In today’s market place of $250,000 190SL’s it seems they are becoming out of reach, at least for absolute restored perfection. Their connection with the 300SL is ever more apparent today, more than it ever has been and their styling is being realized as not only beautiful, but well worth the money. As with any classic car there is always a relationship in the market and with enthusiasts for restored cars VS incredible originals that retain the essence of when they were new. There is of course value in both, but for the purest with a defined interest in great original cars, nothing gets better than an example that shows as it did on day one, still retaining its original qualities and having been preserved over time.
The W121 (190SL) when sold new was no doubt more expensive than most cars of its era. Not quite as much as a 300SL or say a Ferrari of the time. None the less, it was an expensive sports luxury car. As the years went on many became used sports luxury cars, languishing on dealer lots, or having passed through many owners over the years. A few paint jobs later, modern additions/replacements to their original factory equipment, driven hard, and then left to languish was consistently the path that was unfortunately taken for many 190SL’s and other cars of the era. As the collector car hobby grew they were once appreciated to a degree, here and there they would be restored, brought back to life, or driven once more in one form or another. There were however caretakers from day one that were in love with these finely crafted, superbly engineered cars that they retained them for a life of care and enthusiastic enjoyment. These cars, or “preservation” cars as we know them are often original paint, sometimes one repaint, and carry everything one seeks in an “original” car. Reflecting the way it truly was from the factory between the original interior, factory coatings, finishes, clamps etc… How a headlamp fit, or a rubber grommet that usually went missing is still in place. Ultimately the true, un-restored, rendition of what the car was originally meant to be in every last detail.
For a 190SL, a car as described above seldom presents itself on the open market to find it’s next understanding and enthusiast custodian. The example on offer here is absolutely a car of this caliber having all the right and original attributes to consider it a car worth preserving and enjoying in its highly original state. Chassis # 12104010025015 is an exceptional example with a great story to tell, and has always been a well cared for prized possession by its estimated 3 owners from new. Thanks to the Mercedes Classic Center we know that this example was delivered exactly as follows per its original Data Card Translation:
190- Paint, Graphite Grey
204- Interior Trim, Red Leather
401- Single seas
441- Bumper with guards, front
491- U.S. Version
515- Becker radio set “Europe” USA
641- White-wall tires
320- Outside rearview mirror, on the left, loose
330- Mode of packing VE IV
318- Stock rim trim rings, delivered separately
Front left axle- 25319
Front right axle- 14214
Rear axle- 017999
Steering box- 25101
Wheel- 5 x 13
Tire- 6,4 x 13
Produced: Late July/ Early August 1962
It presents today, exactly as described by the Mercedes Benz Classic Center, in Graphite Grey with a Red Interior and its original hard top. Some notable features about this example are that it was delivered new with only a Hardtop, and it has the seldom seen optional trim rings on the wheels. A correct and complete soft top was sourced during the second ownership however, and is present with the car and in excellent condition. The significance of this examples highly original condition is only possible through careful ownership, which is mostly known, from new.
Through comprehensive research we have discovered that the car was indeed sold new to a Judis Berchen in CA. It stayed with this first owner for many years and 10’s of thousands of miles. While detailed service history is not available it is evident via the original service booklet that the car was consistently cared for at the selling dealer and other Mercedes-Benz Dealers. The mileage was always logged and the service tickets ripped out with the tabs stamped for a good record of care. It’s last recorded service stamp per the original service booklet was completed at 36,710 miles by Autocourse Inc. in Hayward, CA. Beyond this, Mrs. Berchen kept a record in the back of the service booklet dating the year and miles for services completed. The last service was completed in 7/15 of 1970 at 83,076 miles. We can assume the car was either sold to it’s second CA owner, or, put into storage until about 1980 when the estimated second or third owner purchased the vehicle.
