‘It proved to be fast and tireless, exhilarating to drive and was probably created with long distance, comfortable travel in mind…’ – The Autocar on the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL, 10th January 1956.
For those insufficiently wealthy to afford its hyper-expensive race-bred sports car – the 300 SL – Mercedes-Benz offered the less exotic but no less refined 190 SL. Announced in 1954 and based on the 180 saloon whose all-independently-suspended running gear it used, the 190 SL did not enter production until January 1955, the delay being caused by alterations aimed at strengthening the saloon’s shortened platform to compensate for the open body’s reduced stiffness. ‘Very few new sports cars have been so eagerly awaited or so long in coming as the moderately priced SL version of the Mercedes-Benz,’ observed Road & Track magazine.
Mounted on a detachable subframe along with the four-speed manual gearbox, front suspension and steering, the power unit was a 1,897cc overhead-camshaft four – the first such engine ever to feature in a Mercedes-Benz. Breathing through twin Solex downdraft carburettors, the M121 unit produced 105bhp at 5,700rpm, an output sufficient to propel the 190 SL to 100km/h in 14.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 171km/h. The fact that the 190 SL’s ride was more boulevard than sporting, and that many contemporary sports cars could out-perform it while costing a good deal less, did nothing to deter sales. The model was a big hit in the USA, where many of the slightly fewer than 26,000 produced between 1955 and 1963 found homes.
Finished in dark blue with matching leather interior and convertible hood, this beautiful 190 SL was subject to a restoration by experts in Milan in 2010. Importantly it is still fitted with the original Solex carburettors. Presented in this most elegant colour combination and described by the owner as in generally excellent condition, the car is offered with Italian registration documents and ASI certificate. The perfect car to enjoy the long summers in the south of France.