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Hello, I’ve also caught the SL500 bug...

Discussion in 'General Mercedes-Benz Related Discussion' started by neeklaus, Nov 10, 2019 at 4:10 PM.

  1. neeklaus

    neeklaus New Member

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    Hi MBers,

    Greetings from a hopefully soon-to-be Mercedes owner!

    Earlier this year, after about 8 years of non car ownership, I started thinking about getting a convertible. My thoughts took me to the R230 SL and have not budged since...

    I've read many contributions to threads started by likeminded posters in this forum, as well as posts on maintenance of these cars. I am very grateful for this resource, which has been informative and eye-opening!

    A few months later, after researching, keeping an eye on ebay and AT and a bit of umming and ahhing, I finally went to see some SLs for sale in the flesh.

    I’ve always liked the look of these cars and the folding hard top makes it the perfect all-year car for me. If one drove past, it would catch my loving gaze. Now I've had the pleasure to try out a few, I‘m a goner. The R230 SL is definitely the one for me.

    I started with a 350 from 2005 which seemed ok but the service history turned out to be not quite as full as the dealer had led me to believe in the listing. Being the first car I saw, I also had nothing to compare it to.

    The same day my girlfriend and I went to see a 500. I have never owned a V8, but when we started the engine I knew that noise was something I needed in my life!

    Yesterday we went to check out a 500 which was looked great and was in one of my favourite trim/colour combos but unfortunately seemed like an ABC minefield.

    A bit disappointed, we checked out Autotrader to see what was on offer nearby. A couple more 500s that were a bit further than we were prepared to travel but... what’s this... an SL55? Only half an hour away...? Hmmm...!!

    At this stage, having tasted the goods of a 500 V8, I felt I wasn’t going to need any more grunt. Being only *just* within the realms of what I can afford, I felt an AMG might give me more grief than was worth it. Like quite a few others on this forum, I went to see what the fuss was about.

    Oh dear... now I know! How that car has complicated my buying choices. Wow! The sound that thing makes. The acceleration. Not to mention all the toys you get with it... that is a LOT of car.

    The drive home was filled with very excited talk about our SL55 experience - the dealer generously let me take my girlfriend out for a test drive (at dark, in the rain!). And when I pressed the accelerator pedal of our hired Golf, in my mind I would hear the roar of that AMG V8.

    With my sensible cap on I suppose I am still open to the idea of an SL500 since it seems possible to get a good one at two thirds or even half the price of a 55. Cost of maintenance and fuel on the 55 does seem a bit higher, which is a factor, as well as the up front cost of the car itself. I would not have much spare change for any work that would need to be done immediately.

    However... it has an emotional pull on me that is much stronger than the 500. And when it comes to making decisions like these I am often one to follow my heart over my mind!

    Of course, one could spend forever researching these cars online but eventually that knowledge needs to be tested out in the real world. While I have my checklist and a good basis for understanding, these cars are still new to me and there are some specifics that aren't always clear when examined in the flesh for the first time. So I have come to report my findings and ask for your opinions and advice.


    #1 SL500

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201910313893378

    Viewed at short notice, seller is a dealer but was using the car himself. Everything worked and the ABC went up and down quickly and evenly. When I checked the boot there was dampness on the carpet above the pump. There were droplets on the metal cylinder of the pump, but it was dry elsewhere. The seller said these droplets were condensation. But since I've seen others without this condensation I am wary whether this was actually the case...

    The ABC fluid was definitely brown, but there were no warnings in the dash about anything ABC related. Drove the car roof down and up and seemed to drive quite well over speed bumps. But I just didn’t feel confident about a car with no history and 5+ owners – that it was priced very low (£5,000) didn’t help either. Though I admit the price still made it tempting.


    #2 SL500

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201907129996902

    Best looking car I’d seen with very nice AMG wheels and ash/metal trim combo but sadly the looks were deceiving. Again, viewed at a dealership without calling ahead and the battery was flat. First warnings on the dash were ABC ‘drive carefully’ and ESP, but I have come to understand the ESP warning will always come on after starting from a flat battery.

