NAIAS: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550

Jack Baruth
by Jack Baruth
naias 2013 mercedes benz sl550

“SL” traditionally stood for “Sport Leicht” or “Sport Light”, but the last SL to be truly worthy of that name was the original 300SL. With aluminum-intensive construction, the new SL is meant to be considerably lighter — 275 pounds, SL550 v. SL550 — than its remarkably chunky predecessor. “Light” is relative. With a 429-horsepower V-8, the SL550 will be quick. So “Sport”, too, after a fashion.

The hilarity came when Mercedes reps made a claim about the SL that is unlikely to ever be true…

“Investment.” It was pointed out that the increase in value of original 300SL Gullwings has beaten the Dow Jones Index over the past fifty-some years. “The SL is an investment.” Somebody should tell this guy who can’t get a $45,000 bid on his six-year-old $196,000 SL65. In reality, there are very few things that depreciate faster than a high-end Mercedes SL, and two of them (the S-class AMG sedans and the CL-class AMG coupes) are sold by the same company.

For those of who aren’t worried about ROI, the SL has a few nifty gadgets on order. A “Magic Sky” roof option on the by-now-traditional folding hardtop can take the transparent glass overhead to Compton-style tint at the flick of a switch. The “Frontbass” system claims to be the first time that awesome bass tubes have ever been integrated into the body-in-white of a production automobile. That may be because nobody else ever wanted to do it. Still, if you had a Bazooka tube in your Celica thirty years ago, or if you go by the name “Tigra” or “Bunny”, this is good news.

Upon the SL550’s release, a special model, the “Edition 1”, will be available. The Edition 1 will combine a full load of factory options with special designo paint. That one should lose value faster than nude pictures of Courtney Love but it will also probably be quite satisfying to own during the warranty period.

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9 of 24 comments
  • Les Les on Jan 10, 2012

    I loathe and despise Speculators.. they ruined comic-books and they're bound and determined to ruin cars to. In other news, I remember Bazooka Tubes, first time I saw them was a pair zip-tied to the roll-bar struts on a 1980's Jeep CJ.

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    • Les Les on Jan 11, 2012

      @Felis Concolor Granted, you do have a point there.. I just feel that the comic book industry could've better survived it's stumble if the sudden speculator-driven spike hadn't artificially raised it far above it's aspirations.. it's a common failing in Western Market Capitalism, speculation pushing natural rises in the market into unsustainable bubbles and making the inevitable dip that much more painful coming down.

  • Daveainchina Daveainchina on Jan 10, 2012

    investment? they really said that? If I was drinking any liquid, the person who was speaking would be wearing it because I'd have laughed so hard. Who are they trying to kid? The gullwing, sure that's an investment because of all it's style and rarity. This thing? rare sure, style? eh..nothing really changing the world here. Technology advancements? Not really, more like iterations of technology that easy generation gets a touch better, nothing ground-breaking. Heck I'd call the CTS-V more of an investment for about 20-30 years from now. Not this, I doubt most people will care about this car in 20-30 years.

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    • Felis Concolor Felis Concolor on Jan 11, 2012

      @Les Having fallen in love with a custom Pacer wagon project, I can hardly be a proper barometer of future trends, but take a look around at the current market and see what oddball designs and niche market products truly stand out and you'll have a good cross section of what will capture the imagination for restoration. High performance variants will always have appeal to the restoration buff, but those are far too easy to pick. I'll put the first-gen Miata on the list along with the forthcoming FR-S simply because they are going to or have already experienced extensive savaging on the used car market. Likewise Toyota's first generation bB should be a future "barn find" - and I honestly think Chrysler's Crossfire with its wild styling and those hood grooves will snare the unwary into attempting restoration. Heck, even the Aztek will become one of those restoration challenges, if the number of surviving '62 Dodge Polaras are any indication of the staying power of weird styling. The big problem with much of today's automobiles - and really any automobile from the past 30 years - is the use of proprietary electronic control modules and displays. Perhaps there will arise a market for a general programmable logic and control module to interface with the old electronics gear or to replace failed units for which there are no longer available replacements. I can already imagine a future toolbox filled with a carburetor synchronizer right next to a set of DIP, ZIP and PGA chip pullers. And regarding our prior discussion, a friend stopped by this morning for a few minutes which turned into 3 hours and a "honey, where are you?" phone call. It was amazing how many more factors than I thought of were involved in the domestic comic industry's collapse. He had run a comic shop for the better part of 3 decades so his insights and rants were especially extensive - and it was far too easy to draw direct parallels to the domestic auto industry's woes leading up to today's situation.

  • MaintenanceCosts Despite my hostile comments above I really can't wait to see a video of one of these at the strip. A production car running mid-eights is just bats. I just hope that at least one owner lets it happen, rather than offloading the car from the trailer straight into a helium-filled bag that goes into a dark secured warehouse until Barrett-Jackson 2056.
  • Schurkey Decades later, I'm still peeved that Honda failed to recall and repair the seat belts in my '80 Civic. Well-known issue with the retractors failing to retract.Honda cut a deal with the NHTSA at that time, to put a "lifetime warranty" on FUTURE seat belts, in return for not having to deal with the existing problems.Dirtbags all around. Customers screwed, corporation and Government moves on.
  • Bullnuke An acquaintance of mine 50+ years ago who was attending MIT (until General Hershey's folks sent him his "Greetings" letter) converted an Austin Mini from its staid 4 cylinder to an electric motored fuel cell vehicle. It was done as a project during his progression toward a Master Degree in Electrical Engineering. He told me it worked pretty well but wasn't something to use as a daily driver given the technology and availability of suitable components of the time. Fueling LH2 and LOX was somewhat problematic. Upon completion he removed his fuel cell and equipment and, for another project, reinstalled the 4 banger but reassembled it without mechanical fasteners using an experimental epoxy adhesive instead which, he said, worked much better and was a daily driver...for awhile. He went on to be an enlisted Reactor Operator on a submarine for a few years.
  • Ajla $100k is walking around money but this is almost certainly the last Dodge V8 vehicle and it's likely to be the most powerful factory-installed and warrantied pushrod engine ever. So there is some historical applicability to things even if you have an otherwise low opinion of the Challenger.And, like I said up thread, if you still hate it will be gone soon anyway.
  • Carlson Fan GM completely blew the marketing of the Volt. The commercials were terrible. You'd swear they told the advertising company to come up with an ad that would make sure no one went out and shopped a Volt after seeing it!...........LOL My buddy asked why I bought a car that only goes 40 miles on a charge? That pretty much sums up how confusing and uninformative the advertising was.