Best Mercedes SL To Buy Used: Top Picks

Best Mercedes SL To Buy Used – Are you on the lookout for the perfect Mercedes SL to grace your garage? The Mercedes-Benz SL, standing for “Sport Leicht” or “Sport Lightweight,” has been an illustrious part of Stuttgart’s automotive history since its inception in the mid-1950s, emerging as a post-World War II sports car that embodies elegance, performance, and innovation.

The landscape of Mercedes-Benz SL models encompasses a diverse array of legacies, resonating with enthusiasts and collectors alike.

This exciting adventure as we navigate through the annals of Mercedes-Benz history to unearth the Best Mercedes SL To Buy Used, charting a course from the inception of these iconic roadsters to the cutting-edge innovations shaping the latest offerings.

Best Mercedes SL To Buy Used

Among these, the consideration of purchasing a used Mercedes-Benz SL involves a multitude of factors, from the allure of the design to the reliability of various iterations over the years.

Best Year Mercedes SL To Buy

The allure of iconic models from different generations often captures the imagination of enthusiasts.

The Mercedes-Benz SL lineage encompasses a rich history, with specific models standing out for their design, performance, and lasting appeal.

R129 (1989-2001) – The Great Rebirth

Best Mercedes SL To Buy Used

The R129 marked a quantum leap in comparison to its predecessor, the R107. Launched in 1989, it set a new industry standard, excelling in design, performance, and technological advancements.

Offering a diverse engine lineup comprising inline-six, V6, V8, and for the first time, a V12, this series embodied a versatile and balanced approach.

With Bruno Sacco’s timeless design and a driving experience that defined an era, the R129 remains a classic that continues to influence modern-day Mercedes-Benz models.

Despite its virtues, some drawbacks, especially related to hydraulic issues, marred the R129’s otherwise stellar reputation. Its complex hydraulic suspension, while providing an exceptional ride when functioning optimally, often faced glitches and expensive repair costs.

Additionally, the hydraulic system responsible for raising and lowering the canvas top relied on multiple cylinders prone to leakage and wear.

However, despite these limitations, the R129 series remains relatively affordable in the used car market, although its value is gradually appreciating.

Read Also: Mercedes SL Years To Avoid

W113 (1963-1971) – The Trailblazer

Best Year Mercedes SL To Buy

Another noteworthy model in the SL lineage is the W113 series, produced from 1963 to 1971. Often regarded as a trailblazer, this iteration addressed the need for enhanced performance, departing from its underpowered predecessor, the W121 190SL.

With modern design cues by Paul Bracq and improved straight-six engines with fuel injection, the W113 SL offered robust engineering and power outputs ranging from 150 to 170 horsepower.

Its unibody construction, coupled with striking design elements, established it as a capable and stylish sports car for its time.

The W113 SL played a pivotal role in shaping the direction for future SL models, earning its place as one of the greatest SLs of all time.

R230 (2002-2011) – The New Millennium SL

Best Year Mercedes SL To Buy

Following the success of the R129, the R230 series introduced in 2002 faced high expectations. While it maintained the SL legacy, its design language and the introduction of a hard retractable top stirred mixed reactions among enthusiasts.

However, a 2008 restyling rejuvenated its appeal, extending its market presence until its discontinuation in 2011.

Notably, the updated version unveiled the SL65 AMG Black Series, boasting a staggering 670-horsepower twin-turbo V12 engine, blurring the line between standard SLs and the high-performance AMG range.

Yet, despite its advancements, the R230 series eventually declined, overshadowed by newer models and the evolving automotive landscape.

R107 (1971-1989) – The Evolution and Challenges

Best Year Mercedes SL To Buy

The R107 marked a pivotal transition for the SL, evolving into a grand tourer with the inclusion of V8 engines. Introduced as the third generation, it heralded a new design direction for Mercedes-Benz, featuring sleek, streamlined silhouettes and flush horizontal headlights.

Its initial reception was promising, aligning with the automotive industry’s demands of the time.

However, the R107 faced challenges amid the big oil and safety crisis of the early 1970s. The uncertainty surrounding the future of convertibles led many manufacturers to reconsider their drop-top offerings.

Despite its initial success, the R107 continued production until 1989, sporting chrome or federal bumpers that echoed its early 1970s design.

This prolonged existence nurtured a nostalgic appeal, bordering between being an icon and falling into the realm of cliché.

The R107’s endurance until the late 1980s, coupled with its association with popular culture, adds to its unique place in the SL legacy.