    ABC seemed to work well on the first go. But after turning off the car and checking out the exterior, the ABC 'visit workshop' warning glared red on the dash when I restarted the car. The ABC system wouldn’t respond when I tried to raise or lower it. So at this point I felt I had to walk away. Had a quick check of the engine bay where I detected a little bit of smoke emanating from between the engine and the ABC pump and a smell of burning oil. The ABC fluid seemed a touch greener than the previous 500 I saw, which prompts me to ask how green the ABC fluid actually is - if brand new should it be a bright neon green like some engine oils?

    I’ll post a pic of the fluid from this car so you can see the colour for yourselves. I felt it was predominantly brown but could detect a hint of greenness to it. Unfortunately not enough service history to really call it ‘full’ as was described in the listing, so I said my thank yous and scurried away!

    SL500 ABC Fluid.jpeg

    #3 SL55

    https://www.autotrader.co.uk/classified/advert/201910253706415

    Have to say I wasn’t feeling the red trim in the pictures but having sat in it, it was very cool! Private seller, viewed with about 2 hours notice, but turned out to also be on sale at a dealership elsewhere. The owner was not present but the car was being sold by a friend who owns a car wash, which is where we viewed the car. He had a CLS63 there and an M6. The enthusiasm for big engine cars did give me a bit of confidence along with the service history which was the most comprehensive I’ve seen yet. Lots of history from MB main dealer with previous owner, but after that there were no invoices more recent than 2016. The history seemed to drop from regular MB services and fixes to next to nothing while under the present owner, though he has owned it for 5 years. The SBC was replaced (IIRC, but could’ve been rebuilt – should've taken note) in 2012 and there was something done to the ABC pump, but I can’t quite remember what it was either. I should take pics/notes of the service history next time, but what I recall is that it was something valve or pump related costing about £600. The owner was aware of all the problems of these R230s and assured me it was free of any issues. The boot seals looked like they had been done. But as it had been raining quite hard, once we got it under cover and opened the boot it was difficult to tell whether it was truly leak-free because some of the water from the boot lid ran off into the boot itself. This does seem like something that will happen no matter how well the boot seals have ben fixed. Still, the sponge was dry and the pump itself was too. We had a go putting the roof up and down a few times, though it did seem a tad slower than others we’d tried. The ABC went up on the first setting but on the second setting it seemed to me as though the front was lifting more than the rear. It didn’t look like anything was awry when seen from outside the car, and the seller of course assured me it was fine. But I couldn’t help but feel it was definitely lifting more at the front when I raised the suspension on the second setting... I don’t think we were on an incline but if we were parked on a slight angle would this affect the suspension levelling somewhat? Perhaps it was just me... but has anyone else experienced this?

    As with the other cars the battery was flat when we arrived and it needed a jump start. At which point the ESP and ABC 'drive carefully' warnings came on. But after driving around for a few minutes they went away. Unfortunately the roof-lifting button in the boot wouldn’t work when the roof was folded down. But otherwise the car seemed in pretty good nick. And did I mention how the sound of that V8 tore right into the depths my soul?! Oh I should also mention the ABC fluid was probably the greenest of all SLs i’ve seen so far. It was a dark green but to my eyes certainly more green than brown. I’ve attached a pic of this too.

    SL55 ABC Fluid.jpeg

    I suppose my main reservations would be the seller going for quite a hard sell. And at £11,750 is it wishful thinking that there won’t be a huge bill heading its way imminently?

    One minor general question – I noticed only the rear right foglight illuminated on the cars I tested. I'm guessing that's just peculiar to the SL – they only have one rear fog? Either that or it's a strange coincidence...

    Whether I end up going for a 500 or a 55, I think I’d get it checked out by a local indie. Definitely seems worth the relatively small outlay. I’d be really grateful to hear what you think about my experiences so far and I’ll be share more of my journey as the search deepens. Conor’s recent thread about his search for a SL500 was a great read but it was interesting to see he’s now looking around for a v12! Which makes me think about whether I’d be truly satisfied with a 500 after all... I feel like the 55 is that forbidden fruit...

    Warm regards,

    Nic
     
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  2. Blobcat

    Blobcat Moderator

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  3. 100%Bitch

    100%Bitch Senior Member

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    If you were to buy the 55 you would need to get a tailor to add some extra length to your pockets. They would need to be very, very deep. That comes from experience.
     
