Legendary Mercedes-Benz design chief Bruno Sacco has called the R129 SL his “most perfect car,” and this model is the purest execution of that work. Compared to the preceding model R107, brightwork is almost completely absent—the three-pointed star centered in the grille is the only chrome element. The long hood and steeply raked windshield telegraph the SL’s position as an exotic roadster, while the swept-back grille and smooth flanks show its fealty to aerodynamics.
The 1996 revision brought an end to the two-tone color scheme. It also saw a modified grille with fewer bars, reshaped front and rear bumpers, changes to the front signal lights and taillights, and altered side fender vents. Inside, the seats, steering wheel, and door panels were modified. An optional Sport package became available, which is visually distinguished by staggered-width 18-inch AMG monoblock wheels, more-sculpted rocker panels, and projector-beam fog lights.
The ’96 model year also saw the introduction of stability control (ESP), which was an option on the SL500 and standard on the SL600. At the same time, Brake Assist, which increases braking response in emergency situations, made its debut on the R129 SL.
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