1992 Mercedes-Benz 600SL Convertible
Ever since the launch of the legendary 300 SL ‘Gullwing’ in 1954, the Sport Leicht series has served as Mercedes-Benz’s flagship sports car, from the fabulous ‘Pagodas’ of the 1960s to the long-running W107 range of the 1970s and 1980s. The fourth-generation SL, dubbed the R129 in Stuttgart’s coding system, was unveiled to a rapturous reception at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show, combining fresh, aerodynamic styling with high-tech luxury and safety features. Developed and tested with typical Germanic thoroughness, a major feature of the new SL was the innovative new automatic roll bar, activated in a split second in the event of a rollover and one of the first seen on any passenger car. The folding roof was powered by an electro-hydraulic system for the first time, activated at the touch of a button and taking just 30 seconds to raise or lower, while every SL was supplied with a removable aluminum hardtop, complete with heated rear glass. The R129’s suspension was all-new, combining a sophisticated five-arm multi-link set-up at the rear with an Adaptive Damping System, while ABS was now standard on both models. The interior was suitably well appointed, with standard luxury features like leather upholstery, airbags, electric seats, automatic climate control and a Bose sound system, along with electric windows and even a wind deflector. The R129 SL line-up initially consisted of two models, the six-cylinder 300SL and V8 500SL, but these were joined by the range-topping 600 powered by a new M120 V12 engine from July 1992. With a massive 389 bhp on tap from the all-alloy DOHC V12, the 600SL certainly packed a serious punch, recording a 0-60 mph time of just 5.9 seconds on the way to a top speed limited to 155 mph. The only transmission available was a driver-adaptive electronically controlled five-speed automatic that perfectly suited the effortless nature of the V12 engine. As a sophisticated sports roadster, the R129 SL represents excellent value and these early cars also have the advantage of the superb build quality Daimler Benz was renowned for, something lost on cars built later in the 1990s. The 600SL was always fiendishly expensive in Australia when new, with an eye watering list price of $351,705 in 1994 (the equivalent of two new houses in Sydney) ensuring the model's exclusivity here.