collectable. Prices of the R107 has climbed a lot since the early 2000s.

Launched in 1989, the R129 model was a revelation, a technological sensation that immediately moved Mercedes’ game forward by decades. The prices for R129s in decent condition have been on the rise in the past years and this simply means that this model is on its way to becoming a recognized classic and not just a car that lives in the shadow of its illustrious predecessors. So, can we call this a future classic?

In short, YES! In fact, the R129 has always been a modern classic. It was a classic the day it was born. I’m noticing that this SL is beginning to get a fair bit of attention from investors, not just enthusiasts. It is estimated that the value of The R129 in the last five years has been on an increase of 30 to 35% in value, with very low mileage models in excellent working condition demanding more. Of course, this is no doubt due to their fantastic build quality, practicality, Bruno Sacco’s timeless design and sophisticated craftsmanship. The R129 will be the best classic SL to own, in my opinion. Not only has it not decline in price for a few years now, but it is also not easy to find one that can be driven without any work on it, especially with its electronic folding roof.

There are a few in less desirable conditions that are going for anything between the RM 55,000 to RM75,000 range. Most of those available in Malaysia are the 300SL 24 valve models. The rare gems are the 280SL, 320SL and the 500SL. It’s almost impossible to find a 600SL here.

If you are looking to add one to your collection, apart from the roof, you may also want to be wary of deplorable interiors, which simply indicates that the car lacked care. The interior of the R129 is laden with all sorts of electric and electronic wizardry, so it’s best to check that all electrics work. Interior parts can be costly too: the less worn they are, the better the deal would be. Interior parts are rare and very expensive. In any case, if your pocket permits, these cars are one of the best Mercs to invest in. Good luck finding one.

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