A Mr. Harold Seyferth of Monterey, CA acquired the 190SL as a collector and enthusiast as an addition to his small collection at that time. It was well kept in the hands of Greg Bean’s Automotive in Monterey, CA for many years, and has been reported to have always been an outstanding example according to a recent conversation with the owner of Greg Beans Automotive. Mr. Seyferth was also a very early member of the 190SL Group, and as such he had a focus on preserving the car, driving it, and keeping it as original as possible down to the correct rubber mats. It was however in the mid 1980’s that the decision was made to do a light respray of the original Graphite Grey over the original paint. As such this is indeed a one repaint example and at the time was completed well enough that today it can easily be considered preservation worthy. By 1997, according to service records at this time during Mr. Seyferth’s ownership the mileage showed to be 22,900 miles before it was passed along to its next CA custodian.
A Mr. John Pollock of San Mateo, CA acquired the car from Mr. Seyferth later in 1997 showing 23,499 miles at this time. Receipts are present during the term of his ownership showing consistent use and servicing. During this time the car also relocated to Houston, TX with the owner during a job relocation but was none the less enjoyed and cared for regularly. The last receipt present for this ownership is in October of 2010 showing 30,436 miles for a $1,500 regular service that was completed.
This leaves us with an estimated 3 owners from new, all of which had a sincere interest in preserving this spectacular late variant of the 190SL. It’s chrome and interior have been left as the original as have many of the other components beyond regular consumables. The list of why this car is important is long, and why it should be preserved even longer. There have been minor items here and there such as re-dying of the seats, a 1980’s/1990’s period Bowman radio, and the rear sill being recovered in leather. Otherwise this is a truly a one repaint 190SL in outstanding original colors.
Patina is easily the right word to describe this car from most aspects. The steering wheel, dash, seats, door cards etc… all show consistent wear for a 131,000 mile, well preserved example. Certainly nothing to be altered, simply enjoyed and kept as it is today. All of the glad is the original and is stamped and marked as such. Removing the hub caps shows original grey paint with all wheels matching, showing 6/62 production (Data card shows this to be the production month/year as well), and includes yellow factory markings on each wheel. The interior seat backs show the body number “107” written in chalk on both along with red chalk markings on the fabric. The hinges of the seats are also marked with an “X” in white chalk; truly incredible and highly important marking seldom seen on any car from this period.
The engine bay contains nearly all of its original clamps but a few show to have been replaced as this car was regularly serviced, driven, and enjoyed by its three owners. However, the Solex’s still retain their original serial number tag, and the body number “107” can be found in multiple places, including the hood. Many spot welds are present throughout the engine bay and elsewhere on the car including the trunk area, fenders, and underside. All of which support this as a 100% never rusty, never hit, never abused example still retaining 100% original and laser straight metal throughout with all of its proper factory gaps, coatings, finishes, and presentation. The underside is no exception, here we find additional factory torque and inspection markings done in Yellow throughout the suspension components and elsewhere, truly incredible. The turn signal bezels are numbered and are the originals (reproductions typically do not have numbers). The headlight fitment, grill fitment, tail lights etc… are all tight and seamless as they match up to the body.
These extreme points of originality make this an exceptional example, but not one without flaws. Sometimes highly original can mean no perfect, but the comparative sacrifice is well worth it for the sophisticated collector who can appreciate a highly original example. The chrome is not perfect, nor is the paint and some of the rubber. But it’s all consistent, and more importantly, it’s all real. This 190SL puts forth a truly honest presentation that will not disappoint, especially when driven.
The real experience that easily wraps this car up, beyond its history, completeness and original condition, is simply the way it performs. It starts easily and simply, idles without a hint of an issue while holding great oil pressure and staying cool. It’s hydraulic operations for both the clutch and brakes are superb and the shifting clean and smooth. The steering is tight and the car does everything it should as it did when new; truly genuine and astonishing experience. Everything appears to be in proper working order, well serviced, and totally up to date without any known needs anywhere.
Preservation worthy 190SL’s are a true rarity in today’s market place. The genuine experience of enjoying a real and original car as it was and always has been is a rare and valuable opportunity. Offered with its original spare, jack, tools (50% complete), books, available records, both tops, and a box of 190SL Group newsletters; combined with its highly original presentation as a tour ready and show worthy example make this a very rare opportunity for any Mercedes-Benz collector or connoisseur of original and/or preservation class, investment grade automobiles.
Available Documentation: (Click on the links below to view the file)