Quickly realizing the success of the 300SL could be broadened, in 1955 Mercedes-Benz took the 300s delicious recipe and diluted it just the proper amount to create the 190SL. The 300SL (a homologation and homage to the contemporary race car champions) was a tubular framed, luxurious grand tourer that each had an inline-six motor tested for 24 hours straight. So while the components of the 300SL made for an unforgettable experience, the cost of each was exorbitant and well out of reach for all but the wealthiest few in the fabulous fifties. As the demand for the 300SL skyrocketed, Mercedes landed up on the easy decision of making a “nearly” 300SL counterpart.
The sleek styling queues and exterior trim were kept and inside the trimming and some of the luxury equipment transferred over from the 300SL to the new 190SL. The suspension (a hallmark of the 300SL) with its forward double wishbone control arms and rear swing arms was carried over to the 190SL making for a spirited handler. The most significant difference was the 190SLs motor. An inline-four with 1.9-liters of displacement, a single overhead camshaft (SOHC), and side-draft carburetors meant it was lighter than the 300SL but also produced less power (around 120 horsepower). Truthfully though, it was and is an adequate amount for a convertible that had a curb weight in the neighborhood of 2,500 pounds.
Beginning today, our model for sale is a prime example of the 1958 model year. This 190 was refurbished during a restoration before the current owner took delivery eight years ago. Original to the car is the motor, although the paint and interior have been altered. The engine has at least 91,000 miles registered, but the actual mileage may well exceed that as the five-digit odometer does not display a hundred thousand numeral. The two Weber side-draft carburetors were just adjusted and tuned for sale, and the fluids have also been changed in preparation of the auction. The original four-speed manual transmission transfers power to the rear wheels and feels nicely slotted and composed. The current owner has in his possession some of the service records that will be provided with the sale.
During the rehabilitation, the original color, Silver Gray, was repainted another 1958 190SL color, Fire Engine Red. The color was correctly carried over to the dashboard, and the 13” pressed steel wheels (with Cooper whitewall tires) were also painted to match. The seller notes that there are some blemishes in the final finish. Also, color matched is a newish removable large-window hardtop that sits overtop the original off-white convertible top. At the time of the restoration, the chassis identification tag was removed and is no longer present. Included with the sale, though, is a copy of the original vehicle information sheet that provides an engine number matching that of the 1.9-liter installed.
Inside, the original red leather interior has been removed and replaced with tan leather hides. The Bakelite steering wheel, gear lever, and tan square-weave carpeting are all fresh from the restoration. All of the instrument illuminations operates as intended and the radio turns on. However, the clock seems to not function despite making noise. Inside of the trunk compartment is a spare tire secured next to a protective rubber luggage floor mat.
If you’re interested in the 300SL experience, but do not want the full million dollar buy-in, then this is the real deal. The aesthetics and driving feel are as pure fifties as you can get. When you have the top down this little red convertible will keep the attention of any passers-by. Bidding has now begun, and we expect this drop-top dream to go quick!