Built as a smaller, cheaper and open-top alternative to the 300SL, the similarly-styled 190 was aimed at the American market for importer Max Hoffman.
The 190 was available either as a R121.040 with a removable hardtop or the R121.042 soft-top convertible, but the bodyshell supported both configurations.
Both the 300SL and 190SL carried the ‘Sport Leicht’ name, but where the 300SL had a lightweight spaceframe design, the 190SL had a regular steel unitary-body construction based on a shortened W121 platform with aluminum hood, doors and trunk lid called the R121 Roadster.
The 190 was powered by a four-cylinder version of the 300SL’s six, but it used twin Twin Solex PHH Carburetors to produce 105 honest horsepower.
Price for the car was DM 16,500/US$ 3,998 or DM 17,650/$ 4,295 with the optional hardtop.
During its particularly long production life from January 1955 to 1963, 48,900 examples were made before the model was replaced outright by the 230SL of 1963.
1962 Mercedes-Benz 190SL 121042-10-024539 – sold for $107,800 Upon purchase by its penultimate owner, a comprehensive restoration was undertaken by the marque experts at The Car Collection in Miami, Florida. Completed in 2012 and acquired by the present owner shortly thereafter, the car has been minimally used and carefully maintained. Auction Source: 2015 Quail Lodge Auction by Bonhams
1957 Mercedes-Benz 190SL 121040.7501727 – sold for $121,000 Wonderfully restored example of the classic 190SL. Retains its original, matching numbers engine. Delivered new to the US with many options. A beautiful Mercedes-Benz for Sunday drives or local Concours. Offered with copy of Mercedes-Benz factory build sheet. Auction Source: 2015 Quail Lodge Auction by Bonhams
Chassis no. 121.042.10.016862
Engine no. 121.921.10.016774
Body no. A121.042.10.00406
Sold for $198,000
120 hp, 1,897 cc OHV inline four-cylinder engine, synchronized four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and wishbones, low-pivot swing-axle rear suspension, and servo-assisted four-wheel drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.
Recent and comprehensive restoration, including photo documentation
Equipped with the rare, optional “kinder” third seat
Complete with tartan-lined fitted luggage, a tool kit, and a set of books
The 300 SL was never intended to be a sports car for the masses or to sell in huge numbers; but it would, no doubt, attract customers into showrooms. Daimler-Benz began development of the 190 SL in 1952, just before the introduction of its volume Pontoon sedans. Like the sedans, it was constructed with a welded frame-floor structure and separate sub-frame. However, it rode a shorter wheelbase, not coincidentally, exactly the same as the 300 SL.
As the company’s first volume sports car, the 190 SL shared the 120-horsepower, 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine and running gear with the W120 model Type 180 Sedan, while also offering styling similar to the legendary 300 SL Gullwing Coupe and Roadster. The resemblance to the 300 SL was certainly intentional. At $3,840 new in 1955, it was half the price of its muscular sibling, which introduced a roadster model of its own starting in 1957. Mercedes-Benz followed the Austin-Healey/Triumph TR-series formula of the era by creating a new car using off-the-shelf components it had available from its other car lines. The 190 SL (for Sport Light) was produced from 1955 through 1963, with Mercedes-Benz building 25,881 units. The factory claimed a top speed of 110 mph, with 0–60 mph times of 13.3 seconds, while also offering up to 26 mpg, the perfect combination for effortless touring.
According to Mercedes-Benz production data, this 190 SL was built in the first half of 1960. It is equipped with the rare, optional “kinder” third seat, designed for occasional use. The consigner proudly boasts that the car was comprehensively restored in 2014, and a book with photos documenting the process was completed at that time. It is offered in a handsome combination of Graffit-Grau (DB190) over a Natur (1068) tan leather interior, with the new interior fitted at the time of restoration. A complete tool kit, full set of books, and tartan-lined fitted luggage to match the interior are included in the sale of the vehicle. Equipped with the proper Solex dual carburetors, the consigner adds that under the hood “the level of care in the restoration is immediately recognizable in the materials and colors used—a trait evident throughout the car.”
This example was delivered new to Mercedes-Benz, New York, USA though its early ownership history is unknown. Resident in the Netherlands, the current vendor bought the car in 2014 from a Mr van der Most, its owner since 2011.
Originally black with red interior, the car has been newly repainted in red and the interior re-trimmed in Cognac/brown leather. Described as in generally very good condition, this beautiful 190 SL roadster is offered with handbooks, tools, Netherlands registration papers and Mercedes-Benz certificate of origin. A detachable hardtop is included in the sale.
1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL 121040.10.9500417 – sold for $132,000 Wonderfully restored example of the classic 190SL. Retains its original, matching numbers engine. Delivered new to the USA and Max Hoffman’s famous import agency. A beautiful Mercedes-Benz for Sunday drives or local Concours. Offered with copies of factory build sheets, books and tools. Auction Source: The Scottsdale Auction 2015 by Bonhams
The car has benefitted from a comprehensive restoration as documented in photos in the folder. The body was stripped and repainted in the Mercedes color grey, coded DB180. The engine compartment and trunk were painted in the original black semi-gloss. The interior received the same level of treatment with a completely renewed leather interior and new grey carpet. All seals have been replaced, as has the trim on the wings, sills and body. The mechanicals were the subject of a complete overhaul: replacement of the rings, head gasket, timing chain, flywheel, seals and membranes of the carburetors (original Solex), gaskets and membrane of the water pump, scaling of the radiators, replacement of the pipes. The ignition system has been completely overhauled, and the electrical system also (bulbs, dynamo, starter motor, wiper motor). The transmission and front suspension were checked and oil seals, wheel bearings, joints and pivots replaced. A new exhaust system, whitewall tires, a clock and a Becker radio complete the restoration.
The 190 SL Roadster offered here is an example of the most iconic of open Mercedes-Benzes. While in previous enthusiast ownership, it was restored in its current light blue with a dark blue leather interior, and it has been fitted with whitewall radial tires, matching wheel covers, and a navy convertible top. Among the Roadster’s many desirable features are a Blaupunkt radio, an original speaker box, and a VDO clock mounted on the glove box door, as well as front and rear over-riders.
No-Expense-Spared Restoration Conducted by 190 SL Services LLC. Spectacular As-Delivered Color Scheme of Elfenbein over Green. Documented Matching- Numbers Example. Best of Show and Gold Award Winner at the 2011 190 SL Group Convention. First in Class at the Mercedes-Benz StarFest
First Junior, Senior, and Grand National AACA Award Winner. Complete with Tool Kit, Manuals, Fitted Luggage, and Hardtop
A Must for the Serious Mercedes-Benz Collector.
In 1955 Mercedes considered a racing version (the 190 SLR) in the spirit of the 300 SL roadster, with aluminium doors and smaller windscreen, before abandoning the project to concentrate on Formula 1.
Our rare, handsome and very sporty Mercedes 190 SL Roadster was constructed in such a spirit. It is of excellent appearance, coloured grey with a red leather interior, and is in perfect working order. Its engine, prepared by SL specialists Atelier SL, has two sets of large Weber 40 carburettors instead of the original, sober Solex carburettors ill-suited to a sporty style of driving. Electronic ignition has been installed, as well as two aluminium foot-rests and a map-reading light. Two profiled head-rests serve as roll bars.