1955 Mercedes-Benz 190SL
Price on Application | Location: United Kingdom
MODEL HISTORY & PRODUCTION
In 1954, Mercedes displayed a concept version of the 190SL at the New York Auto show alongside the 300SL ‘Gullwing’. This concept came to market in 1955 as the 190SL.
A more approachable, less intense sports car compared to the record-breaking 300SL Gullwing. While the 190SL featured a carburetted 1.9 litre in-line four cylinder engine compared to the 300SL’s direct-injected 3 litre slant six, they shared basic engine design, suspension system, and level of detail and craftsmanship which defined Mercedes-Benz.
The new engine, which shared the same bore and stroke of the 300SL, was paired with dual Solex carburettors and produced 120 horsepower. This powerplant was mated with a fully synchronized 4-speed transmission which sent power to the rear swing axle. The 190SL implemented the same suspension systems as the 300SL, albeit with a more stable low pivot point assembly, affording it confident handling and drivability without the tail-happy nature of the 300SL Gullwing.
The 190SL is immediately recognisable as a Mercedes-Benz, featuring dramatic curves and restrained use of brightwork that defined this era. Many styling cues are borrowed from the 300SL, notably the massive three-pointed star in the grille, head lamps, bumpers, dash, early 1955 190SL bucket seats and ‘eyebrows’ over the wheels.
While the 190SL did not quite offer the performance of other sports cars of the era, the impeccable quality and attractive styling made the 190SL a massive success – selling 25,881 units before production ceased in 1963. Many of these models were delivered to the United States, where its driving demeanour and elegant styling were highly valued.
Nevertheless, the factory did offer an option for the casual weekend racer: a Rennsport packaged 190SLR, which included options of an aero screen, cut down doors which one could convert, and bumpers removed to reduce weight. A Rennsport derived 190SL participated in the Mille Miglia, hence its eligibility today. Other notable achievements include a 1956 Macao Grand Prix victory for Doug Steane, and Mr W. Sulke’s SLR won the 1958 Rally of Hong Kong.
The 190SL is an important part of the culture of small roadsters in the 1950s, as it demonstrated how luxurious the platform could be. Now much sort after and highly collectable due to its unmistakeable ‘Style and Beauty’.
THIS MOTOR VEHICLE
Original Italian delivery to European specification residing in the dry state of Italy, before finding its way to Switzerland where the current owner imported to the UK, where it’s now registered.
Retains many of the early features of the first production 190SLs and is eligible and well suited for the modern Mille Miglia event which is reserved only for cars that participated in the original, historic race held between 1927 to 1957.
This is a crucial factor for many classic car enthusiasts, as it was recently discovered that a Mercedes-Benz 190SL was privately entered in the 1956 race and thus joins the privileged list of vehicles.
The Mercedes-Benz 190SL was manufactured from 1955 to 1963. This 1955 example is one of the very first produced and has the desirable early specifications like the ‘Gullwing’ type sports seats providing for a firmer and sportier seating position.
A matching engine and chassis numbers 190SL in its original black exterior colour complemented by black mohair hood and cream leather interior. Great basis for a conversion to the optional factory SLR specification to make for a light weight racer with aero screen and cut down doors.
Extensive full restoration work was completed by its current owner retaining as much attention to detail as possible with the use of original parts. The bodyshell was stripped down to bare metal and needed very little work to the outer body panels, a credit to its original state. Running superbly on original Solex carburettors set up by Parry Chana of Lux Classics.
This 190SL comes with extensive history file detailing the restoration, original documentation dating back to 1960s and invoices to the 1970s. A small window hardtop comes complete with all chrome fittings together with a radio delete plate.
This vehicle will represent a good acquisition opportunity for a collector, investor or first time classic car buyer, as being a most desirable model reminiscent of the much valued 300SL Roadster and Gullwing coupe.