The Overview

The Mercedes Benz 190SL is today what it was when introduced in 1954 at the New York Motor Show.  A less expensive, more practical, and smaller version of the illustrious 300SL. However, certainly not lacking in any of its big brothers technical refinements, the 190SL offered plenty of capability and race bred technology to those enthusiasts considering a sporting roadster. From its production in 1955 through its replacement with the 230SL in 1963, nearly 26,000 would be produced with only a fraction in existence today.  The 190SL was also the start of the “options list” for Mercedes-Benz. Never before could a car be tailored like a fine suite the way a 190SL could have been. Everything from elaborate color schemes, tops, accessories, seats, and even a very rare sports-racing option was available.  These nimble little two seat roadsters with their iconic, forward styling were the first Mercedes-Benz convertibles to hit home with the US market and started a full fledged frenzy, and one that has yet to end over 58 years later.


The example on offer here, the ex-Don Fraser 1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL has led a life of extreme care and was for many of its years a prized possession having resided in a long time and very well known Mercedes-Benz collection. It’s placement amongst 540K’s, 300SL’s and the like certainly gave it a modest distinction within its stable. However, it remained of the utmost importance in terms of its restoration, care, and enjoyment on the concours circuit. In 1981 it was acquired by Mr. Fraser as a tired but solid driver quality example that was complete but didn’t quite match his standards. It was in 1987 that Mr. Fraser called upon Marque Expert David Payne, owner of Precious Metals Restoration in Grand Rapids, MI to embark on a total nut and bolt restoration to the highest possible standards. Over 100 pages of detailed restoration notes, invoices, time logs, and letters between the owner and shop are present.  It’s not only on paper where this intricate restoration was completed, but the car itself. The quality throughout is simply superb and easily concours quality to this day. A testament to proper craftsmanship and real talent.


Nearly 900 miles have been covered since the cars completion in 1990, during these 23 years the car was well kept in a climate controlled setting with service a top priority, whether necessary or not.  Needless to say this 190SL reflects that of a well restored example, highly correct throughout down to the minutest of items such as correct clamps, stickers, and tires.  The finishes are all correct between the interior, engine bay, exterior and even the underside; applying a mat or glossy finish were correct per factory standards. The beautiful factory color combination of DB353-Light Blue Metallic, with 254-Parchment leather is a seldom seen combination. It presents beautifully, free of any notable flaws. The body is exceptionally straight with excellent panel fitment and great gaps throughout. The front and rear valences and elsewhere on the body are properly thin as correct techniques were utilized during the restoration. The bright work is also excellent, and the interior of the same quality, bright, supple, and without flaws. A nearly new dark blue soft top is stowed for ease of access and is the correct German canvas type top.


Starting this 190SL takes little to no effort. Once warm we see about 30 pounds of oil pressure at idle and nearly 90 pounds under full throttle and higher revs.  It is evident through thorough road testing that this example has received all of the proper rebuilding during the restoration. It pulls strong, shifts easily and firmly with simple clutch operation. All of the accessories are in working order and the brakes are that of a true 900 mile car, practically new.  Overall, mechanically, there is no need for attention, and this can absolutely be described as turnkey.


Furnished with original books, total restoration file, additional history, photos, original spare and jack, this 190SL is complete in every way for the discerning collector looking for a fine addition to his/her collection. It is also the perfect opportunity for any enthusiast who can appreciate these incredible roadsters while they are still reasonably priced. The example on offer here is exemplary of correctness, style, and that of a true investment grade 190SL that could be shown immediately at concours events nation-wide; surely an opportunity worth much consideration and not to be missed.