Is the Mercedes Benz R129 SL a future classic?

Is the Mercedes Benz R129 SL a future classic?

Is the R129 SL a good investment? 

Could you call the R129 SL a future classic? In short - yes. In fact, the R129 is a current classic. It was a classic the day it was born in 1989.

I'm noticing that the SL is beginning to get attention from investors, rather than just enthusiasts. Bruno Sacco's range of two door R129 SL roadsters (wiki), in production 1989-2001, are known for their fantastic build quality, timeless design and sophisticated craftsmanship. And they have kept brilliantly.

Future Outlook

The R129 is seen today as a highly desirable modern practical classic car. It commands a higher average price than its successor, the R230 SL, not least due to its mechanical simplicity. The value of the R129 has not declined for some considerable time. 

Doubly, the car is experiencing a surge in popularity and market value, making it a fantastic choice for investors. Our sources estimate, over the last five years, a 30-35% increase in the value of mid-spec examples. Low mileage cars have seen a 90-125% increase.

History dictates that decent examples of this model will continue to appreciate, with the very best rising to many times their initial value. The V12 model can still fetch £30k or more at auction. Facelifted models are generally more sought after, which come with a number of higher quality fixtures, fittings and parts.

".. the [R129] SL is handsome and has plenty of smooth power from its V6, V8 or even V12 engine. Best of all, it’s half the price of its SL R107 predecessor yet much easier to live with. Rare AMG models and special editions will increase in value more than standard cars" - Jeremy Clarkson

R129 Model Investment Comparison Chart

Here is a summary of the good and bad habits of each R129 model, from the perspective of an investor:

R129 SL Model The Good The Bad
300  Entry level price Agricultural performance 
300 SL-24 Valve Pure classic KE-jetronic fuel system is tricky to diagnose 
280 & 320 V6 Gutsy, pretty much bombproof engines

Easy to diagnose issues and parts aplenty
Interior build quality lacking

Mercedes no longer supplying coded key fobs, and matching corresponding ECU (update 2021: Mercedes are now supplying fobs)

The later central locking pumps are no longer available
500 SL

Big grunt

KE-jetronic fuel system is tricky to diagnose
SL 500
Superb M119 engine It can bite you in the wet
600 SL & SL 600
Top of the range Pre ’96 running issues complex to diagnose
SL55 AMG / SL60 AMG / SL70 AMG / SL72 / SL73 Rare and desirable Nobody knows their value!

Closing Thoughts

The SL 500, years 1997-1999, is by far the best build quality of the R129’s. The Motronic engine is easy to diagnose, and the build is pretty bomb proof. This is the best R129 to buy in my opinion.

Thanks, and good luck! Carl

23rd Apr 2021 Carl

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