Today’s Nice Price or No Dice 300 SL is a mystery machine, only not the kind that Scooby and the gang rolled around in solving crimes. Instead, it’s a car that needs its fuel tank flushed and maybe some other work to make it drivable. Will its price prove low enough to make it worth taking on the case?
When it comes to things like celebrity marriages, comedies about raising kids, or puppy cuteness overload, large numbers are always entertaining. The same can’t be said about the number of owners a car may have had in its past. The number you’re always going for is “one” and anything more than two or three leads to questions around why the car couldn’t stick the relational landing. You might ask yourself: what’s wrong with this vehicle that’s made it go through owners the way a salacious rumor goes through a junior high?
According to the CarFax provided by its seller, last Friday’s 2002 Maserati Spyder had 10 owners in its past. So onerous a number, along with the car’s less desirable Cambiocorsa transmission obviously drove down the seller’s $13,900 asking. Most of you wished they had driven it a little further. That price was met by a 55 percent No Dice loss, a narrow defeat to be sure, but a flogging nonetheless.
What it comes to roadsters — or two-door convertibles if you want to be pedantic — you can do far worse than the Mercedes R129 SL. I’ll wager that most of you will agree that this was the best-looking SL since the pagoda-roof W113 of the Sixties. It’s certainly better looking than any SL that has followed. The R129 was also the last of the SL line to offer both a soft top and a hardtop. All ensuing models come with a retractable metal roof that simplifies the number of roof options, but compromises boot space as a result.
This 1990 Mercedes 300 SL is notable on a number of fronts. First off, it carries the older naming convention where the alphanumerics were ordered with the number first and the letters second. Starting with the 1994 model year that would be flipped for all Mercedes’ models. The name on this car is 300 SL and that denotes the second interesting aspect of the car, which is the parts that make up that name. The “SL” portion of the name stands for “Superleicht” or Super Light, indicating its sporting intent. That’s pretty comical here since these models tip the scales at nearly two tons.
The 300 denotes the engine displacement, i.e. three-liters, with the extra 0 added for shits and giggles. Most R129s sold in the U.S. were five-liter V8 cars and that makes this one somewhat interesting. Now, it should be noted that the seller lists this car as a 320 SL, however, that’s a model that never existed. The 3.2-liter engine arrived at the same time as the naming convention flip-flop so it was the SL 320. This car’s boot lid has been denuded of model identification so it’s an easy mistake to make.
In any regard, a lighter — and admittedly less powerful (228 horsepower vs. 322) — straight-six gives the car a somewhat different personality. The lighter nose provides different driving dynamics and the car will be slightly less thirsty than the V8 car, should that be a concern.
What definitely should be a concern is that this SL is shown sitting on a trailer in a number of the ad’s pics. The seller says they bought the car a few months back as a non-runner. The prior owner had explained that the car had been sitting in storage “off and on” for over 15 years. The present owner poured some gas in the “carburetor” (hey, I’m just repeating what the ad says) and got it to sputter to life. To bring it fully back to the land of the living will require a full fuel system cleansing and probably similar efforts taken on the brakes and all other fluid-related sub-systems.
Despite the whole trailer-needing situation, the seller calls the car “near mint” in the ad’s headline. That seems to be a very broad interpretation of that phrase as the car shows a number of aesthetic flaws in the ad’s pics along with a general need for a thorough deep cleaning of its interior. It does come with both tops, but the current seller apparently hasn’t bothered to check and see if the fabric roof is intact, or even if it raises and lowers at all. A prior owner seemingly vouched for its condition and performance, but I’d still want to be shown. And I’m not even from Missouri
On the plus side, the car wears a set of handsome Lorinser D93 alloys. Those can go for upwards of two-grand alone. While offered in Phoenix, the SL is a California car and even wears current registration tags. There are 146,000 miles on the odometer and the title is as clean as you might wish the car to be.
The asking price is $5,000 and should you be one of those weirdos like me that follows R129 prices on the Web, then you’ll likely recognize that to be on the low-end of the market for something that’s not actively on fire or a home for field mice. The question is whether that’s low enough, considering all the unknowns present in this car? What do you think, is $5,000 cheap enough to take a chance on a car as cool as this? Or, is that a roll of the dice that demands a far lower ante?
H/T to Don R. for the hookup!
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