The Mercedes Benz 190 SL was brought to market as an affordable alternative to the stunningly beautiful 300 SL "Gullwing". Combining the drop-dead good looks with the more liveable mechanics of the W121 range was a marketing masterstroke which gave the 190SL broadly similar visual appeal and respectable performance for a fraction of the cost. The cars were immensely popular and the halo effect of the Gullwing ensured the Stuttgart entry-level sportscar's popularity even until today.
This gorgeous 1960 190SL roadster was originally delivered new in Japan and was part of a prized collection owned by the founder of one of the biggest books and video rental store chain in Japan. Bought in 2014 and imported by a Japanese owner into Hong Kong in 2016, it has seen limited use throughout its life and was the subject of an outstanding ground-up restoration in Japan. While in Hong Kong, it was serviced by Frank Dale & Stepsons Hong Kong. Today, the restoration is still fresh and it is beautifully-presented in highly original shape and drives as well as it looks. The car was further enhanced by the current owner, which includes a full professional detailing inside out, original classic Mercedes Radio installed, as well as a set of beautiful white-wall tires.
Finished in a striking period correct and original shade of “190G” Graphite Grey with Red interior, it is ready for concours or the road. The body exhibits excellent quality paintwork and detailing, with straight, properly aligned panels. Similar attention to detail was paid to the interior, which has been fully restored using correct-type red leather and carpeting. The seats are excellent, showing little in the way of use and remaining taut with supple leather. Details such as factory correct textured transmission covering, glovebox-mounted clock and the original Becker radio are present. Inspired by the 300 SL, the 190 SL features a lot of chrome trim, all of which has been restored and in largely good condition with brilliant shine.
The 1.9 liter overhead cam four-cylinder engine has been overhauled, and importantly, the engine retains the original twin Solex carburetors, which are too often sacrificed for Webers. In addition, the original airbox and air filter housing remain in place. The car starts with ease and idles smooth and quiet, the engine runs well, road manners are very good and it is ready for enjoyment on the road. The 190SL is the perfect blend of style and build quality and this example is probably one of the finest on the market.
Simple yet elegant look, there are few more stylish machines on the streets than this. While the big-brother 300SL may have stolen the headlines in the day, it was the stylish little 190 SL that truly established the template for all futures SL-series cars with its exceptional build quality, relaxed performance and timeless good looks. This car’s high quality restoration has been very well preserved, and it presents in excellent order throughout. Highly optioned, beautifully presented and ready to enjoy to the fullest, this 190SL is an exquisite example of Mercedes’ landmark junior sports car.
Body: 2 Doors Convertible
Exterior: Graphite Grey
Driver's Side: RHD
Indicated Mileage: 38,200 Miles
Location: Hong Kong
Registration: Registered in Hong Kong
History: Originally delivered in Japan in 1960s. Imported to Hong Kong in 2014, registered in 2016. 2 owners since import showing 1 previous owner on Hong Kong VRD. Matching numbers. Fully restored and in highly original condition. Original Hardtop, Spare wheel, jack and tools included.
Fabulously stylish Matching Number Classic Mercedes.
Charming Grey and Red Original Colour Combo
Expertly restored and ready to enjoy
Classic Insider condition score: 93 points out of 100
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MODEL DESCRIPTION AND HISTORY
The 190 SL presented an attractive, more affordable alternative to the exclusive Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, sharing its basic styling, engineering, detailing, and fully independent suspension.
In the 1950s, Mercedes-Benz was quickly establishing itself as a dominant force in the automotive market. Mercedes Grand Prix cars and sports-racing machines were sweeping the racetracks of the world and the sensational 300SL sports car had set the world on fire with its exotic spaceframe chassis, race-bred fuel-injected engine and stunning bodywork. At the opposite end of the spectrum, their famously robust buses, trucks and taxi cabs were filling the streets of Europe – and strong sales were filling the coffers back in Stuttgart. While Mercedes had a fairly well-rounded lineup with everything from small sedans to luxury limousines and a super car, their presence in the US was still somewhat tenuous.
Americans were still hesitant to buy German cars, but Max Hoffman, the chief importer of Mercedes-Benz cars to the all-important US market, knew just how to get buyers to into his showrooms. When Mr. Hoffman suggested a stylish, affordable and reliable sports car based on the standard production W121 sedan at a significantly reduced price compared to the 300SL, the factory was on board. This new car, called “190SL” for its 1.9 liter engine and “Sports Leicht” designation, didn’t share the 300SL’s exotic tubular space frame and fuel injection system, instead using a shortened W121-sedan unibody platform and a twin-carb version of the sedan’s overhead cam four-cylinder engine. It did, however share some of its big brother’s styling cues as well as a similar layout of independent front suspension with a swing axle out back.
With its generous boot, optional removable hard top and easy-going nature, the 190SL was less of a hardcore sports car and more of a fine boulevard cruiser. With the 190SL, Mercedes hit the sweet spot with a comfortable, fun and practical sporty car with a surplus of style. After its unveiling at the New York Auto Show in 1954, Robert Nitske of Speed Age declared it “… a car suited for all purposes, the perfect synthesis of touring and sporting characteristics.” That adage holds true for today’s enthusiasts who admire the 190SL for its versatility, quality, and unmistakable style.
The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL enjoyed an eight year production life with just under 26,000 units being produced. Conceived to give the looks of the 300 SL at a fraction of the cost, the model was hugely successful for Mercedes-Benz and became an iconic and trend setting machine on the world's roads from 1955 onwards.
Both the 190 SL and the 300 SL were replaced by the Mercedes-Benz 230SL in 1963.
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