W121 190SL (1955-1963) – The Elegant Boulevardier

Best Mercedes SL To Buy Used

As a derivative of the famed 300SL Roadster, the W121 190SL offered a more affordable entry into the ‘Sport Leicht’ arena. Its captivating design, reminiscent of its larger counterpart, exuded elegance and charm. However, beneath its attractive exterior lay fundamental differences from the 300SL.

To maintain affordability, Mercedes-Benz constructed the 190SL on a W121 sedan platform, diverging significantly from the purpose-built tubular chassis of the 300SL.

Equipped with a twin-carbureted inline-four engine producing a modest 105 horsepower, the 190SL struggled to match its striking aesthetics with formidable performance.

Despite efforts to enhance its power, none of the proposed upgrades materialized, leaving the 190SL renowned for its looks rather than sporting prowess.

Nevertheless, the 190SL retains its status as a sought-after classic, revered for its timeless design and historical significance within the brand’s repertoire.

Read Also: Best Year for Mercedes SL550

R231 (2013-2020) – Struggles and Challenges

Best Mercedes SL To Buy Used

The R231 SL, while not inherently flawed, faced significant hurdles during its production run. It struggled to gain prominence amidst in-house competition, finding itself sandwiched between the performance-oriented AMG GTC roadster and the opulent S-Class Cabriolet.

This positioning posed challenges, particularly with younger audiences, leading to a lack of recognition and market share.

Despite efforts to reduce weight and retain the powerful V12-powered SL65 AMG variant, the R231 SL was perceived predominantly as a comfortable cruiser rather than a dynamic sports car.

Resembling the fate of the R107 in the late 1980s, the R231 catered primarily to well-off retirees, resulting in limited appeal and recognition.

Unlike its predecessor, the R231 failed to capture the essence of an SL, earning it the last place in the SL lineage.

R232 SL (2022-) – A Rejuvenated Legacy

Best Mercedes SL To Buy Used

The 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL, known as the R232, emerges as a beacon of hope for the SL dynasty, curated by AMG to inject vitality into the nameplate.

Its design exudes sharpness and dynamism, a testament to the SL’s pursuit of restoring its former glory as an exclusive, technologically advanced driver’s car.

The R232 garnered attention for retaining V8 power while embracing a ragtop, catering to traditional SL aficionados.

Although met with mixed reactions—applause for maintaining V8 power and criticism for introducing the entry-level 2023 SL 43 with an inline-four—the four-cylinder variant delivers an impressive 318 horsepower and 353 lb-ft of torque.

Utilizing an F1-derived electric exhaust gas turbocharger marks a first in production cars, accentuating its technological innovation.

For enthusiasts seeking a traditional SL experience, the SL 63 and SL 55 feature a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged AMG V8, boasting 577 and 469 horsepower, respectively.

Initial reviews of the R232 SL have been overwhelmingly positive, signaling a promising resurgence for Mercedes-Benz. However, it remains early to cement its definitive place in the SL’s storied history.

Is The Mercedes SL Class Reliable?

The reliability of the Mercedes SL Class, it’s important to note that it falls into the category of exclusive vehicles. This exclusivity means that there’s not an abundance of data to provide a comprehensive reliability score for the individual model.

Nevertheless, taking a broader look at the brand can give us some insight into what you might expect.

Mercedes as a brand has had its ups and downs in terms of reliability. In the most recent survey of 30 car manufacturers, it placed 22nd, falling behind its arch-nemesis, BMW.

This is something worth considering if you’re weighing up the pros and cons of investing in a Mercedes SL Class vehicle.

What is the best year for SL 55?

The SL 55 is indeed a gem in the Mercedes SL line, offering an enticing combination of performance and luxury. While it’s tempting to dive in headfirst, we advise exercising some caution when considering the year of the model.

Specifically, we recommend steering clear of the 2003 and 2004 models.

So, which year should you focus on instead? Well, our top pick would be the 2005 model. Why so? The 2005 SL 55 strikes a fine balance between affordability and reliability, two factors crucial to any car purchase decision.

Plus, it doesn’t skimp on the goodies – it boasts all the standard features and high-tech gadgets that you’d expect from a Mercedes SL.

Now, if you’ve got your sights set on the 2007 model, you might be eyeing the subtle upgrades it brings to the table.

However, for our money, the 2005 model remains the clear winner, offering a fantastic mix of price, performance, and dependability without compromising on the luxury features synonymous with the Mercedes brand.

What year is the best for 450 SL?

