history of the 190sl


The Mercedes Benz 190SL was developed as a result of Mercedes wanting to gain sales from the fabulous, though very Mercedes 190sl in the Alpscomplicated, 300SL “Gullwing”. The car was designed from the outset as a two door, two seater convertible (with optional removable hardtop), but one which was clearly related to the 300SL.

The 190SL was first shown to the public at the New York Auto Show of 1954 in prototype form, with the first production cars rolling off the production line in May 1955 and the last in February 1963, after 25,881 examples being produced.

Whilst the 190SL was clearly related to the 300SL in terms of its shape it was far more conventional under the skin. Instead of having a tubular chassis as did the 300SL, it was of monocoque construction based on the floorpan and running gear of the mainstream “Ponton” saloons.

The 190SL was powered by a 4 cylinder, single overhead cam engine that developed some 105hp and was fitted with twin choke Solex carburettors. This choice of powerplant gave the 190SL exactly what Mercedes wanted – a car that looked fantastic yet was not overtly complicated that it required weekly trips to the dealer.

When originally launched, the 190SL could also be had as a sports-racing model with small perspex windscreen and aluminum doors, although there are no known survivors of these.

In testimony to the quality of the original design, very few changes were made throughout the life of the 190SL, the biggest being the enlargement of the hardtop rear window in 1959.

Mercedes chose to replace both the 190SL and 300SL with the W113 230SL in 1963, however, it is interesting to note that Mercedes returned to the idea of a 4 cylinder sportscar with the introduction of the SLK during the 1990s.

Mercedes 190sl classic carAlpine pass with classic 190sl190sl190sl racing at Goodwood revival meeting