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Mercedes R129 1st & 2nd Generation Comparison

Mercedes R129 1st & 2nd Generation Comparison

Added on: June 30, 2022
Author: octoclassic-club

Mercedes R129 1st & 2nd Generation Comparison

What is the Difference Between Mercedes R129 1st & 2nd Generation?

Same, but different

Often, if you look at Mercedes R129 models, many have gone through many modifications, changes, and upgrades. This means that their owners use spare parts which lower the value of the car. Before you buy this car, for sure you will ask: What is the Difference Between the Mercedes R129 1st & 2nd Generation? We prepared this Mercedes R129 1st & 2nd Generation Comparison to answer this question.

We would like to introduce to you the visual difference that you can see in the facelift version of the first-generation Mercedes R129. This will be helpful for anyone who thinks of buying an SL from 90. If you collect classic cars and wish to be sure about the difference between these versions and their originality, this article is for you. If you are looking for an original car, it could be fairly costly often because the previous owner had to invest in original parts.

The R129 debuted in 1989, and from that time to 2001, it has had two facelifts, with the first around 1995 and the second around 1998.


The exterior of the Mercedes-Benz SL R129

You can find several key differences between the pre-facelift and the facelifted version of the R129.

Colour differences in R129 Mercedes

Most of the first-generation Mercedes-Benz R129 comes with a two-tone paint finish between the metal work and lower cladding. Metalwork comes with a high gloss finish whereas the lower cladding (Sacco panels) is finished in a satin clear coat. For the facelift generation bumpers, Sacco panels are in body colour finish with high gloss together with the metal work.


Mercedes R129 pre-facelift (1st generation) two-tone colour


Mercedes R129 facelift (2nd generation)


Let’s look at some of the differences between the front of the Mercedes R129

“The facelifted version came with xenon headlights as clear front turn signals. The grille comes with six slats as per all facelift models. Compare this with the first generation R129, where the headlights are standard halogens with the classic amber turn signals and the grille featuring seven slats in total.”


Front grille seven slats Mercedes R129 500SL pre-facelift


Headlight amber turn signal Mercedes R129 500SL pre-facelift


Mercedes R129 Front Bumpers Comparison

The first generation pre-facelifted version has more angular bumpers compared to the facelifted version which is more rounded and streamlined at the edges. In the first generation bumper, there is also a different tow hook cover; this part is no longer available in the Mercedes service. That’s why Octoclassic started to produce this part. LINK:


Side of the R129

The first generation R129 comes with three rectangular slats on the side fenders. You can see a plastic body wing panel located inside which is often broken. You can find whole Sacco panels on the aftermarket or buy only the part you need.


Furthermore, the side repeaters are amber in colour. In the facelift, they converted rectangular slats into two rounded vents.

Tip: All the Sacco panels are different for the pre-facelift R129, and the facelift version is wider.

If you are looking for missing side skirts, please note that they are also different so make sure you choose the proper one for your particular R129.


octoclassic-r129-mercedes-benz-SL-octoclassic-blog-pre-facelift-500sl-slats-side-fenders-sacco-panel  octoclassic-r129-mercedes-benz-SL-octoclassic-blog-face-lift-sl500-slats-side-fenders-sacco-panel

Slats side fenders sacco panel Mercedes SL500 facelift and pre-facelift


The rear of the Mercedes SL R129

The first generation comes with the classic corrugated-type tail lights. The facelifted R129 tail lights retain the corrugated style as per the pre-facelift with a slight difference: the turn signal lenses change from amber to a redder colour. Only cars from 1998 onwards had the more streamlined tail lights that we have already discussed. Rear bumpers for the first generation R129 are more angular and plain whereas the facelifted R129 has sleeker and more rounded bumpers on the rear.


Rear bumper teil lights Mercedes pre-facelift 500sl


Infrared Sensor: Where is it?

First-generation Mercedes SL R129: at the bottom of the trunk lock. Second generation MB SL R129: the engineers omitted the infrared sensor at the bottom of the trunk lock and moved the infrared sensor to the rear-view mirror.



Rear-view mirror lights red and green only lower part Mercedes R129 A124


Designation of the Mercedes R129, SL500, or 500SL?

The first generation of the R129 in 1989 had the model designation on the rear: 300 SL, 500 SL. Starting from 1993 and 1994, they were redesigned whereby the models were at the front such as on the SL 500, and SL 320.


Moving on to interior differences between Mercedes-Benz R129 pre-lift and facelift versions,

one of the biggest differences that you will notice is the seat cushion design.


Interior seat cushion Mercedes 500SL pre-facelift

In the pre-facelift version, the seat cushion is simpler with straight lines, whereas in the facelifted version, the seat cushion design has more details and curves. If the seat leather dries out after many years in your classic R129, then you can easily remove them and install them anew which will take up to an hour for your upholsterer, saving you a lot of time and money. Now available here in three colours (black, grey and cream). LINK:


Interior seat cushion Mercedes SL500 facelift


Mercedes R129 Doors

Door cards in the pre-lift version of the R129 had straight lines all across and very angular door cards, whereas they are streamlined in the facelift version. In the pre-facelift version, there is an angular wooden seat switch cover, whereas in the facelift version it is more integrated with the door panels. This comes in two versions, with and without space for buttons. LINK:



Door cards Mercedes 500SL pre-faceliftoctoclassic-r129-mercedes-benz-SL-octoclassic-blog-prelift-500sl-compartment-lid-hinge


Door cards Mercedes 500SL facelift

The next biggest difference is the lid hinge of the door glove compartment which is not too visible until your door panel pockets work correctly.

Glove compartment lid hinge from pre-lift version: LINK:

These are not interchangeable with the facelift generation which looks like: LINK:

Instrument Cluster in Mercedes SL

In the first generation, you can find analog clusters for the trip meter in the odometer as opposed to the digital clusters in the second generation.

Tip: The analog trip meter and odometer frequently break because they are powered by gears at the back. Instead of buying new ones (which is costly), you can easily buy the gears and give your odometer to specialists who can replace the gears to get your analog instrumental cluster working again.


The last difference is the fuse box covers which are located in the trunk of the Mercedes R129 SL.

The first generation has a flat fuse box cover: LINK:,.


Instrumental cluster gears repair kit

Whereas, in the second generation of the R129 the fuse box cover looks like this: LINK:

Photos borrowed from one of our partners who has a great collection of classic cars at


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