80s R107 vs. 90s R129

mercedes-benz
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#1

Hello Klipocracy,

A friend of mine is eyeballing 80s R107s and 90s R129s. He prefers the look of the R107s. Are there strong reasons to prefer the R129? What should he be looking for in terms of completed maintenance items with R107s?

thanks so much

Gabe


#2

Hey Gabe. Great question. Apart from the obvious styling differences, the R129 is a much more modern car, with the most recent version not even twenty years old yet. That means more modern driving dynamics, more power, better efficiency, better safety, etc. They are also about half the price of the equivalent R107.

The R107 is now really a classic/collector car. The design dates back to the 1960s, and all examples are at least thirty years old, with early examples approaching fifty years old. Even if they haven’t been driven all that much, they will have parts that are wearing out from age, which can mean more fiddling with things like vacuum lines, plastic and rubber bits, etc. to ensure that the car is running properly.

The general wisdom on R107s is to buy one from the last few years (1986-1989), by which time the factory had worked out all of the kinks, and also to buy the nicest example you can afford.

Having it inspected by a Benz specialist prior to purchase is also a must.

If there are any examples under consideration, feel free to post them here so that we can help to evaluate them.


#3

Here is an article from a mercedes chat club. ----

“I’m in my 3rd year on my 129 and 33 of 107 ownership. Both amazing cars in their own rights. Both bring the open roadster experience to the table. The 107 has a truly classic iconic bearing. The 129 is a more contemporary version of the 107. I really like having both and will always have the two I have and perhaps another of each. I’m looking forward to having the time to finish my 107 restoration. Be nice to be back in the saddle again. All that said, they both have similar problems that comes with age. Dried out rubber, gaskets and brittle plastic. When you get all that sorted out, you have pretty damn fine cars. I own SL’s for the open air experience and detest getting them wet. For me hard tops are a nucence. The only thing my 107 top did was help destroy a rust free car! The 107 must be kept in a dry and or climate controlled environment due to piss poor corrosion protection. It’s getting harder to find a 107 that isn’t rusty. All in about the same places. In contrast the 129’s were pretty well galvanized and electro coated. In the hundreds I’ve looked at, few have had rust issues. The 107’s are pretty straight forward electrically as opposed to the 129. The 129 has miles of wiring and a bay with a half a dozen sophisticated hi buck computers and dozens of sensors. Then toss in my favorite the electro hydraulic soft top! When working properly, the top is a thing of beauty a veritable ballet of engineering magic. When they don’t work, they are a pain in the ass.
I choose the V12 version against every recommendation and any good sense. The car has very few issues once the last bad wiring was replaced. I absolutely love the sound, feel and very presense of the M120 engine. The hydraulic suspension is a thing of beauty, but again a nightmare if it goes tits up.
Both of the cars are best owned by either men of substantial means or like many of us, reasonably good and determined researchers and mechanics. I couldn’t afford either and definitely not 3 or more SL’s if I had to have a dealer do everything.
Anything else you like to know, just ask”

Also, as previous posters have emphasized ---- it is imperative that you have a thorough pre-inspection by a very qualified mercedes expert.

As for me, I recently bought a 1994 sl500 ---- I had a pre-inspection that took about 3 hours ---- and numerous issues were found. I have since had all issues resolved. This car runs like a new car and turns heads wherever I go.

As noted above, repairs with original, authentic parts are expensive ---- definitely not for a person on a budget.

As a whole ---- I love my sl500. Again, just have it checked out before purchasing so you know what your getting into.


#4

I would add that going with an '86 to '89 R107 (i.e. a 560 SL) as Mark suggests also means you’ll enjoy considerably stronger performance thanks to the more powerful, 5.6-liter V8. At 227 stronger-than-its-rating suggests horses, it makes about 40-45 percent more power than its 3.8-and 4.5-liter precursors.