Mercedes-Benz R129


This book is part of a series dedicated to the legendary cars of the Mercedes-Benz brand.
It contains hundreds of original photographs and drawings of Mercedes-Benz R129 (SL-Class) series sports cars from the company’s advertising brochures published from the late 1980s to the late 1990s. The images are accompanied by dozens of technical and historical facts about the SL series cars.
The book will certainly be a great gift to all present, past and future owners of Mercedes-Benz SL, as well as anyone who is not indifferent to the classic models of the company.



Mercedes-Benz R129

The first four generations of the SL family sport roadsters, which made a
significant contribution to popularizing the Mercedes-Benz brand, were
produced from 1954 to 1989 (read about these cars in the corresponding
volume of our book series).

The history of the 5th generation, designated R129,
began in 1983 under the leadership of the concern’s chief stylist, the outstanding
Bruno Sacco. The talented designer Johann Tomford, who joined the Mercedes-
Benz creative team 13 years earlier and had already worked on other models for the
company, took a direct part in the project.

By mid-1984, out of two dozen sketches
and promising design options, the Tomford version was chosen as the basis for
the final version of the new roadster. “We dreamed of creating a sports car that we
would like to drive ourselves,” Johann recalled. “Aesthetic appeal is very important,
and we kept in mind at all times that it had to be relevant for at least 10 or 12 years.”
Today, it is safe to say that the creators of the new roadster succeeded to the fullest
extent. Looking at this elegant car, it is hard to believe that its production began
more than a third of a century ago.

Its balanced forms and timeless design still
attract the attention of connoisseurs of beauty.
However, work on the model’s exterior was only part of the labor-intensive
process of designing the new car. Creating a car “from scratch” (and that’s
exactly what they did for this model) required great efforts from the company’s
engineers who worked on the body design, paying special attention to safety.

The most important element in protecting the driver and the single passenger
was the complex design of the safety arc, located between the seat backs, and
the drive mechanism elements for the folding top. Interestingly, in addition to
automatically triggering in case of danger, it could be activated manually by a
button on the transmission shaft.

This design was realized for the first time on
a production vehicle. Important active safety elements such as ESP and Brake
Assist were also used on the R129 vehicles.

The new generation of SL sports roadster was presented at the prestigious Geneva Motor Show in
March 1989. Buyers were offered several variations of the model with gasoline engines of different
displacement and power: 300 SL, 300 SL-24, and 500 SL.

Conceptually and ideologically, the new
car continued the development of the previous theme of a luxury sports car, but differed with fresh
solutions both in construction and design. To increase production capacity, SL production was
moved from the Sindelfingen plant to the Bremen facility.

But the car aroused so much interest that
the annual production volume of 20,000 vehicles was not enough to meet the demand, and the queue
to purchase one was several years long. Wealthy buyers were ready to overpay speculators more
than 10,000 DM for the opportunity to immediately get the coveted roadster.

Read the continuation of this story in the book.

Other books about history of Mercedes:

Mercedes-Benz SL-Class