Mercedes "Variocolor" Paint Trends: 2000 SL500 in Designo Slate Blue Metallic


The Mercedes-Benz collector marketplace is full of low-mileage, well-maintained R129s. With almost 205,000 examples built, the R129 is a phenomenal chassis, but certainly not a rarity by any measure. So, how does a prospective R129 buyer differentiate from the other 200,000+ examples out there? Aside from rare pre-merger AMG examples, and special editions (like the Silver Arrow, Mille Miglia & 40th Anniversary models), rare colors and options are the best way to blaze a trail behind the wheel of one of these venerable 1990s-era roadsters


This particular 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL500 - listed here in Atlanta - is finished in a unique and striking combination of Designo Slate Blue Metallic (023) paint over Nappa leather with matching blue inserts. This rare paint color option is actually a “variocolor” which presents as more green or blue depending on the ambient lighting. Although somewhat difficult to describe, the seller states that this color: “changes hue from dark blue-gray in the shade to shimmery shades of blue, purple & green in sunlight”. These “color changing” paint options were all the rage in the late 1990s (for better or worse) beginning with the Mazda RX-7 FD’s “Montego Blue Mica” chameleon-shifting blue-green paint in the early 1990s.


In addition to the blue Nappa leather inserts on the seats and door panels, this example features the rare and desirable Designo charcoal curled maple (W20; W12) wood accents in the steering wheel, doors and center console. The shifter and steering wheel are separately optioned in the same Designo wood design pattern as option numbers Y94 & Y95, respectively. This example shows signs of wear to the leather on the wheel and driver's seat (with no close-up photos of the bolster). A close inspection of this area would be wise to any potential buyers as dying or replacing the blue inserts would be a difficult and/or expensive chore to undertake on this roadster.


This SL500 R129 is powered by a 5.0-liter V8 M113 featuring forged connecting rods and two spark plugs per cylinder; offering factory ratings of 302 horsepower and 339 lb-ft of torque. Power is sent to the rear wheels via a five-speed automatic transmission which was available in the R129 as of the 1996 model year.


Currently showing 59,000 miles, this particular example presents nicely in the handful of photos provided, and the seller claims to be only the second owner; maintaining it for the last 16 years.


Unfortunately, despite the gorgeous color combination, this particular example lacks a few options that would truly make it a “must buy” listing. Chief among them is the SL1 Sport styling package. As seen in this bringatrailer listing from 2019, the SL1 package - when combined with the Designo Slate Blue color - really sets off the AMG styling and the lines of the gorgeous R129 platform. In a perfect world, the original owner would have ticked both the SL1 Sport and SL2 luxury packages on his order form but, even without those desirable options, this remains an excellent and unique choice for anyone in the R129 market right now.


If the seller can provide strong service records from his 16 years of ownership (especially any records showing replacement or rebuilding of the top hydraulics) this example may very well be worth considering at or around the seller’s $13,000 asking price.

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