Review and Test Drive: 1993 Mercedes-Benz 500SL Coupe/Roadster

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The SL coupe/roadster carries with it a distinctive style that continues to convey the look of its noble Gullwing predecessor with more modern styling, which a quarter of a century later doesn’t look dated. The car came fully equipped in terms of standard equipment that included automatic climate control, leather upholstered seats and interior, walnut wood trim, ten-way power front bucket seats with three-position memory, electric windows with one-touch-down, a Bose concert sound system, and an automatic day-night mirror. The central locking system also locks the storage compartments in each door.

With its long hood, wide stance, high rear deck (with ample trunk space), and raked windshield, the look is low and elegant. With the top down, it’s ready for a day in the sun. With it up, it’s an elegant coupe.

Safety equipment includes dual air bags, halogen headlamps and projector-beam front fog lamps, an automatic pop-up roll bar, cruise control, and automatic slip control. The hardtop’s rear window is heated as are the side-view mirrors and windshield/headlamp wiper-washer system, and the single arm eccentric-sweep windshield wiper is vehicle speed sensitive.

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Insert and turn the key (it has an infrared remote locking and unlocking system that was inoperative on this particular vehicle) and the magnificent 5.0-liter V8 roars to life, followed by the Bose concert-quality sound system, with the optional CD changer in the trunk.

The SL’s seats deserve special mention. Even 25 years and 38,000 miles (61,155 kilometers) later, the contoured seats were exceptionally firm and comfortable using a lightweight, cast magnesium substructure so strong that Mercedes’ engineers integrated the three-point seat belt with the seat, making it exceptionally easy to buckle in.

Immediately behind the seats is the pop-up roll bar which relies on electronic sensors to detect an imminent rollover. Should one occur (we didn’t test), it would rise in one-third of a second, even with the hardtop in place.

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