It's one of the big check boxes on the car enthusiast bucket list: Owning an engine with 12 cylinders.
You're here for that engine
To experience the smoothness, the effortless power, and the bragging rights you get when your friends see that V12 badge on the front fender. And thanks to depreciation, you can put a big German V12 in your driveway for less than two thousand dollars per cylinder. With our autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week this week, a 1998 Mercedes SL600.
The fourth-generation Mercedes-Benz SL roadster was built from 1989 through to 2002. It sat alongside the S-class sedan and the CL, which was the coupe version of the SL. The SL is the one you want. The open top makes for effortless summer cruising, and even with the roof up, it has better proportions and styling than the coupe.
Back then Mercedes' big cars lived long lives. But timeless styling and feature updates mean that as the generation moved forward, the styling didn't look dated, and inside and underneath the cars got better.
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The SL model is a two-seat roadster, and despite the price and size of the car, they were all soft tops. To make up for the soft top, Mercedes-Benz originally included an aluminum detachable hardtop with the cars. It weighs about 35 kg, and can be installed by two people, or by just one using a special hoist that was available at the time.
When the fourth-generation SL was introduced, it had some pioneering safety and tech features. Like a roll bar that could deploy in a third of a second in the event of an imminent rollover. This was the most luxurious two-door Benz at the time and was equipped accordingly. By 1998, near the end of the run, the SL had xenon headlights, rain-sensing wipers, stability control, and more modern and convenient controls for the ventilation.
But even though the sublime leather seats have magnesium frames and 22 different patents, that's not what you're here for. You're here for that engine.
The SL came with a surprising variety of engines. All the way down to a 190 hp 2.8L inline six. There were some V8 options over the years too. But the top engine was the V12. 6.0L, quad cams, 389 hp and 420 lb-ft of torque. The V12 design is one of the smoothest engine types available. With two sets of six cylinders, the pistons fire in a very balanced manner. The constant and balanced explosions make for a smooth engine. That smoothness means that the V12 revs quickly as well.
The V12 from the SL 600 is the same engine that would go on to power the Pagani Zonda. It made more power and was a little bigger at 7.3L in that hypercar, but being chosen by Pagani is a pretty great reference for an engine.
Attached to a five-speed automatic by 1998, the engine could propel the 2,000 kg roadster from 0-100 km/h in 5.9 seconds. Lightning fast for the time, and still no slouch by today's standards.
The owner of this SL 600 is upfront with the condition of the car. It's a US car, imported from Nevada, which means the dash is in miles. It comes with a set of 18-inch wheels, as well as the smaller factory set.
The owner says that while the hardtop is included and everything electronic works, the interior could use a bit of a freshening up. But that's to be expected in a flagship car that's nearly 20 years old. Especially one that's for sale for about the same price as a new Honda Civic.
So if you want a chance at a legendary V12 for a not legendary price tag, our autoTRADER.ca Find of the Week, this 1998 SL 600, for sale in Richmond, BC, might be just what you're looking for.