Project Sadie – Mercedes Benz SL55 AMG

At Secret Entourage have done countless car buyer’s guides for today’s top exotics and have even talked about the best cars to buy under $30,000. It’s been a while so this month we decided to talk about what we think is one of the best luxury cars you can buy under $30,000. Our pick this month is the Mercedes Benz SL55 AMG and with a sticker price of $130,000, it seems out of reach for many people, but thankfully for our car buying system, you can identify some of today’s nicest and lowest mileage SL55’s between 2003-2006 for $22,000 to $30,000. You could essentially be driving one of the iconic Mercedes Benz SL55 AMG’s for less than a new Honda Accord.

We decided to buy a 2005 SL55 due to the technology upgrades that went into the SL55 in the 2005+ models. Better technology means you get a better newer car for very little over what an 03-04 sells for. Furthermore, we opted to find a grey or silver car, and found a pewter grey on black interior. It was hard to find a car as clean with low mileage as we did so it took a while.
We eventually found this two owner car in absolutely mint condition both inside out with only 40,000 miles. We paid $29,500 for this mint car, which was $3000 more than wholesale, but well worth it due to the condition. Remember what we outline in our system, it’s not about the cheapest but rather about the best value.

Options: Our car came with keyless go, dynamic seats, nav, and distronic but was missing one of the best options available: the panoramic roof which is not only popular, but also changes the roof to black glass and looks very modern on the design. Otherwise our car was what we wanted.

Maintenance: SL55’s are pretty easy maintenance cars and now that they are over 5-8 years old, most of the basic campaigns and issues have been resolved on all models. Basic oil changes can be done with a good private mechanic for $100 and other maintenance is fairly cheap and affordable.

What to avoid: Basic ABC pump issues, suspension bags, sensors for the convertible top, and the bags in the seats tend to be the main things that go bad. You may think that it’s a lot but it really isn’t, as its very easy to point out which cars have such issues and most 03-04 were notorious for them. Nonetheless, all you have to do is simply get familiar with the warranty or repair history and see if the ABC pump was switched before or if there were continuous issues with the convertible top in the first 2-3 years of ownership.

If you tend to find one that was pretty healthy and well kept, it will usually be bulletproof for the most part. One of the issues you’ll also notice in all models older than 07 is the buttons tend to go bad when cleaned over and over with cleaners and chemical products. Finding a clean car will mean looking at more than one and understanding that the difference in price usually involves condition, which is why you may see certain models selling for $5K less than others. This is one of those cars you want to visually inspect yourself.

Modifications: For our SL55, we decided to focus on very basic and affordable modifications that completely transformed the car. We chose a set of cast wheels with a concave look, staying within the 5 star design of the OEM wheels available on the 2007 cars. For that we reached out to Concavo Wheels who supplied us with a set of their CV-05 Wheels in a machine finish and matte black windows in 20×9 and 20×10.5, which we wrapped in Nitto Tires and lowered on links from Fine Exotics. We complemented the design and finish with painting the OEM grille in matte black and adding a carbon fiber lip provided by RW Carbon.

We believe the R230 SL55’s design is timeless and truly a bargain at a fraction of the cost of a newer one. With very few modifications at a very affordable rate, you can turn some of the basic older components of the car into a more modern and recent look. Great car but more importantly, a lot of car for the money.