Following the remarkable 3rd generation which had been produced for 18 years running, the dramatically advanced, fourth generation R129 model SL made its debut at the 1989 Geneva Motor Show. Mercedes-Benz chief designer Bruno Sacco blended sport and luxury in a manner befitting the SL name, while still leaving a hint of relevance between the existing Mercedes line-up. This model is especially notable for its elegant electric top which is completely stored behind the seats. Thorough attention has been paid to safety equipment, even including a roll bar that instantly pops up to protect passengers in the event of a rollover.
At the time of its debut, the SL came only in the 500SL, with a 5.0L V8 DOHC engine producing 302 BHP and 46.9 kgf.m. In 1992, with thhe development of a 6.0L V12, the 600SL debuted. This model became the flagship of the SL series with a maximum power output of 389 BHP. The lineup was completed following the 1994 release of the SL 320, with a 3.2L DOHC inline=6. At this time, the car names were also changed, with the numbers indicating engine capacity and the model name bbecoming reversed.
The SL series still continued to advance thereafter. In 1996, all vehicles were equipped with 5-speed ATs. In 1998, the engine was changed to a new modular unit, changing the SL320 from a DOHC inline 6 to a SOHC , and the SL500 from a DOHC V8 to a SOHC V8. Though this may sound like a downgrade, the loss of power was minimal, and the reduction in weight improved their handling.
The SL was a two-seater with the same luxury and incredible performance as the S-series, and for twelve years continued to live up to its name as Mercedes-Benz's flagship sports car.Template:Copyright Notice