The R129 Mercedes is a curious thing. Eye-wateringly expensive new, the R129 was an enormous leap ahead of the car it replaced, the 18 year old W107. Mercedes produced the R129 for an even longer 20 years, face-lifting it subtely along the way. All of which tells you that this Bruno-Sacco designed Merc was built for longevity. Safety has always been at the heart of Mercedes convertible appeal and the R129 was all about safety. This particular fresh-faced petrolhead was at the UK launch in 1989 and was lucky enough to enjoy regular fast drives in one of the first 500SL on UK roads. The thing just felt absolutely solid and with the automatically activated rollbar, was light years away from anything else on the market at the time. The engine is puppy-ear smooth and reasurringly discreet - up to a point. Hit the bottom three-quarters of travel and there is noticeable resistence in the accelerator pedal which to the virgin pilot feels like you've hit the carpet...yet push on another few centimeters and you'll see why the bigger engined V8 and V12 Mercs are so much fun. The autobox drops down, the rear squats and the whole just takes off down the road in a hilarious surge of torque all while enjoying the Archers on Radio 4. The original 5.0L V8 500SL with 332bhp and 332lb/ft and orange indicators is the purest of the line and undoubtedly the one to go for as an investment. As always, buy the best you can afford, but low mileage may bely a car that has had little use. Find one that has been used sparingly but routinely with an excellent service history and keep up with the bills to future-proof your investment. And why so curious? - Well a cared for R129 can say so many things - from South Shields to South of France. With Summer just around the corner a well bought 500SL could be the perfect summer runner. Eclectic elegance.