1997 Mercedes SL500 La Costa Edition – Just 30 Examples Produced
More than 200,000 R129 series SLs were produced between 1989 and 2002. In this modern era of huge production numbers only a few cars have potential for becoming future collectibles. When it comes to the R129 series SL, one of the rarest variants, and therefore one of the cars with the most potential for future collectibility, is the 1997 SL500 La Costa Edition.
Mercedes-Benz produced just 30 La Costa Edition cars for the 1997 model year to commemorate their sponsorship of the PGA Mercedes Championships golf tournament at the La Costa Resort and Spa in Carlsbad, CA held January 6-10, 1997.
All 30 cars were painted Calypso Green (color code 279 – called ‘Vivianitgruen’ in German) and had two tone interiors of Calypso Green and Black leather. During my visit to Scottsdale, Arizona for ‘auction week’ this year I attended the Mercedes-Benz Club of America Desert Stars Section dinner and car show. That’s where I ran into R129 aficionado and owner of no less than 10% of total “La Costa Edition” production, three cars, Walt Anderson, where he was showing one of his La Costa Edition SL 500s.
MBCA Member Walt Anderson – Keeper of the La Costa Edition Flame
Walt has researched the 1997 La Costa Edition cars at great length and keeps track of as many as he can at any given time as they come and go from the market. He was kind enough to share much of the information he has about these cars with Mercedes-Market, they are the sources we used for this article.
According to the press release from Mercedes-Benz USA announcing this special edition in January 1997, 25 Mercedes-Benz dealerships in the Southern California sales region were each allocated one La Costa Edition to sell. The remaining five were used for promotional purposes. One of those was given away to the public in a drawing organized by Mercedes-Benz, another was donated to a local charity, “Divine Design for their Fantasy Auction,” while the last three were retailed after being used for additional promotional purposes. Walt believes these last three were used and shown at the PGA tournament at La Costa before being sold through Mercedes dealerships.
The 1997 SL500 LA Costa Edition Package Contents
The La Costa Edition included the following items:
- Calypso Green Metallic paint* (paint code 261 on the car’s data tag)
- Two tone leather interior (Calypso Green and Black)
- Eucalyptus wood trim
- Custom floor mats
- Special La Costa badging and shift knob insert
- Sport Package (the AMG body styling package, sport suspension w/ 18” AMG wheels)
Also included with each car was a La Costa box set which included an embroidered car cover, embossed leather portfolio (to hold the car’s books and manuals), key fob, license plate and a certificate of authenticity. The cost of the La Costa package as it appeared on original window stickers was $5,000.
The only differentiation among individual examples, seems to be ‘xenon’ headlamps, half of La Costa Edition cars were equipped with them, the other half without.
Specific Peculiarities Among the La Costa Edition Cars
Walt believes that one of the three La Costa Edition cars he owns is one of the three that were used for promotional purposes at the golf tournament and later sold through the Mercedes dealer network. He noticed that the car in the press photos and posters provided to the Mercedes dealers who received a La Costa allocation showing the car parked on the fairway at the La Costs golf course had a standard ‘Sport’ badge affixed to the front fenders, not a “La Costa Edition” badge. This is a detail only recognized after inspecting the press photos with a magnifying glass. Walt says that “in the posters at the dealers you can see it [the ‘Sport’ badge] without a magnifying glass.”
One of Walt’s three cars “doesn’t have the La Costa badge on the fenders. It has the standard badge that says SPORT.” Through additional research Walt learned that particular car “had its dealer prep 2 months before the tournament” and was sold as a demo model, with miles on its odometer 7 months after the tournament. Backing up his theory, Walt goes on to explain that “it was sold by a dealer near San Francisco and the northern CA zone was not supposed to get any of those cars.”
The 1997 SL500 La Costa Edition as a Future Collectible
Looking into the future of collectible Mercedes-Benz SLs, it will be cars like these that rise to the top of the collectability scale of mass produced cars. There is so little to differentiate one R129 from another, condition, miles and color will be the big factors. Additionally, special editions like the 1997 40th Anniversary SL 320 or SL 500, the 2002 Silver Arrow Edition or the rarer still “La Costa Edition,” will mean further differentiate from other R129 SLs and the best possibility for future collectability and price appreciation. More photos of the 1997 SL500 La Costa Edition R129 below.