1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL
£135,000 | Location: United Kingdom
THE MERCEDES-BENZ 190SL
In 1954, Mercedes displayed a concept version of the 190SL at the New York Auto show alongside the 300SL ‘Gullwing’. This concept came to market in 1955 as the 190SL.
A more approachable, less intense sports car compared to the record-breaking 300SL Gullwing. While the 190SL featured a carburetted 1.9 litre in-line four cylinder engine compared to the 300SL’s direct-injected 3 litre slant six, they shared basic engine design, suspension system, and level of detail and craftsmanship which defined Mercedes-Benz.
The new engine, which shared the same bore and stroke of the 300SL, was paired with dual Solex carburettors and produced 120 horsepower. This powerplant was mated with a fully synchronized 4-speed transmission which sent power to the rear swing axle. The 190SL implemented the same suspension systems as the 300SL, albeit with a more stable low pivot point assembly, affording it confident handling and drivability without the tail-happy nature of the 300SL Gullwing.
The 190SL is immediately recognisable as a Mercedes-Benz, featuring dramatic curves and restrained use of brightwork that defined this era. Many styling cues are borrowed from the 300SL, notably the massive three-pointed star in the grille, head lamps, bumpers, dash, early 1955 190SL bucket seats and ‘eyebrows’ over the wheels.
While the 190SL did not quite offer the performance of other sports cars of the era, the impeccable quality and attractive styling made the 190SL a massive success – selling 25,881 units before production ceased in 1963. Many of these models were delivered to the United States, where its driving demeanour and elegant styling were highly valued.
Nevertheless, the factory did offer an option for the casual weekend racer: a Rennsport packaged 190SLR, which included options of an aero screen, cut down doors which one could convert, and bumpers removed to reduce weight. A Rennsport derived 190SL participated in the Mille Miglia, hence its eligibility today. Other notable achievements include a 1956 Macao Grand Prix victory for Doug Steane, and Mr W. Sulke’s SLR won the 1958 Rally of Hong Kong.
The 190SL is an important part of the culture of small roadsters in the 1950s, as it demonstrated how luxurious the platform could be. Now much sort after and highly collectable due to its unmistakeable ‘Style and Beauty’.
THIS ACTUAL CAR
This 1958 production retains much of the features of the early 190SLs, with a small window hard top, and some of the desirable late model features. In lovely period Mid-Red – so right in that era of two-seater roadster.
This vehicle still retains its original delivery colour combinations of special order exterior paint, complemented by cream MB-Tex interior, black soft top and black small window hardtop, which provide a lovely period look – perfect for the 190SL, and not often seen.
The first owner, His Grace The Duke of Rutland owned the car from 1958 to 1963, as indicated by the extensive history file with correspondence addressed to his London premises in Belgrave Place. Many years later, The Duke and his Chauffeur were reunited with the vehicle again at Belvoir Castle, where they were able to drive it once more after a lapse of some 25 years.
The second owner, Wilfred Dawes OBE cherished the vehicle from 1963 to 1986, after which it was passed onto his son Dr Peter Dawes, who owned it until 2007. Under their ownership, the vehicle was registered in Denmark, where extensive work was carried out to refresh its paintwork, chromework and retain its excellent mechanical condition.
The fourth owner purchased the vehicle in Denmark from Airtist Erik Peitersen, as a surprise for its fifth owner's 50th Birthday. In her ownership, she had no hesitation in driving and enjoying the 190SL back in the English countryside, where these vehicles are at their best. It then resided in a collection for two years and has now come up for sale, with five previous owners in total.
Now UK registered with its original and first UK registration number. It comes with an extensive history file containing original documentation dating back to 1958 with MOTs, and colour photos of its owners, including outside Belvoir Castle – a must for anyone looking to continue its provenance. In excellent condition with a lovely original patina ready to drive. As I often say, “we can restore a classic car but we cannot restore its history”. Accessories included are a small window hardtop in black, complete with its original hard top sun visors and roadster sun visors, books, manuals and a great provenance.
This Mercedes-Benz 190SL is very unusual, as there are very few unrestored survivors in the market. It will make a great car to drive as is, or as Lux Classics have previously restored numerous 190SLs to concours standard, we would be delighted to assist with its full restoration.