By on January 9, 2012

“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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24 Comments on “NAIAS: 2013 Mercedes-Benz SL550...”


  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    We like the Benzes, the Benzes that go boom. We’re Keith and the voices in his head, and we like the boom.

  • avatar
    imag

    Thank you for shooting the fish in the marketing barrel. It’s sad that no one else even tries.

  • avatar
    SV

    It may only be January but I bet this is going to be the biggest letdown of the year. Where SLs are supposed to be elegant and classy, this…is the exact opposite. Clumsy, brutish and unappealing.

    Mercedes could really use some fresh blood in their design department.

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    Has the original 300SL really increased in value (more than the DJI) after you adjust for maintenance and repair costs?

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      Yes. They will soon be $500K cars at the rate they are going up. Anyone who bought one a few years back when they were $50K cars is smiling all the way to the bank. Collector cars ARE like the stock market in that the values can be cyclical – plenty of folks got badly burned in the ’90s.

      Hard to say if the current one will be anywhere near THAT desirable in 50 years, but buy one, use it sparingly and keep it well maintained and it will eventually be worth more than you paid for it. Inflation alone will see to that.

      Any reasonably desirable car will eventually be worth rather more than it cost. You just have to wait long enough. Even my lowly ’74 Triumph Spitfire is worth near 3X what it cost new, and I could certainly sell it for a profit vis-a-vis what I paid for it 18 years ago, all costs inclusive. Would it outperform the stock market over those 18 years? Dunno, maybe, considering where things stand right now. I certainly will never lose any money on the car – it costs nothing to run ($25/yr registration, $65/yr insurance, maybe $100/yr in maintenance), and I only drive it ~1K a year. It’s worth a little more every year.

      • 0 avatar
        outback_ute

        1. It is many years since an SL300 was worth $50k, many have sold for $500k already.
        2. Its not hard to say at all, the current SL’s (and any since the original, can’t hold a candle to the Gullwing. It is hard to really grasp how far ahead of other cars it was at the time of introduction in performance, it is a style icon and it had a strong race heritage – none of which apply to later cars. They also only made 1400 Gullwings & 1858 roadsters in 6 years, fewer than what they would do each year these days.

      • 0 avatar
        Dr. Kenneth Noisewater

        For a modern SL to be as technologically marvelous as the first one, I’m thinking it would need to have at least an aluminum and/or titanium spaceframe with carbon fiber body, and electric motors with a gas turbine genset or fuel cell that uses gasoline (either via SOFC or on-board reformulation). Maybe 400kW worth of motors (either 2 or 4, though in-wheel motors increase unsprung weight) within 1200kg.

      • 0 avatar
        wsn

        “Any reasonably desirable car will eventually be worth rather more than it cost. You just have to wait long enough. Even my lowly ’74 Triumph Spitfire is worth near 3X what it cost new”

        The Dow Jones index was roughly 600~800 in 1974. It’s 12449 today. A 15~20 fold gain. And that has taken into account that the Dow gained nothing in the past 10 years.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @wsn

        I never said my Triumph outperformed the stock market since it was new, just maybe since I bought it.

        So since you obviously are clued in on the stock market, what was the Dow Jones on July 7, 1994 (my 25th birthday, call it a 1/4 life crisis) when I bought the car for $2800? It is worth $10K now, more or less. And of course, I have had a heck of a lot more fun in the Spitfire than I have had looking at my stock portfolio, there is value in that too. And the longer I keep it, the more it is worth. With little chance of a major slide in value, as cheap classic cars have been fairly immune from such.

        Of course the real winners are those who bought “old” Ferrari racing cars back in the early 70’s for $5K-10K. Nick Mason’s 250GTO for example. Worth an easy $7-10 million right now, maybe considerably more on the right day at the right auction.

        Will this Mercedes be worth that? Not a chance. But keep one low mileage and shiny for 50 years and it will be worth quite a lot.

    • 0 avatar
      jonnyguitar

      I plan to hold on to my 2008 m3 indefinitely.

      V8 power is on the chopping block.

      Based on that, might see better future value.

  • avatar
    Felis Concolor

    Thanks for the memory jog. In the mid to late 80s, I ran a pair of 6-½” Bazooka tubes corner-loaded in the back of my beloved L-bodies. I never needed to connect more than a small but very clean 18W amplifier to them, as their efficiency was even better than everyone remembers. It was always fun to make the other guys nervous in the parking lots by starting up an organ fugue and waiting for their startled expressions when that low C made their dashboards vibrate.

