Rare 1991 Mercedes-Benz 300SL 5-Speed

After the R107 SL had been in production for 18 years, Mercedes finally rolled out its replacement, the R129, in 1990. Since the R107 had been slapped with ugly U.S. government mandated headlights and bumpers, it was never the car is should have been. But the R129 had universal styling and a whole new level of appeal.

Bruno Sacco's design was a masterpiece of classic lines but progressive shape. The hood is long and low, and the rear is handsomely squared off, accented with the trademark ribbed taillights. The early models are some of the best looking, with the three-opening air intake slots on the sides, full-faced alloys, and more detailed front air dam.

The underpinnings were based on the excellent W124 sedan chassis. Mercedes initially offered just a six or eight cylinders, then later 12.

This example is a the 24-valve M104 straight-six cylinder engine that produced a healthy 228 horsepower. Many were the more complex V8, so the six-cylinder engines are a neat find for someone looking for something relatively tame but still plenty sufficient to start out with.

What makes this version especially appealing is the very rare 5-speed manual transmission. Mercedes stick shifts are very hard to find, especially in their cars from the 80s and 90s, which were considered by the general populace as "luxury" rather than "sporty" cars, a sentiment echoed and reinforced by Mercedes themselves.

It's difficult to find an exact number of how many 5-speed 300SL were sold here, but the seller says it was only 100 - whether for that year, or total, is unknown. Another source says about 800 total. Either way, it's not much.

The seller of this example says its a two-owner car with a clean accident-free carfax and meticulous ownership. They say the oil was just changed and it drives like a "dream". They list the odometer as having around 95k-miles.

Find it here on ebay in Pompano Beach, Florida with 5 bids at $3,050 and reserve not met.


  1. In the US at least, the R129 is generally what a gentleman of a certain age buys to let people know they've made it. The V8-auto drivetrain fits that image perfectly, of course.

    What type of buyer was Mercedes targeting with the I6-manual version? This is a luxury GT-type convertible, not really set up for handling or speed or, well, anything approaching sports car performance. I get why this configuration wasn't a big seller - in this case, "rare" probably doesn't necessarily equal "desirable."

    The description is entertaining (in in what universe is 95K miles "low" for an SL - there are real low mileage R129's everywhere). Kind of the seller's version of of reality (what collector would think a 95K mile I6 R129 is a "dream car"). Seller's feedback score isn't great either.

    Regardless, bidding is up to $5800 - probably not anywhere near enough to meet the seller's imagined valuation. I'd consider it interesting at anything up to $8-9K. After that, you're approaching fairly nice (and lower mileage, and more desirable) V8 SL's.

  2. You've had a lot of bad advice about fuel economy. This car won't give you 30 mpg, nor will it give you 15. It will give you 24-28, city or highway, rain or shine, day in, day out. 

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