The Mercedes 300SL Gullwing coupe was unquestionably among the most remarkable designs of the post WWII era, but its extraordinary complexity and correspondingly phenomenal price both to buy and to run, severely restricted its sales appeal. Add to this the facts that the cabin became close to uninhabitable in hot climates, and the handling in inexperienced hands could be described as challenging, and the car became a very tricky sales proposition , especially in the crucial US market.
The first part of a two-pronged solution was to introduce a convertible version of the 300SL, fractionally slower (for aerodynamic reasons) and with mildly tamed handling.
But the major change was to bring in the 190SL roadster, First shown at the New York Motor Show in 1955, it carried the stunningly handsome lines and unmistakeable styling cues of the 300SL in a delightfully well-balanced two-seat design, on a conventional chassis, and was powered by a smooth two-litre four cylinder engine of proven reliability and more than adequate potency for any normal requirements. The model was an immediate success, and was to stay in production for more than eight years. Like many another open Mercedes it passed from ‘new’, to ‘used’ , to ‘collectable’ status in almost unbroken succession, and has maintained its favoured status among collections of much more expensive classic for the past sixty years.
This example dates from 1960, and is therefore from the late middle period of production, and is equipped with both a rare and very practical factory hardtop, and a folding soft top. It is very evident on examination that it has been the recipient of a great deal of care and benevolent interest all its life, which has been spent in the North-Eastern region of the USA. The coachwork is finished in Ebony black, and is of an appropriately glossy deep shine, and it has plainly been the recipient of expert refurbishment attention at some point in the car’s life.
The car’s chrome brightwork, correct and original, has also been well kept, contributing to the overall pleasingly authentic feel, and, similarly, one of the rarest and most appealing aspects of its appearance is the very fine state of the shut lines, testifying to over half a century’s careful use. The interior leather is in a singularly handsome shade of wine-red, with correct, matching high-quality carpets., Again, it is evident that the interior has been received major attention at some point in the past, and also that the standard of authenticity and craftsmanship was of an uncommonly high standard. When the car came back to Europe, it was also found to possess exceptional driving qualities, and received a considerable amount of detailed servicing attention, including brakes and normal service items, from the highly-regarded London classic specialist engineer Bob Thredder, and a record of what was carried out is retained in the history file; this includes a current MOT certificate, and the car is of course registered at DVLA.
This is a highly desirable example of a remarkable model, with the style and the engineering quality which is as evident now as when the car was introduced to the world, It is sure to provide many years of grace and entertainment, and will grace any collection.