    One car stereo shop owner carried the full line of SAS’s products, but he always refused to sell 2 of their 10″ models to anybody. He’d be more than happy to sell them a single unit, and then if they were still stupid enough to want more, he’d sell them another one a week later.

  • avatar
    JJ

    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.

    Sweet.

  • avatar
    Toad

    $3 per mile depreciation, minimum. Ouch. You would be better off investing with Bernie Madoff.

  • avatar
    mnm4ever

    haha, dont hate on Bunny and Tigra, I love them. And Bazookas are cool old school bass, I still have one (though it isnt hooked up in anything right now)

  • avatar
    Les

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      Carzzi

      Nobody cries for speculators when they lose. And hardly do speculators on the losing end make the news. And they do lose. A lot.

    • 0 avatar
      Felis Concolor

      The comic book industry did a fantastic job of destroying itself; speculators had nothing to do with that.

      When your business model revolves around never offering full reprint volumes and pandering to independent shop owners who make all their profits from the secondary market, you end up with such abominations as the Variant Cover Era, which attempted to increase profits by selling the same material in slightly altered packaging. Once customers realized just how empty the new marketing model was, its collapse was just as impressive as Detroit’s meltdown. It took an independent publisher who cheerfully ignored the howls of protest from small shop owners and offered quality reprints to whoever wanted to buy them to actually grow the market and reignite popular interest in graphical storytelling.

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        Where do you think that business model came from? Speculators drove-up demand when previous generations of comic book fans who grew older and acquired a spot of money and started buying-up rare issues for ludicrous sums and so the speculators thought, “Hmmm, methinks I smell an appreciating asset.”

        Comic books came off the grocery-store racks and into ‘specialty shops’ and were given special super-exclusive one-off editions and variant covers to feed the growing demand for ‘collector’s commodities’.

        Then, the speculators tried selling these new ‘assets’ and realized.. woops, that ‘Action Comics #1’ is so valuable because most of the original copies were tossed in the bin.. these ‘special deluxe collecter’s editions’ were printed in the Millions.

        I loathe and despise speculators for who they are and what they represent as an enthusiast and a hobbyiest.. someone who buys into a thing not because they necessarily have any interest in the thing itself but because they see it as an ‘investment’, and they take away some of the value of that thing from those who appreciate it for it’s own sake as a result. It happened with comic books with them cornering the market on and driving the prices up for rare original prints and is happening now with limited-run cars bought-up not to drive and enjoy but to go straight into climate-controlled warehouses to sit for a few years before the Speculator tries a hand at getting a return on investment from the enthusiasts who never had a chance to own one new because the hedge-fund managers managed to get their orders in first.

        Now with this we see the first steps of the Car Industry, which you rightly point-out has enough problems already, setting itself up for the same fall the major comic-book publishers faced from over-specializing to chase a phantom-market.

        Oh, did I mention I just flat-out hate speculators? Hate-Hate-Hate-Hate-Hate. >_<

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        Fair enough, although I still consider the lack of new customers to have been a more important factor when an eroded base failed to cushion the shock of departure by a suddenly disinterested few. Spending more time to generate good quality story lines would have helped a lot more than worrying about the logistics of foil stamping a leather cover for what should be considered a disposable product. And pushing for more conventional distribution channels was something the big publishers ignored until it was too late.

        I prefer to follow Carzzi’s lead when it comes to speculators.
        /point
        /laugh

      • 0 avatar
        Les

        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.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    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.

    • 0 avatar
      Les

      Hmm, here’s an interesting thought-exercise..

      What cars made today does anyone think will be the ‘new classics’?

      I don’t mean the ones that ‘Speculators’ will pass around between each other with nothing but delivery-miles on he Odometers every ten years, I mean in 30-40-50 years time what car will make someone go…

      “Holy crap, a 2012 [xxxxx] , I can’t believe you actually have one of these in this condition. I can’t wait to get it out and start pouring money into the restoration.”

      When they pull a dusty tarp off it after it’s been sitting in the barn gathering dirt and rodents for at least twenty years.

      • 0 avatar
        Felis Concolor

        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.

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