For those insufficiently wealthy to afford its hyper-expensive, race-bred sports car – the 300SL – Mercedes-Benz offered the less exotic but no less refined 190SL. Announced in 1954 and based on the 180 saloon, whose all-independently-suspended running gear it used, the 190SL 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 carburetors, this M121 power unit produced 105bhp at 5,700rpm, an output sufficient to propel the 190SL to 100km/h in 14.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 171km/h. The fact that the 190’s ride was more boulevard than sporting, and that many contemporary sports cars could outperform it while costing a good deal less, did nothing to deter sales. The model was a big hit in the US, where a good percentage of the slightly fewer than 26,000 produced between 1955 and 1963 found homes.
Completed at the Mercedes-Benz plant in Stuttgart in 1961, this beautifully original example of the elegant 190SL has been in the same ownership for the last 59 years, the car, having always been in southern California was used very regularly up until its import back to Europe last year. Its 31,174 miles are believed to be genuine. The brilliant-white paintwork, as well as the bright work, shows extremely well, and is complemented wonderfully by its blue interior. Most importantly both hard and soft tops are supplied with the car. Complete with the original US title, with EU taxes paid, and UK MoT and having been owned by the last owner for 59 years this beautiful 190SL is a charming and attractive example, ready for its next caretaker.