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  4. AJD

    AJD Senior Member

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    Hi Nic, welcome to the forum. That was some intro :)
     
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  5. Wighty

    Wighty Senior Member

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    Welcome to the forum , wow what a right up ! If I remember from my last year pre mot check , I think one fog light is normal. looking forward to your continued search .
    Have you considered an SL500 , and then getting the exhaust “tweaked “ rather than the SL55 ?
     
  6. flowrider99

    flowrider99 Senior Member

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    I know what you mean about the 55, I was in the same position but couldn't justify paying double the price of my 500. The 55 is a great car though.
     
  7. Wighty

    Wighty Senior Member

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    Have you already got a decent MB Indy lined up for the cars needs ?
     
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  8. OP
    neeklaus

    neeklaus New Member

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    SL500 but a 55 sure looks peachy!
    Hi all, thanks for the warm welcome!

    That was a very gentle nudge. A few more of those and I might be pushed over the edge...

    Thanks Helen – rather sobering words! So... 500 or find a good tailor.
    Thanks Wighty. I hadn't considered that. But I feel like the noise is all part of the whole AMG package. Now the experience of driving a 55 is etched into my memory, the same noise from the exhaust of a 500 just wouldn't feel right to me, you know?

    I'd never been at the wheel of a car with that much grunt before and was trying to figure out why it was so awesome. It's just the sound of pure power, available at the pleasure of your right foot.
     
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  9. OP
    neeklaus

    neeklaus New Member

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    SL500 but a 55 sure looks peachy!
    No – haven't quite got that far yet. I feel I still need to get out there and see a few more cars before narrowing down the field.
     
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  10. Wighty

    Wighty Senior Member

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    I’ve not driven either SL500 or 55 , but I did have an hour at MB Brooklands in an SL63 . I think apart from exhaust noise the 500 is going to have more power than you can use even in the dry .
    I envy your decision though , what a problem 500 or 55 !! Maybe double the costs for everything on the 55 though .
     
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  11. alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    We do offer pre purchase inspection services, so do give us a shout if required!
     
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  12. Blobcat

    Blobcat Moderator

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    Problem with the 500 is the lack of supercharger whine that you get on the 55 at full chat.

    One is a lot time dead and I don’t believe there are any pockets in a shroud...
     
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  13. Conor

    Conor Senior Member

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    Welcome Nic,

    That's my boy ;)

    I'm glad you enjoyed the recent thread.. it was a fun experience!

    Regarding the V12.. the desire to purchase one of them has really stemmed from the following points and nothing is really due to a comparison of my 500 experience
    • Rarity and possible increase in value in future
    • 500 odd BHP, which can be taken too nearly 600 quite easily - supercar performance!
    • A simple fact of bigger being better blah blah - boys will be boys.
    I have kind of gone off the boil now because I genuinely love the 500 a lot and I would only get a 600 if I had somewhere to store it in doors. Also, while cruising around London in the 500, the fuel needle is in a different place every time I look - which would probably be amplified with the 600. There is also complexity of twin turbos and the possibility of the gearbox causing issue with the amount of torque put out by the engine.

    That is a nice segway to my opinion on the SL55 vs 500. There is a supercharger in the 55, which is another part to go wrong. '55s also have more amped up breaks and a bunch of other AMG related parts under the hood, which will be more expensive than their 500 counterparts. Like others have said the SL55 will just cost more to repair shall things go wrong. Depending on the car and your mileage you may never have to replace break in your time, or have anything go wrong, so.. your mileage may vary (pardon the pun ;))

    I personally love the 500 and it's a nice place to be, without being too greedy! You have a naturally aspirated engine and no beefed up components that may be expensive. Obviously you don't get the AMG experience.. which for some, including me is a major con.. but countered by the former points. For the record i've never actually driving the 55, or even been in an AMG car.....! Some might say thats a good thing. My bank manager for one ;)

    But honestly, like all things in the motor world it comes down to budget, which you haven't mentioned really. The R230 is reputed to be one of the most complicated cars around, and I personally feel that has probably suppress the 500 prices, when you compare the price of SLK55 to the 350 and then the SL500 to the 350.

