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    129 series SL-Class Roadsters.

Successful stylistic shape.

The world premiere of the new 129 series SL in March 1989 belonged to the main attractions of the Geneva Motor Show. The new types 300 SL, 300 SL-24 and 500 SL showed no common features with their preceding models except for their overall concept. Just like 18 years before, when the 350 SL demonstrated a great number of innovative construction details in automotive progress, the 129 series SL now also was a completely new car. The new SL generation convinced by a harmonic and very successful stylistic shape. It expressed dynamics, sportiness, but also comfort and elegance. On the one hand, the design presented itself traditional, on the other hand, its new solutions of many details looked far into the future.

Legendary trade mark.

Thus, for instance, the radiator grill, the legendary trade mark of the SL models, had been newly interpreted on the basis of remaining traditional shapes. In contrast to the preceding types, where the broad chrome frame and the star were dominant, the radiator cowling was now organically integrated into the engine bonnet. The star, now the only chrome decoration of the car, had been completed by horizontal lamellas of anodized aluminium. Considerable improvements as to passive safety could be achieved in comparison to the preceding models. With high efforts in development the exemplary safety standard of the saloons and coupés could also be reached in the SL.

A further point of development.

A further point of development was the realisation and development of the forward structure, already well-proven in the saloon range. It was based on the fact that front-end impacts are often offset. By reinforcing the front end cross-ties, the side farther away from the front crash is now able to absorb part of the impact energy. An integral part of the safety concept was the automatic rollover bar. It had been realised in car manufacturing for the first time. Its task was to secure the survival space of the passengers in case of a rollover. In order not to spoil the joy of driving in an open car by a fixed and inflexible rollover bar, a flexible solution was realised. Now the rollover bar is only activated in case of need.

During the rest state the safety bar, consisting of a U-shaped high-strength steel pipe clad with PU-foam, was positioned in front of the folding-top compartment. It formed the end of the tail and was in one line with the folding-top compartment lid. In case of an imminent rollover the rollover bar was released by an electromagnatic sensor system. It folded up within 0.3 seconds by the force of prestressed springs and was secured by ratchets. The high-strength centre pillars served as basis for fixing and support. They were extensively linked with the rear frame side rails. In addition to the automatic “crash-triggering” in case of need, there was also a manual operation. If desired by the driver, it could be activated by a switch. For this “comfort operation” the folding up and the retracting was regulated by a hydraulic element.

High stability.

But the survival space in case of a rollover was not only secured by the rollover bar. It was also supported by a special construction of the A-pillars. They consisted of high-strength metal sheets and were reinforced with high-strength tubes at the area of the upper door edges. Together with a two-tray front roof frame and a windscreen bonded with the body a very high stability was reached even if force was applied on one side only. Due to the rollover bar, the coupé hardtop had no more decisive function for the stability of the passenger compartment any more. Therefore, it now consisted of all-aluminium and weighed 10 kg less than the hard top of the preceding model, even though it had a larger window area. This was of great advantage for mounting and removing the top.

Consistent light-weight construction.

Altogether the reduction of weight was an important factor. By consistent light-weight construction and the extensive use of high-strength sheets a body shell structure weight of 405 kg could be reached. In spite of a significantly improved structure safety this was only 20 kg more than that of the preceding model.

A further important feature of SL-specific occupant protection were the newly developed integral seats, which were designed to provide extra protection in the case of side impact. The seat frame, made of five extremely stiff magnesium castings, made it possible to integrate into the seat the seat belt system including tensioner and belt height adjustment with automatic head restraint adjustment, as well as the all-electric seat adjustment functions. Not only safety was important, but also comfort, the foundations for which had been laid in the design of the bodywork. Additional diagonal members had been included to reduce the vibration and torsional movement typical of an open sports car.

The front axle sub-frame was connected to the door sills and at the rear the spare wheel well was also connected to the door sills. This meant that torsional stiffness was 30 % better than with its predecessor and total stiffness was similar to that of a saloon car.

Comfort while driving open.

