Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Roadster

This is my new 1997 SL 500 Mercedes Roadster.   The original owner only put 40,000 miles on it, so it is like new.

What's unique about it?  Well, let's start with the engine; a V-8, 5.0L, with 32 valves, four cams and variable valve timing.  It produces 315 horsepower and 347 ft-lbs of torque. 

The torque is the most unusual thing about this engine.  Torque is what accelerates a car, not horsepower.  As a comparison, the Ferrari 360 has only  275 ft-lbs  and the Porsche 911 Carrera has only 295 foot-pounds.

Add to this the 5 speed automatic electronic overdrive transmission.  Before 1996, the SL 500 had a four speed hydraulic transmission.  The new 5 speed is a much needed improvement, which, when combined with the high torque, keeps you plastered against the seat through all the gears when you punch it.

The high performance 4-valve quad-cam engine was made from 1990 - 1998. The 1999 - 2006 V8s have only the  three valve, single overhead cam  design, resulting in less power and torque.  So, if you want the best engine (not the watered down Daimler-Chrysler version), and the best transmission (not the boring 4 speed hydraulic, that hesitates before downshifting), the years to look for are the 1996, 1997 and 1998.  Did I mention the one I found was a 1997?

Ok, what else?  The hardtop comes off, and the convertible top comes up.  This particular car has a brand new rag top.  Oh, and the stereo is a Bose, designed to blast you out with the top down when cruising at 150 mph on the autobahn.

This particular car was the 40th anniversary version, of which I am told only 500 were made.  That really doesn't mean much, except for some fancy trim and decals, and little extras like a 6 disc cd changer. 

And the best feature, it was cheap.  Really cheap, as in less than a fifth of it's original $90,000 price tag when new.

Ok, time to go for a ride!


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