    A big factor you haven't mentioned is whether you are a DIYer or will be outsourcing the work. I am a DIYer so was happy enough to take a punt on my R230, the price was good and the colour combo rare. But if I was outsourcing, I probably wouldn't have even started that famous thread. You've probably read this but you will probably need to have a few grand at the ready while you own this car for things that might go wrong. That is mainly regarding the ABC and SBC brakes. For me I am happy to devote a lot of time to research and then DIY fixing, and happy to park the car up for weeks on end until fixed. I think you should really buy the car..for fun and smiles all around, I think much else will really come close for the money. You just really need to have a reality check regarding costs post purchase.

    The cars you posted look nice alright.. but remember dealers will always make that so. It's very easy for them to bring the paint/wheels/interior up to a showroom standard. It's underneath that matters...

    People will say that you can get an SL for £5000 now, which is great.. but people will also say that buying a cheap SL (£5k) is a recipe for disaster..I say it's more like roulette. With the cars you listed they are all dealer, meaning there is a margin of at least £1k in there so a person let the car go cheap.. you need to ask why.

    The SL55 looks too good to be true imho, based on the price. It could be priced due to mileage.. but if it's recently had a new supercharger fitted, I would expect it to be higher.

    I personally like #2..
    • It is effectively a 2004 car (minor point)
    • Low miles
    • Seems to be daily driven (given mileage) in the last year. Means it's been exercised plenty.
    • MOT is just out.. I would expect a fresh MOT if purchased, which should show up any issues after the miles put on in the last year.
    • Wheels are nice, like you say.
    Oh and.. are you aware of the rust issue in the rear arches? When inspecting look out for rust and/or bad repairs. A repair on both arches will start off about £400 and upwards. I was quoted £250 per wheel at one place and £1200 in another, the latter being very professional and would have done a proper job that I wouldn't second guess. If the arches are pristine, they could have been repaired.. but remember there are two levels of repair, cosmetic and structure. The cosmetic repair looks great for a time but untreated rust will come back. Structural repairs will treat the root of the problem and should make the arches good for many years.

    That's all I can add now.. remember this is all just my opinion.. i'm not an expert by any definition so keep that in mind.

    In any case.. just do it! :)

    EDIT: I see you are based in London, that's good so you won't do many miles. I've used my wagon for everything I needed, since January 28th. I'll hit 3k miles since purchase, with a road trip coming up. Also, labour for an indy around here will set you back about £100 per hour (ex. VAT). Keep that in mind.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2019 at 6:44 PM
  14. OP
    neeklaus

    neeklaus New Member

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    Your Mercedes:
    SL500 but a 55 sure looks peachy!
    The 63 must be monstrous! Lighter, more power... but it's a good point about usable power. It's not like I'd ever want to take this car to a track or anything. I live in London and use my bike or feet to get around most of the time. The intended use is primarily long-distance cruising and occasionally cruising at speed :)

    The argument – or was it a rationalisation – my girlfriend and I put towards the 55 is appreciation. Although it's a risky bet with the electric revolution coming. On the other hand, if it's the last petrol–powered car I buy, there is a strong case for going big! In my mind's eye I see myself owning an SL for quite a few years, providing the costs don't ruin the pleasure of ownership.
     
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  15. ajlsl600

    ajlsl600 Senior Member

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    great car, even better if well sorted when you buy it. keep a good stash of cash under the bed . you may need it. you can exercise caution and if yr lucky find a well sorted car.
     
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  16. Blobcat

    Blobcat Moderator

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    SL65 is also availabubble...
     
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  17. alexanderfoti

    alexanderfoti MBO Forum Supporter Authorised Forum Supporter

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    In terms of complexity and repair costs:
    500 then then 55 then 600.

    The 600 is super wafty and quiet and smooth, the 55 more raw and agressive, it depends which you want.

    The 600 requires engine out for most engine related jobs (mounts, oil leaks etc)
     
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  18. Wighty

    Wighty Senior Member

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    Whichever you choose , I would be willing at no charge to “take the car out” for the day and file a report of my findings :D .
    This isn’t something I would normally offer , but for the right car and because you are new to the forum I’ll make an exception :rolleyes:
     
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  19. Conor

    Conor Senior Member

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    Urk... why is that..? Because it's mahoosive?
     
  20. Kev555

    Kev555 Senior Member

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    Great answer Blobcat:D:D:D
     
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