The new design of electro-hydraulic roof, standard equipment on the SL, was particularly convenient. By operating a single push-button the roof could be opened and stowed within 30 seconds. Closing the roof was just as fast. While opening or closing the roof the side windows and roll-over bar were automatically lowered and then raised again. The process was micro-processor controlled, involved the use of 17 end-position switches, 15 pressure cylinders and 11 magnetic valves.

A further innovation, used for the first time on the 129 series SL, was the so-called "windbreak" consisting of a fine mesh material with a metal frame which could be fitted to the roll-over bar. When raised, the windbreak considerably increased comfort while driving open by reducing wind and wind noise to a minimum.

Outstanding ride and roadholding.

All new SL versions were fitted with electric windows and central locking as standard equipment. The 500 SL also had electric steering column adjustment for height and distance of the steering wheel.

Its suspension was fundamentally the same as that of the 201 and 124 series. Thus the new SL models also had spring-damper struts at the front and multi-link suspension at the rear, guaranteeing outstanding ride and roadholding. Many components had to be adapted for the SL and axle geometry was also specially tuned.

Standard equipment.

All 129 series models had 16-inch light-alloy wheels fitted with 225/55 ZR 16 tires as standard equipment. These larger wheels meant that larger brakes could also be used than on the predecessor.

Combination of old and new.

All three models had anti-locking brake systems (ABS). The range of engines was also a combination of old and new. All three engines were fitted with three-way catalytic converters. The 3-liter six-cylinder engine of the 300 SL had not only been used in the previous SL but also in the 124 and 126 series. The most important improvements for this application were a redesigned combustion chamber, giving reduced emissions of unburnt hydro-carbons, and a modified and improved catalyst and exhaust system, which boosted nominal output of the M 103 engine from 180 to 190 PS.

The four-valve version of the 3-liter engine as used in the 300 SL-24 was a new development based on the M 103. The 4-valve cylinder head and the camshaft adjustment were new. Combined with higher compression and electronic ignition with anti-knock control the 4-valve engine (M 104) had a power output 40 PS higher than that of the M 103. This meant that the 300 SL-24 had a significantly better performance than the 300 SL with almost identical fuel consumption, however, the price of the car was almost DM 10,000 higher. The main attraction at the Geneva Motor Show was the 500 SL, not only the most powerful SL with its 326 PS 5-liter 4-valve V8-engine, but also the most powerful standard Mercedes-Benz car.

Kraftstoffverbrauch kombiniert CO₂-Emissionen kombiniert Stromverbrauch im kombinierten Testzyklus

Product may vary after press date on 01.02.2018.

1 Die angegebenen Werte wurden nach dem vorgeschriebenen Messverfahren ermittelt. Es handelt sich um die „NEFZ-CO₂-Werte“ i. S. v. Art. 2 Nr. 1 Durchführungsverordnung (EU) 2017/1153. Die Kraftstoffverbrauchswerte wurden auf Basis dieser Werte errechnet. Der Stromverbrauch wurde auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

4 Angaben zu Kraftstoffverbrauch, Stromverbrauch und CO₂-Emissionen sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe des WLTP-Prüfverfahrens ermittelt und in NEFZ-Werte korreliert. Eine EG-Typgenehmigung und Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.

6 Stromverbrauch und Reichweite wurden auf der Grundlage der VO 692/2008/EG ermittelt. Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind abhängig von der Fahrzeugkonfiguration. Weitere Informationen zum offiziellen Kraftstoffverbrauch und den offiziellen spezifischen CO₂-Emissionen neuer Personenkraftwagen können dem „Leitfaden über den Kraftstoffverbrauch, die CO₂-Emissionen und den Stromverbrauch aller neuen Personenkraftwagenmodelle“ entnommen werden, der an allen Verkaufsstellen und bei der Deutschen Automobil Treuhand GmbH unter www.dat.de unentgeltlich erhältlich ist.

7 Angaben zu Stromverbrauch und Reichweite sind vorläufig und wurden vom Technischen Dienst für das Zertifizierungsverfahren nach Maßgabe der UN/ECE-Regelung Nr. 101 ermittelt. Die EG-Typgenehmigung und eine Konformitätsbescheinigung mit amtlichen Werten liegen noch nicht vor. Abweichungen zwischen den Angaben und den amtlichen Werten sind möglich.