Considering a 90's sl600, sl500, or sl320.....

Asked by Jan 29, 2010 at 09:09 AM about the 1996 Mercedes-Benz SL-Class

Question type: Shopping & Pricing

Just wondering if there are certain year model's to avoid, and others that are good in terms of reliability.
I can get an sl600 so cheap, about $10k with 100k miles, I don't mind another $8k or so to keep it running a long while.  Still $12k cheaper than a new Accord.  ;)

Any comments?  Are the sl500's generally better on reliability?  I know the mileage is pretty decent on those and on the sl320's considering what they are.....


8 Answers


I just purchased a 1999 SL600, 32,000 miles, for $24k. If you can afford it, find a lower mileage car. You'll end up driving it more and spending less, much less, on maintenance and repairs. Properly maintaining the V12 isn't cheap but if u start off with a low mileage car your out of pocket will be less, and your enjoyment will be greater.

3 of 3 people found this helpful.

I have a 94 sl320 and it's got all the SL's sass and class -- and some very friendly mpg's, pretty important these days especially when all SLs run 91 octane. I also think the 320 has the most personality of it predecessors, definitely imho more than the 500 and 600 which are steroids of their gene pool. The 600's engine is two of my 320s and can be very finicky and pricey but damn it's fast and road inclines are irrelevant. In 1995 the transmission went from hydraulic to electronic. The 320 has a five-speed versus the 500's 6-speed until later in the 90s, so be on the lookout for your SL's transmission: hydraulic/electronic and 4/5 speeds, and the maintenance required and performance delivered.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

Seems you negotiated well for a pretty low-mileage SL600. One of my buds is considering a 1997 SL600 with 87000 miles at $14,995. Has all the service records from its delivery date and it's very clean. What problems have you encountered? Would you buy your 600 again?

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

I've had the car now for a year. Actually, I may have overpaid, but I was willing to pay because I had all the origianl records (even from the dealer) and trusted the owner. I have had no issues with the car. I've changed all the fluids, just to feel good. It just turn to 37,000 last weekend. Needs new tires (still on the originals, 12 years old!) but otherwise it's been everything I expected. The V12 is awesome....just to know it's there.

4 of 4 people found this helpful.

1996-1998 are the butter zone for the 500 best engine and transmissino combo the 1995 and older are ok but the 4 speed hydrolic tranny is whimpy )=, The 1999 to 2003 on the other hand have a wattered down diamond star 3 valve engine instead of the benz 4 valve of prior years.

5 of 5 people found this helpful.

I have found 600SL's with 40,000 miles for 16,000 all day! You are crazy to pay that much for a 500sl. Also for some reason people have reported better leather with the 600SL than the 500. Also a bigger bank account usually follows a 600SL because back in 1997 they were 140,000 so a bigger bank account to take better care and service like there is no problem.


I have a 1996 sl 320 3.2L engine for sale in Milwaukee,wi Original engine was removed n replaced with remanufactured engine for 10k Paperwork available if interested Email at


Letting it go for 5k. Buyer is responsible for removal.

1 of 1 people found this helpful.

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