Mercedes SL 73 AMG: Rarer Than A Pagani Zonda And The Coolest R129 Of Them All

This Mercedes SL 73 AMG is one of the rarest AMG variants ever to exist, signifying the absolute best money could buy at the time.

It is estimated that AMG built between 40 and 50 examples of the SL 73 from 1997 to 2001, so exclusivity is on par with the best in that field. This is a 1999 facelifted example that was delivered new in Japan and it shows just under 35,000 km (21,700 miles) on the odometer.

In order to turn this beautiful R129 into an SL 73, AMG took the 6.0-liter M120 V12 engine and enlarged it to 7.3 liters and adding upgraded internals. The end result is a rather very healthy 525 HP and 553 lb-ft (750 Nm) of torque. The fact that it shares its engine with the Pagani Zonda makes it even cooler.

Also Read: One-Off Pagani Zonda Aether Is The First Zonda Auctioned In Seven Years

Performance is quite strong as you might expect, with the SL 73 AMG able to reach over 200 mph (322 km/h) flat out, once the 155 mph top speed limiter is removed. 0-60 mph is ‘traction limited’ to 4.6 seconds. AMG also made some necessary upgrades to the active suspension and braking system in order for the SL to keep up with the power.

The exterior differences are really subtle, making the SL 73 AMG one of the most undercover performers out there; AMG’s discreet bodykit compliments the elegant body lines, as does the set of the classic five-spoke alloy wheels. A twin exhaust and small exterior badging are the only giveaways that this SL packs some serious punch, while the cabin features the optional ergonomic seats dressed in black leather and the extended leather dashboard and door cards.

Overall, this SL 73 AMG is one of the finest modern classics available today, not to mention its exclusivity. Interested parties, head to RM Sotheby’s London auction on October 24 and place their bid.

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  • Matteo Tommasi

    FR Zonda

  • europeon

    I wonder why did the carbon fiber cover yellowed out. I doubt any UV rays got under the hood long enough to cause that.

    • Mike anonymous

      Carbon Fiber is a composite material, And there can be many variations of carbon fiber (which can be woven into a great many specific patterns). UV rays are simply a specific wavelength of light/energy (heat simply energy at a higher vibration). With that it can be presumed that (not necessarily ‘natural’ heat such as weather or sunlight) could have been a specific catalyst for the coating on the carbon-fiber itself to have yellowed.

      Possible Reason #1
      If I had to take a guess. I would presume it to be the coating that has aged overtime due to irregular (and) excessive heat, (and possibly improper/insufficient ventilation to dissipate said heat).

      Possible Reason #2
      It may be that the carbon fiber itself was originally made as shown.

      I personally would go with Possible Reason #1, But it could be a great many number of things. Although, personally, I don’t think it takes much if anything away from this really neat vehicle.

      • europeon

        It’s not the CF per se that’s yellowing, it’s the resin. UV an IR are on opposite sides of the visible spectrum, IR being the one close to thermal radiation on the spectrum. I hope this clarifies the science part that you were trying to understand 🙂
        Also, heat doesn’t affect CF in this manner, higher temperatures simply burn or melt it.

        Let’s try again.

        • Mike anonymous

          UV > (Visible Spectrum) > IR . My Point is that they ‘are’ all apart of the same spectrum, albeit on opposite sides of the spectrum.

          Heat ‘is’ the vibration (vibration determines wavelength and frequency) of energy. This would mean that all areas throughout the entire spectrum are ‘heat’ (even if we may feel it as cold, as ‘cold’ is only a lack of heat.). Matter would not exist without this heat on some/any level. Although UV and IR are on separate sides of the spectrum, they ‘are’ on the same spectrum. Words such as ‘heat’ and ‘cold’ are only used in relevance to ‘hospitable’ temperatures.

          In regards to the ‘science’ part, to my knowledge I am correct.


          As for what it is that is ‘yellowing’, the ‘Resin’ (which I previously referred to as ‘coating’) I speculated it could be the heat,. But as you’ve stated heat does not affect it (CF) in that specific manner. Carbon Fiber CF is not naturally glossy as shown. (I understood that is was either the specific materials used for the CF ‘or’ it was the resin/coating itself that was yellowing but I couldn’t tell).

          heat doesn’t affect CF in this manner, higher temperatures simply burn or melt it.

          What I found regarding the specific coating was;

          When UV light hits the resin—either directly or indirectly—it degrades the polymers. Although this degradation from UV light is a natural process (UV light is typically always harmful to everything on earth over time), it causes observable, undesirable, aesthetically displeasing characteristics…
          …indoors will begin to discolor generally within 6 months to a year if it was coated in a resin product that contained only a UV stabilizer.

