MERCEDES-BENZ 190 SL 1955 - 1963
The production version that appeared on the market in 1955 had undergone a
lot of modifications compared to the prototype version. Most of them were changes to the
bodywork to make the 190 SL look more like the 300 SL, such as the added "eyebrows"
over the front and rear wheels. Still, these arches weren't all show, they also caught water that
splashed up from the tires.
Most notable was the fact that the 190 SL wasn't a sports car, it was a real open top tourer, or a Gran Turismo if you prefer. It weighed about 1160 kg and its 1897 cc 4-cylinder engine produced 105 hp @ 5700 rpm, just enough for a top speed of 175 kph. Although the car wasn't slow, its top speed wasn't very remarkable at the time.
Unfortunately a lot of 190 SL cars on the classic car market today lack
originality. Many people think that the 190 SL remained more or less the same during its
production run of 8 years, but this isn't so. Mercedes updated and modified the car
continuously and there are notable differences from model year to model year, albeit
sometimes very small ones. Because the 190 SL was neglected for a long time many of them
are in a deplorable state, but this model is getting more popular now and a large number
of the remaining cars is being restored using parts from various model years.
This makes for so-called "hybrid cars" which show details from different model
years on one car. Unnecessary to say that these hybrids aren't concours
The one on these pictures is however reasonably original and shows all the marks of a 1955 car: tinted Perspex driver side sunblind, no clock or lock on the lid of the glove compartment and the original arrangement of the controls inside the doors.
From the rear this 1955 model shows the original light ornaments next to the number plate. More recent models have the ornaments in the bumper guards. Unfortunately the boot handle is not original: this type of handle was introduced in 1960. The original handle was much smaller. Other aberrations on this car are the incorrect rear reflectors and front turn signal lights. On the 1955 model these signal lights below the head lights were smaller with clear lenses; because these lights were very rust-prone it's hard to find them nowadays.
The roadholding of the 190 SL was praised as being dependable and steady, which was
remarkable because it featured almost the same suspension lay-out as the much criticized
300 SL: independent with A-arms in front and in the rear swing axles with coil springs and
double action shocks. Apparently the reduced engine power made the difference, since the
190 SL had the same wheelbase and about the same weight as the 300 SL.
The floorpan as such was a shortened version of that of the Mercedes 180 sedan, which reduced manufacturing costs. The bodywork was of the self-supporting type and all together this was much easier to produce than the intricate tubular space frame chassis construction of the 300 SL. Still chassis/body rigidity remained acceptable enough for use on the race track.
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