1,000-Mile Theft Recovery: 1992 Mercedes 500SL

Sure, we get to see super low mileage survivors on occasion, no doubt helped by a fanatical owner who kept the miles low and the car isolated in a garage. But occasionally, a survivor pops up that didn’t live such a boring existence, like this 1991 Mercedes-Benz 500SL with just 1,186 miles on the clock. It turns out the 500SL was stolen when new and just recently emerged after it was recovered by an insurance company in late 2018. Find the original story here on the MBWorld forums; you can also check out the auction listing here on Copart.

Thanks to Barn Finds reader Steven for this unusual find. The premise of a car being stolen right off the showroom floor never to be seen again has been immortalized in films like Gone in 60 Seconds, but i’m guessing it’s harder to pull of than it looks. And how you go about owning the car since you can never legally register it leaves all sorts of questions, too, and I wonder if it was sold to a hapless owner who had no idea he was buying stolen goods.

The car, as you might expect, is mint. The 500SL was one of the top models of the R129 range, slotting in just below the top-shelf V12 models. Frankly, given most V12s are a bear to maintain and Mercedes makes wonderful V8s, I’d take a 500SL day of the week. These were powerful machines that could rip off impressive 0-60 times, no doubt helpful when fleeing the long arm of the law.

While the colors aren’t the preferred choice on a general basis, you can’t be too choosy if demanding an R129 with delivery miles on it. I’m sure someone knew of this car’s existence and had to have followed its path from being a closely-guarded theft victim to loaded on a transporter and dumped off at a Copart auction. We can’t see the selling price due to the auction having ended, but given how many R129s are on Copart on a daily basis, someone may have walked off with quite a deal.


  1. Superdessucke

    I generally like these but that color combo. Ooof! Did anyone consider the possibility that the dealer simply left the keys in the ignition, and possibly a sign saying “steal me,” after it sat on the lot for nine months?

    Regardless fascinating find.

    Like 11
    • Richard

      Do you prefer todays color selection of funeral colors? Gray, black, white, silver – and every other color that looks like asphalt – THOSE colors make me puke – this Mercedes, although not a great color looks better than any new car I’ve seen.

      Like 16
  2. Chinga Trailer

    Would this have been sold with a salvage title, even if undamaged, due to the theft? Years ago, pre-CarFax, I bought a Ferrari with a California salvage title, due, the selling dealer said, to the fact it was a recovered theft. I could find no evidence of damage or repairs and when I registered it in Oregon, I was issued a new clean title! Car doubled in value “instantly!”

    Like 8
  3. Steve

    I don’t follow the logic of the new buyer “buying a stolen car”. I am sure if Copart has it in it’s possession, it has paperwork indicating that it is a theft recovery. They are a (somewhat) reputable company (at least when it comes to blatant possession of stolen vehicles) and a branded title would be attached to this vehicle, just like any other wrecked vehicle that was “totalled” or theft recovery.

    Like 3
  4. peter r

    I just bought a 99 with 61k miles on it – I have two 560SLs but want power seats and top – getting too old now for raisng the top by hand. These have a great reputation. I’m not sure why this one is featured given it is sold and we can’t see the selling price.

    Like 2
  5. Mountainwoodie

    Very inadequate reporting in the original story. But interesting nonetheless. Leaves all the questions unanswered.

    Like 3
  6. healeydays

    Doesn’t really matter, as it’s already gone and sold…

    Like 4
  7. mike

    when i worked at a Toyota dealership as a teenager we had a few cars that were recovered 6 or 7 years after the fact and one of them included a 1981 toyota celica liftback that had sat in an underground garage for the whole time. Our secretary bought the car (heavily discounted). I remember washing it up for her and marvelling at the fact that it only had 3700 kms in 1988. There was also a corolla wagon that had 140 kms on it that sold the day it came in. Believe it or not it was a ring of police men that had stolen the cars as well as a laundry list of other things. Back in the olden days before everything was logged into computers

    Like 7
  8. Ron Bajorek

    I’d have the bottom panels painted to match the rest of it

    Like 1
    • Mark-A

      I’m unsure if I’d do that or not, but if you own it that’s a choice for you to make, personally I really like the two tone look, or is there a possibility that the darker coloured parts are possibly a protective type of coating? Wondering this as my Dad had a 1989 Ford Sierra 1.8LX (I’m a UK resident born & bred) that had a protective coating below the trim line which had a red band that lined up with the same thing on both bumpers)

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