          So my previous thoughts on it being related to ‘heat’ actually were correct (Intensity is the amount of energy passing through a specified area in a specified amount of time.). Considering this vehicle is nearly 30+ years old, it seems to actually be good condition, but if it is the Resin specifically that is yellowing then it is due to exposure overtime (Do note that sunlight is not the ‘only’ source of UV light, it is just simply a ‘major’ source of it). Depending on the Resin/coating it can yellow within 24 hours, therefore I do believe the owner of the vehicle has taken relatively good care, considering the vehicle likely use.

          In short; it seems to be due to heat and/or exposure overtime which is causing the resin (if that ‘is’ what is yellowing/’that color’) to appear as it does.

          P.S. +1 & Again Thank you for the clarification it was the resin/coating that was yellowing as I was not sure. I was confused in the first post if it was the CF that was that color, or if it was the coating (as it is possible to create different colors of carbon fiber, albeit expensive and unlikely in the situation considering when this vehicle was made).

    • Matt

      Same thing happens on B7 RS4 engines. Or perhaps they were slightly yellow from the factory?

  • I have these exact wheels for sale, original OEM R129 SL73 AMG Monoblock Style 1 Multi Piece Wheels

  • Bash

    Would it really hurt them if they made a new SL half as good as this?! This is pure beauty. And oozing elegance and say ( hey , my owner has deep pockets)


    • Bash

      Thank you for reminding us of that $Hi£

  • vanquishvantage

    This is by far the best looking of the modern SLs the generations after this one never really looked as good as this one. Gaining some odd proportions and styling cues

    • Porkopolis

      I wish I could upvote you more. This was THE Era of Mercedes – the automotive equivalent of “walk softly and carry a big stick.” Today’s AMGs look like they’re styled by Gundam in comparison.

    • Christian Wimmer

      The R230 which followed the R129 was actually pretty hot and worthy successor in my opinion. But the facelift of the R230 ruined the design.

      The current R231 started out hideously ugly, but the facelift improved its looks dramatically. It still does not come close to the R129 and R230, but it looks much better than the original R231.

  • Cobrajet

    It could come back as a V8 hybird.

  • richopp

    According to my long-term MB mechanic, the MB cars stopped being “real” MB cars around 1985. The 560 SEC through 1991 and these extensions of that model through their last one in 2001 were clearly the true “last” real MB cars.

    Since neither of us has ever actually SEEN one of these in person, I forgive him for missing them, but he is correct as are most posters here. The 1999 SL my friend bought a few years ago is simply a pile of trouble. The first thing an owner has to do is spend a few grand having the top cylinders sent to be rebuilt in Oregon by a man who replaces all the OEM crappy seals with real ones. Great decision on vendors, MB, or did you really care?

    My ’69 280SL wouldn’t get out of its own way, but what a great car to drive and own, even with the mechanical FI. I did not need 17 cylinders to put the beautiful dark green top up and down…just my hand. Same was true on my ’85 SL and remains true on my ’66 Corvette. I guess when you charge people 6 figures for a somewhat pretty but decidedly average car, you need to add stuff to get people to “wow” over it in the showroom. “See, only one finger on a button to do the top, honey!”

    When corporate decisions are made ONLY by the finance department, as is true in the third stage of all corporations, you get today’s MB cars–heavy on tech, not so much on reliability or quality. Yes, selling millions of cars helps the brand survive–BMW had to buy Rolls to keep it afloat, and according to a friend who leased a new “limited edition” Bentley a few years ago, the car was fine, but every single “special option” failed repeatedly to the point where he finally turned it in.

    Hard to find the old “quality” today in any mass-produced car. Hey, my ’07 Corolla runs perfectly (I keep it serviced with oil changes, etc.). so maybe quality has shifted from MB to Toyota????


  • atomicbri

    Another beautiful Bruno Sacco design. This is my favorite SL. I was 11 when it came out and I have loved cars since I was 4 or 5. I remember making my father take me to a Mercedes dealer just so I could go look around inside of it and sit in it. The dealership thought it was adorable and showed me the car as if I was a customer (granted of course I couldn’t drive it at 12 when I went). I even had a 1989 Maisto 1:18 Diecast model of one (was a maroon color) and had it in the box for years. I think this was the end of an era at Mercedes, as most models after never had the over engineered feeling ever again. I would love to get my hands on a mint one (doesn’t have to be this one of course, I’ll take a lowly V8 500SL LOL).

  • Christian Wimmer
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