Newbie 1991 SL500 owner saying hi, plus a few questions.

JWB

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Hi all,

Just wanted to say hi and introduce myself. I've been reading various threads recently but as I've now taken the plunge, I thought I should register.

On Saturday I'm picking up my first MB, a Jap import, 43,000 mile 1991 SL500( I'll post some pics once it's cleaned to my fanatical standards )

I won't bore you with my car history, but I've just moved on from a mint condition, 18,041 mile 1992 Jap import third Gen twin turbo RX7, which I recently sold through Piston Hads.

I now have a 7 month old baby and decided that I wanted a 2+2 for my "tucked away in the garage treat" , so on the rare occaision we could all go out together. After much deliberation I decided that an early 500SL was the one. My Dad owned a 1977 E class when we lived in Singapore during the early nineties, and as an 18 yro it was quite a unique drive at the time. It was as we referred to it " a tank" but it went on and on and never let us down! We did try to export it back to the UK when we left but it cost so much more than the car was worth we decided against it.

After todays test drive in the SL, something clicked and I decided to go for it. Having had a 1.3 twin turbo rotary engine, I just wanted to move onto a big normally aspirated lump. After looking at American muscle cars, etc etc I finally decided that the SL500 provided me with everything I wanted. It might not be an out and out 0-60 machine, but in gear acceleration was really impressive. At 40 MPH, Phil knocked the car into third and it really flew, something I can only liken to my friends supercharged Jag.

I know many will think I'm mad buying a Jap import with no documented service history, but from experience I have found Jap imports provide great value and more often than not they are in fantastic condition, particularly the older models. I recently went to see a UK SL500 for a similar amount of money with 140K on the clock, 11 owners, full history but it cleary looked it's age. I know you need to know what you are looking at, coupled with a bit of luck, but sometimes you have to go with your gut instinct, which is what I did on this occaision.

I did a couple of searches on here about Jap imports but there doesn't seem to be many posts on the subject. I recently contacted the comapny I imported my RX7 through ( Newera Imports ) asking about sourcing me a 500SL and they confirmed that they are currently looking to source older SL's as they are representing excellent value and are often in really good condition for their age.

I do have a couple of questions if anyone can help me I'd really appreciate it ( again I did try and search )

The car is registed as a 1991, but has a digital odometer which I understand is from 93 models onwards. I take it it could just be a replacement cluster / dash unit? It has a Japanese MB offiical sticker on the P/S inner door seal, not that means anything I guess.

As Jap fuel is a higher RON, would I be right in thinking that Shell V power or similar would be a better bet than normal UK unleaded? I always ran my RX on V Power.

Don't get me wrong, I'm no boy racer, but the car is a little quiet for me and would really like to hear some "growl" when it's being pushed. I'm led to beleive that the 1991 is a "pre cat" model. If I were to have a customer S/S exhaust made ( Power-flow for example ) will it cause a problem? I.E. will the fuelling system / ECU adjust itself to accomodate the new system or will adjustments need to be made? I have seen SL500 specific systems by Eisenmann but they are quite costly. Don't get me wrong I know you get what you pay for but I was wondering what the thoughts were from you experinced MB owners?


The synthetic vs mineral debate. Again I read a few threads on this , but what is the MB official stand point? Anyone that can advise me on the correct oil to use for the age of car would be really helpful. There is so much info out there that in the end it all gets slightly confusing.

On a positive note, it was so refreshing today to pop the bonnet and see parts you can actually access. The joy being to change rotor arms, air filters, plugs etc. It makes such a change from popping the bonnet of the RX and thinking "right, where are the plugs?" and my company Audi for that matter!

Anyway, I think I have bored you enough for my first post. Any commnets/ help would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks.

Jonathan.
 

brianbrian

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Thank you not bored enjoyed reading it (Television)on the forum has alot of know how on your sl500 you have made a good choice, well I read that a lot of people have bought cars from Japan they all seem to be very low mileage as they have not got the roads like us also speed limit is low, I have a 1992 300sl 24 valve which I have just completed putting a diesel engine in now get over 40mpg it has digital odometer so I had to mate the diesel engine up to the sl gearbox , 100% happy with the conversion not every bodies cup of tea took me 6 months.
 

television

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Hello Jonathan, and welcome to the forum. As I understand it the Japan cars had a higher spec than the USA and UK versions, this certainly was the case in later years.

Do you need to change the mileometer, if it is an early cluster the the parts can be unplugged from within the cluster.

The car should be fine on 95 ron fuel and I am not aware of any changes to japan spec cars on this point.

With oils use the best spec that you can, in this case MB229.5 is the best and latest, though even 229.3 will still exceed the original by a long way.
 

Richard Moakes

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1991 R129.066 M119.960; 2005 W164.175 M113
Hello Jonathan,

Welcome to the forum.

I made exactly the same journey as you about two years ago, I sold my 3rd Gen RX-7 and moved on to a 1991 500SL. I hope you will enjoy the car as much as I have, and I can safely say I have never regretted the change.

I will be happy to help you with your 'conversion' to MB but possibly you might benefit from reading the following posts.

http://forums.mercedesclub.org.uk/showthread.php?t=32354

http://forums.mercedesclub.org.uk/showthread.php?t=49902

Busy today, enjoying the sunshine, I will be back later :)
 

television

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I did enjoy reading the first link from start to finish, it shows what can be done, and one of the best post ever on the forum
 
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JWB

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Thanks for your comments guys!

Richard, isn't that spooky, perhaps great petrol heads think alike? Anyway, perhaps we can have a chat at some point, rather than bore everyone with the RX vs SL debate, I would be interested to hear your views. I had actually read your posts already, one of the few that comes up when you search for 1991 500SL.

Television, I agree, from my experience JDM cars tend to be higher spec'd than those that come to the UK. On Japanese cars they tend to have more BHP against the equivalent UK cars, limited edition models etc.

Well, I'm like the "kid in the candy store", can't wait until tomorrow. It's going to rain, I'm not happy about it, but I can say with some certainty that tomorrow will be the last wet day the car is going to see, so I hope it enjoys it. At least I'll find out if the hard top fits properly. It hasn't been on the car for 2 and a half years, which based on the cobwebs on the cover I can beleive it.

I'll post again when it's home safe and sound and if the weather holds out for a few hours I'll get it washed and cleaned up and will post a few pictures.

Thanks again for the welcome.

Jonathan.
 

television

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Good luck Jonathan and I wish you a good drive home
 
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JWB

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Well the car is back safe and sound!

2 Hour journey back from York to Loughborough and 1/4 tank used, which I was pleasently surprised at considering I did have a few moments where I decided to open it up on the M18.

Faultless drive, nothing to report.

Pee'd it down most of the way home, but no leaks from the hartop. Car cleaned but the Meguiers clay bar and polishing will come tomorrow ( probably in the garage judging by the forecast ) and I'll post some pics when done.

Really chuffed with the car, I'd forgotten how good the quality is, the carpets are like new under the mats and about 3 times thicker than any car I've owned before. Mind you, for 77K in 1991 you'd expect it.

Jonathan.
 

Richard Moakes

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Congratulations on picking up the car, I hope and believe it will give you many years of pleasurable motoring.
 

television

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It did cost around £75k back then, and that was a lot of money, so pleased its fine and you are back home with it
 

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