The recent Artcurial classic car sale of an 1997 R129 Mercedes SL 500 in Monaco finished with a very high price and makes interesting reading for owners who might be due to update their agreed value insurance valuations.
Chassis no. WDB1290671F160464 was offered in Monaco with 69,300 kms on the clock. From the private collection of a Mercedes dealer, the car was Italian registered and had three owners from new. It was presented in beautiful condition with rare dark metallic blue paint over matching leather trim. As a facelift R129 Mercedes SL, it had the five-speed transmission and also benefitted from some repair work to the electrical system.
Coming with full history and the body-coloured detachable hard top roof, this beautiful Mercedes 500 SL was estimated at €25-35,000 and offered without reserve. It sold pretty much in the middle of that at just under €31,000.
R129 Mercedes SL 500 problems to watch for
The R129 Mercedes SL 500, while a classic and desirable model, is not without its technical problems and reliability issues. Early models (pre 1996) had issues with wiring insulation, which was biodegradable. If you don’t want wiring issues, shop for later models. Hydraulics for the roof can play up and the canvas roof loses its waterproofing over time. The plastic soft top window can also deteriorate and crack.
Additionally, some owners have reported issues with the transmission, particularly the five-speed transmission found in the facelift R129 models. It is important to note that higher prices for some R129 SL500 models in recent auctions may not necessarily reflect the overall reliability of the model. Potential buyers should consider these factors and conduct thorough inspections before making a purchase.
What this means for UK SL500 prices
Does this mean that all UK RHD 500SLs with under 70,000 kilometres on the clock are now worth €31,000 for insurance purposes? No. This car sold for what it sold for in front of a particular audience. It is a good example of what is possible for the model when presented to the right people at the right tme and place and a bit of bidding competiion takes place.
Prices for UK RHD cars have been steadily rising since 2014, but are now softening due to the rising cost of living. A very nice 1996 5-speed R129 Mercedes SL500 in Silver showing 77k miles was recently offered by Historics at Bicester Heritage with a guide of £13-18k but failed to sell. Lower prices may be coming but buying cars with technical issues to save some money is unlikely to be rewarding financially.