In 1954 Mercedes-Benz had introduced the 300 SL sports car, a ‘Gullwing’ coupé inspired by the German manufacturer’s highly successful 300 Super Leicht series of sports-racers that had spearheaded its return to international competition. Expensive and exclusive, the 300 SL caused a sensation and set new standards for high performance sports cars. Introduced at the same time was a cheaper, less exotic but no less refined sports roadster: the 190 SL. 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.
Mounted on a detachable sub-frame together 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, this 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. It was also relatively economical. The 190 SL was more comfortable than the typical British sports car, but the fact that its ride was more boulevard than sporting 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.
Completed in December 1957, this 190 SL is a rare European-delivered example that was sold new to a Mr. Van den Bergh, who reputedly purchased it at the 1958 Brussels Motor Show. Mr. Van den Bergh kept the car for some 50 years, only selling it in 2008 again to a Belgian enthusiast. The next owner, only its second in almost 60 years, had the 190 SL extensively restored, the colour being changed from weißgrau to silver at the same time. In addition, the engine and gearbox were overhauled and the original blue interior completely refurbished. Presented in beautiful condition, this is exceptional 190 SL with wonderful provenance.