Sold – $45,069 (Plus Fees)
The fourth generation Mercedes SL (R129) was shown with much aplomb to the world in 1989 and not without sound reasoning. The SL was not only a torchbearer to their entire sports car heritage but was now bristling with new technology and mechanical engineering to tackle the nineties. Standard features such as the worlds first automatic anti-roll bar and modern, low-drag aerodynamic body stylings merely skim the surface of the implemented advances. In 1996, the R129 received its first updates and to promote this, the United States received forty specially prepared cars honoring the US 500 Grand Prix. At our auction block right now, we have one of these parade cars for sale with 6,000 miles and was previously owned by Roger Penske.
Painted in one of three colors, our example has a body and removable hardtop finished in Imperial Red (582) while the folding cloth top is dyed black (740). Although there are no records indicating repainting, the front bumper appears to have been resprayed at one time. A removable hardtop with a new headliner is supplied with the purchase and reportedly weighs about 23 lbs less than previous versions. The folding cloth roof itself was an engineering marvel for the nineties. The electro-hydraulic top required less than 30 seconds to open or close, and the side windows are automatically lowered and then reset at completion. When the top is down a fabric screen can be installed behind the seats to eliminate nearly all wind disturbance inside the cabin.
With the update in 1995, Mercedes slightly altered the front fascia with smoother, more flowing features, reduced the number of fender vents from three to two, and introduced bichromatic red and white taillights. However, standard equipment on these special editions included the SL1 Sport Package. This offering incorporated AMG revised front and rear bumpers plus molded side skirts, projector-beam front fog lights, and AMG 5-spoke monoblock alloy wheels with high-performance tires. As a special edition, a US 500 badge adorns the fender just above the fender vents. Our seller informs us that one of the wheels has a small curb mark on its lip and currently, Dunlop tires are strapped to them.
Inside, the cabin shows almost no signs of wear from any surface. The tan Parchment leather (265) seats are electronically adjustable with three memorizable settings for both driver and passenger and embossed into the headrest is the US 500 logo. The seats themselves were, along with the automatically deploying roll-bar, the most significant advancement in technology. Lightweight magnesium alloys made up the frame, and a locking backrest significantly increased resistance to deformation during a crash. Aside from covering the seats, the Parchment leather further extends on to the center console and door panels. Meanwhile, tan carpets cover the floorboards and exclusive floormats with colored US 500 logo protect the passenger and driver footwell carpeting.
Standard equipment on the SL500 was exceptionally high, even with a standard MSRP of nearly $90,000 and the interior panels were also revised during the 1995 refresh. Power windows, an auto-dimming rearview mirror, remote locking with alarm, front and side airbags, automatic climate control, stainless steel Mercedes-Benz door sills, and a 6-speaker Bose sound system with cassette player all came included on the car from the factory. Burled walnut trims the steering wheel, door panels, center console, and gear lever – nicely cultivating a high-class touch. Behind the steering wheel is the original instrumentation cluster, displaying a few miles over 6,000 with 1,000 being added by the seller since 2018.
As the spiritual successor to the 300SL, the SL500 carried on that legacy of lively performance. First for Mercedes, was to improve the chassis rigidity that previously plagued SL models. By adding strengthening struts to the chassis, Mercedes was able to increase torsional stiffness by 30%, which greatly helped handling. Since the SL500 now came with bigger wheels, larger disc brakes enhanced with ABS were able to be fitted. As for the suspension, up front were independent coil-spring shock absorbers paired to a multi-link independent rear suspension. Both were designed with anti-dive/anti-squat countermeasures and our example benefits from the optional Electronic Stability Program (ESP).
Supplying power to the rear wheels was a 5-speed automatic transmission new for 1996. The new transmission not only lighter but was able to adjust shifting to varied driving styles and offers winter and sports modes. The engine, a 5.0-liter V8 touts 315-horsepower at 5,600 rpm with a full offering of 347 lb-ft of torque coming into play at 3,900. This quad-cam V8 also saw improvements implemented in 1995, by modifying the crankshaft, valve timing, lighter pistons, and individual ignition coils with DME revisions. Service records for our example are available back to 2006 and provide evidence of regular maintenance. Recently, all of the fluids were refreshed in preparation for a road trip.
When purchased new by Penske, this SL500 was put on display from 1996 until 2006, accruing less than 300 miles in those ten years. Books and documentation from his dealership verify his ownership. Since this example was an authentic parade car, a VIN-specific certificate signed by racing drivers Emerson Fittipaldi, Paul Tracy, and Al Unser Jr. confirm its presence at the Michigan International Speedway on May 26, 1996. A hat and several stickers from the event are supplied with this purchase alongside the original manuals and window sticker. This SL500 has a clean Carfax report shows no accidents or damages and is sold with a clean Montana title.