Embarking on the journey of owning a Mercedes 450SL is an exciting adventure, with a range of models to explore. But if you’re seeking the optimum blend of aesthetics, reliability, and cost-effectiveness, the 1972 model is a standout choice.

The 1972 Mercedes 450SL exhibits a distinctive design that perfectly encapsulates the brand’s blend of luxury and sportiness. It stands as a testament to Mercedes’ design prowess in the 70s, exuding an air of elegance and charm that few other models can rival.

When it comes to reliability, this model doesn’t disappoint. The 1972 450SL carries with it a reputation for being robust and dependable. With a well-maintained model, you can expect to experience the joy of driving a vintage Mercedes without frequent trips to the repair shop.

But, it’s not just about looks and reliability. A significant advantage of the 1972 450SL is its affordability when compared to other models in the 450SL lineup. Despite its desirable features and iconic status, it remains a competitively priced option.

Does Mercedes SL Hold Their Value?

Investing in a luxury car like the Mercedes SL can be a big decision, but one comforting aspect to consider is its impressive value retention.

Yes, you may be putting down a considerable amount upfront due to its high list price, but take solace in the fact that this iconic vehicle has a commendable knack for maintaining its value over time.

Imagine this: you’re three years down the line, your Mercedes SL has clocked up 36,000 miles, and yet it still retains a substantial portion of its original value. Impressive, isn’t it?

If we delve into the specifics, the standard SL 400 model will hold onto 50 percent of its original purchase price after this period. That’s half the value of your investment even after enjoying its luxury and performance for three years.

But what if you have a penchant for the top-tier models? Well, the value retention remains strong. A range-topping SL 65 can expect to retain 51 percent of its value after the same time and mileage.

This shows that the charm and allure of the Mercedes SL transcend the variants and extend to even the most elite models.

Let’s not forget about the SL 500 and SL 63 models either. After three years and 36,000 miles, they still retain 48 and 49 percent of their original value respectively.

This resilience in value retention showcases the overall strength of the Mercedes SL as an investment, regardless of the specific model you choose.

What does SL in Mercedes stand for?

In the world of Mercedes-Benz, the initials “SL” have a rather distinctive and noteworthy meaning. Breaking it down, SL stands for “Super Light,” a designation indicating a vehicle’s remarkably lightweight construction. It is a testament to Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to engineering cars that are not only powerful but also efficiently streamlined.

This term, however, isn’t merely a badge of honor. It’s rooted deep in the brand’s illustrious history, tracing back to the very first Mercedes race car designed with the specific aim of being ultra-lightweight.

This pioneering vehicle wasn’t just any race car – it was an icon that would set the stage for Mercedes-Benz’s future automotive endeavors.

With the introduction of the ‘Super Light’ designation, Mercedes-Benz was successful in creating one of the most broadly successful race cars of all time. This ingenuity redefined racing standards and solidified the brand’s place in automotive history.

To this day, every Mercedes-Benz car bearing the SL designation carries with it this legacy of innovative, lightweight design, and high performance.

Is Mercedes discontinuing the SL?

Farewell, conventional Mercedes-Benz SL. As of 2019, the original platform was officially discontinued, marking the end of an era. But, as they say, when one door closes, another opens.

For Mercedes-Benz, this meant an exciting new chapter in the form of the all-new Mercedes-AMG SL for 2022. What makes this newcomer special, you ask?

Well, it’s a creation of none other than the AMG performance division, the German firm’s dedicated high-performance arm. And boy, did they deliver!

This fresh take on the classic SL does away with the ordinary and steps into the extraordinary. It’s more than just a new model—it’s a bold evolution that embraces the high-performance ethos of AMG while staying true to the SL’s luxurious roots.

With this replacement, Mercedes-Benz has breathed new life into the SL lineage, ensuring its legacy continues to dazzle and captivate.


The pursuit of the ideal Mercedes-Benz SL for a used purchase is an exhilarating journey through automotive history and innovation.

Navigating through the evolution of the Mercedes SL—from its inception rooted in motorsport to its branching into distinct lineages—highlights the rich tapestry of achievements and challenges.

While some models showcased groundbreaking design and engineering prowess, others faced hurdles that shaped their legacies.

Now, with the introduction of the all-new AMG-developed SL promising a renaissance for this iconic nameplate, enthusiasts and buyers find themselves at the cusp of a new era in the SL’s storied history.

The quest for the Best Mercedes SL To Buy Used intertwines the past, present, and future, inviting aficionados to explore and uncover the pinnacle of desirability and value within the realm of these legendary roadsters.

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