The Boxy R129 Mercedes SL Is A 90s Classic

Roadster

Mercedes lifted the veil off its iconic roadster 30 years ago.

The folks at Mercedes have been feeling nostalgic lately, pulling some of its best-remembered models out of its archives and dusting them off for our recollection. Just the other day, it took us on a spirited drive down memory lane in one of its finest performance sedans, and before that it reminded us of a long-lost nameplate. Now it's putting one of its most iconic roadsters back in the fore.

The R129 was one of just seven long-running iterations of the SL that the Silver Star automaker has made over the course of the past 65 years.

Coming of age as we did in the Nineties, though, it's the one that we, at least, remember best. It debuted 30 years ago at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show, eschewing the more classic styling of its three predecessors and adopting an altogether more modern, straight-lined form.

Underneath its boxy bodywork, the R129-generation SL was something of a technological showpiece of its time. It featured an automatically deploying roll hoop, three-point belts integrated into the seats, adaptive dampers, and a slippery form with a drag coefficient of just 0.32 (with the standard hardtop installed).

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It also offered a wide array of engine options, including six-, eight-, and even twelve-cylinder motors ranging in output from 190 horsepower in the base 300 SL all the way up to 525 hp in the top-of-the-line SL73 AMG.

Daimler kept the R129 in production for twelve years, over the course of which it made over 200,000 of them – of which more than a third were dispatched to North America. Now 30 years since its debut, 18 since its replacement, and a couple of generations later, it's becoming something of a young classic for those who, like ourselves, remember it as the definitive roadster of its time.

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