The Overview

The Mercedes Benz 190SL was introduced in 1954 at the New York Motor Show as a less expensive, more practical, and smaller version of the illustrious Mercedes Benz 300SL. Not lacking in any of its big brother’s technical refinements, the 190SL offered plenty of capability and race-bred technology to those enthusiasts considering a sporting roadster. From its initial 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, custom suit 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. This nimble two-seat roadster with its iconic, forward styling was the first Mercedes-Benz convertible to truly resonate with the U.S. market and started a full-fledged frenzy, one that has yet to end 58 years later.


The car on offer here, Chassis # 12104010017339 is presented today as an example worth driving. It has received restoration as needed to make it a superb driver, mechanically excellent and easy to enjoy cosmetically. Thanks to The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center we know that this example was delivered exactly as follows per its Data Card:


Chassis number:               121 040 10 017338

Engine number:                121 921 10 017440

Exterior color code:         040 – black

Interior color code:           1068 – natural leather

Transmission number:      017586

Front axle number, l:        17565

Front axle number, r:        17572

Rear axle number:             10058

Steering box number:       17385

Ignition key code:             W 6116

Trunk/glove key code:      KSR 137

Door/tank key code:         TN 070

SA:      1009-121         USA versions

55096              Becker radio with antenna

55087              side view mirror, left

Production:                 May 1960


Exact history is not entirely known on this particular 190SL. Our records only go back to about 2004 when the current owner purchased the car as a gift for his wife. It was acquired through a dealer in Florida who had recently acquired it from a longtime owner of 20+ years in Cincinatti, Ohio. It was purchased in as a cosmetically restored example with recent paint, chrome and interior.  In 2007 the car later moved to Texas where it was looked after by Texas German Automotive. Here the car received regular servicing and updates as needed while being enjoyed. Upon the cars most recent relocation to New York it was regularly entrusted to the services of known marque specialist Rheinland Motors to carry out extensive servicing. Receipts totaling more than $30,000 are present in 2013 for a total engine rebuild carried out by Metric Motors in CA, along with new suspension, steering, cooling, carburetion and the like. A total mechanical restoration was completed to put this example in order as a turn-key example. The idea was always to have something that was nice to look at and performed without fault. As a result the cosmetic condition has room for improvement, but the mechanical aspect of the car is absolutely top shelf.


Cosmetically, the car presents well overall. While not the original color, the current shade of blue is very close to a factory color offered at the time. It is consistent throughout but does show a few chips and dents in one or two places. The paint can be described as driver quality. The bright work appears to be new throughout most of the car and shows brilliantly. The rubber appears to have also been done at the same time and is all newer, supple and without issues. The body is straight down the sides, and the panel fitment is decent to good throughout with some items that would benefit from minor adjustment. In total, the exterior condition is consistently that of a good driver quality car and is about 6 years old; it could be driven and enjoyed as-is.


The interior is much like that of the exterior presentation, it looks great, and works well for the job of a driver. Quite obviously refinished, and done so at the time of the exterior cosmetics the job has held up well and overall is correct, likely ordered from GAHH when completed a few years ago. The refinish included new interior panels, dash recovered, seats recovered, boot cover, carpets and the addition of a stereo system with was integrated into the car without major modification. The presentation is correct overall with correct materials but some of the final finish work lacks the attention it deserves to qualify it as correct and show worthy. The gauges are very nice as are other knobs, pulls, switches etc. Everything appears to be in working order overall; very consistent, nice, and acceptable as a driver quality example. The door jams show nicely as well with the original tag still in the jam, new rubber, and are very clean.


The engine bay, while lacking in quality of presentation and correctness, is very function with all of its necessary elements in working order. It may not be perfect and show quality but it works as if it was. This is the number one place on the car where investment would have serious upside potential in the cars overall value. Considering the mechanical attributes of the car are well tended to, the engine bay reflecting this would put the car at a higher level and would leave the future owner with additional equity. A non-original electric fuel pump has been added for reliability and Weber carburetors fitted for additional performance and ease of use. The original tags are still in place as is the body number with matching number on the hood. We have noted that the front fenders were likely replaced as evident by the leading edge of the fender lip where it meets the engine bay. A very common occurrence on 190SL’s but seldom disclosed or known to most owners.


The underside is consistent with the engine bay overall and shows to be original metal from what we can tell with one small patch present on the passenger side floor. However, the suspension and braking components, along with the exhaust, are all newly restored and totally in order. Additionally, all of these components present as highly correct in a satin black finish. The inner fender wells appear solid, driver quality and the rockers are straight as well. The trunk is another area, much like the engine bay, that with a little attention would pay to put in better order. It is solid throughout and appears to only have some minor surface rust in one of the spare wheel wells, but it is purely surface and not severe in any way.


As we have repeated, this is a driver, with price relative to condition. In a world of $250,000+ 190SL’s, this is an opportunity to have an example that looks nice, runs and drives well; a good car for the enthusiast who intends on driving his investment rather than showing it. Complete with car cover, service manuals, an operating manual and various receipts for work performed this is an example worth much consideration.