The classic Mercedes 129 chassis (aside from being Bruce’s favorite car ever) also know as the SL300 and SL500, has to be one of the most amazing cars from a electromechanical technology standpoint. First released in 1989 and were in current production through 2002. The R129 replaced the R107 SL-Class in 1989 and was in its turn replaced by the R230 in 2003 (US). The R129 was produced as a two-door roadster with an automated (electro-hydraulic) textile tonneau cover. All R129s came standard with an detachable hardtop that could fitted by folding the canvas roof down and manually attaching it.
The technology which makes these cars cool, is unfortunately the technology which can be their undoing. With some of the earlier cars nearly a quarter century of use, the top hydraulics have become one of the weak points in an otherwise rock solid auto. Still, I can’t imagine that Mercedesever anticipated that these hydraulic systems would still be functioning some 25 years later, and it’s only a testimony to their superb German engineering that most still are.
How We Can Help
At Atlantic Motorcar we’ve deverloped some very specific procedures and tooling, combined with our expect technicians, to make this otherwise onerous repair a snap. Well, maybe not a “snap”, hard to call a day + of labor a snap, let’s just say that we make it flow very, very smoothly.
All told, the power hydraulic system on the 129 is compromised of 12 individual cylinders that do everything from unlatching the top, to moving the convertible top out of the way, and folding securely in the boot. If the soft top of your beloved SL roadster, or for that matter W124 Cabriolet, is not working any more or is very slow, chances are that the hydraulic cylinders that operate the top are leaking.
This is the main cause of failure of the soft top of these cars. The hydraulic seals inside the cylinders are made of material that is not very durable and degrade over the years in the mineral fluid independently whether you use the soft top a lot or do not use it at all. The hydraulic seals usually simply disintegrate. No stop leak is able to fix the problem as sometimes sections of the seal crack away creating a very large, and expensive damage to the interior of the car. The only correct and lasting repair is to replace the cylinders, which usually entails all of them so the problem does not repeat.
Atlantic Motorcar has deverloped some very specific procedures and tooling, combined with our expect technicians, to make this very challenging service last another quarter century!
Questions, or if we can be of help in any way with service on your Mini Cooper, BMW, or other European (and now Japanese) import, please contact us. Our team of Service Specialists are here to help, for even the newest autos! (207) 882-9969.
Knowing, not just “doing”, that’s the Atlantic Motorcar Center way of life.
The Atlantic Motorcar Center Service Team