Mercedes 560Sl Specificationsby Michael G. Sanchez
By 1989 -- its final year of production -- the third-generation Mercedes-Benz SL roadster was an automotive dinosaur. Although it had gotten various updates and new engines over the years, it was still fundamentally the same car Mercedes had introduced way back in 1972. Despite its age, the SL 560 remained a prized automotive status symbol and an iconic part of the brand's lineup until it was finally replaced by the all-new, third-generation SL in 1990.
The 560 SL was 180.3 inches long, 70.5 inches wide and 50.8 inches high. It rode on a 96.7-inch wheelbase, which measured 57.6 inches at the front track and 56.7 inches at the rear. The Mercedes' base curb weight was a substantial 3,780 pounds.
Drivetrain & Chassis
The 560 SL carried a big, 5.6-liter V-8 under its long hood. The single-overhead-cam, fuel-injected engine produced 227 horsepower at 5,200 rpm and 287 foot-pounds of torque at 3,500 rpm. Power was directed to the rear wheels by a four-speed automatic transmission. The 560 SL could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in approximately 8 seconds, which was reasonably quick in its day. It had a top speed of about 140 mph.
The SL employed disc brakes with ABS at all four corners, which was not yet common in the late 1980s. The car had a double-wishbone front suspension and a diagonal axle setup in the rear. A traditional recirculating-ball steering system was used, rather than the more-modern rack-and-pinion type.
The SL 560's cabin is a clear reminder of how complex modern luxury car interiors have become. In 2014, its relative lack of buttons, knobs and display screens is striking. Back in 1989, though, the SL's leather-upholstered and burl-wood-trimmed cabin was among the finest examples of automotive luxury available. Standard features included a driver's-side airbag, air conditioning, cruise control and power windows, locks and mirrors. Notably unavailable were power adjustable seats and a tilt-and-telescoping steering wheel. The only options offered were heated seats and electrically-operated orthopedic backrests.
Due to its relatively heavy chassis, big V-8 and less-than-contemporary aerodynamics, the 560 SL was a bit of a gas-guzzler. It returned about 14 mpg in city driving and 17 mpg when cruising on the highway.
When new, the SL 560 was a decidedly expensive ride. The 1989 model had a base price of $65,780. In 2014 dollars, that amounts to around $127,219. While the 1980s SL is considered a desirable, collectible car by many, used prices remain fairly reasonable circa 2014. As with any vehicle, particularly one that's over two decades old, condition plays a huge part in determining value. According to The Hagerty Group LLC, an insurance company that specializes in collectible cars, a 1989 560 SL in decent but not perfect condition should go for something in the neighborhood of $15,000. A mint, car-show ready example could sell for as high as $30,000.
Michael G. Sanchez has been a professional writer for over 10 years. A lifelong car enthusiast and former senior mechanic, he has written on a wide range of automotive topics. He holds a bachelor's degree in English literature from Castleton State College. Sanchez started writing about cars as a part-time copywriter for a local dealership while still in high school.