MERCEDES-BENZ 190 SL 1955 - 1963
the second World War Mercedes put a lot of effort in reestablishing its sporting
image. Mercedes racing cars took part in Grand Prix, sports car and road race
events and were often successful. The 190 SL wasn't really designed to be a
sports car, but still the company wanted to offer customers the possibility to
race their 190 SL in competition.
That's why the 190 SL was not only available as roadster and coupé, there was also a "Rennsport" (or "Tourensport") version. The factory didn't deliver the 190 SL in Rennsport trim. The Rennsport modifications came as a separate, optional kit which could be fitted on the 190 SL roadster by the customer.
Rennsport or racing kit included special aluminum doors without windows and door
handles, a small plexiglass windscreen and a lightweight bonnet with extra
air-intake. Mercedes advised the Rennsport customers to also remove the front-
and rear bumpers, the hood and other unnecessary trim items to reduce weight.
Also some engine modifications were available.
A 190 SL fitted with the complete racing kit and without redundant trim weighed about 1060 kg, had some 140 hp at its disposal and was capable of a maximum speed exceeding 200 kph.
The Rennsport kit appeared on the options list from the moment the 190 SL became available in 1955, but wasn't very popular. By 1956 it had vanished from the Mercedes catalogue and it's estimated that no more than a dozen kits were ordered.
A problem for racing the 190 SL Rennsport was that it wasn't homologated by the FIA (the international autosport authorities) for the GT class. Instead it had to compete in the production sports car class, where it didn't stand a chance against the far more powerful opposition. Mercedes entered some fuel-injected 190 SL Rennsport cars in the 1955 Mille Miglia and it also scored some class wins at the 1956 Macao Grand Prix and Casablanca Grand Prix. In 1958 a 190 SL Rennsport scored an overall victory in the Hong Kong rally.
A rare and special car also, this 1955 Mercedes 190 SL
Rennsport. Unfortunately the car shown here is not completely original, judging
by the more recent orange front indicator lights and the glass windscreen. There are a number of 190 SL
cars around fitted with imitation, non-factory Rennsport kits; let's hope this
is not one of them.
how the 190 SL Rennsport is supposed to look according to the Mercedes-Benz
museum in Stuttgart. It has the original small plexiglass windscreen, a
different spoiler-like cover over the compartment which normally fits the folded
down convertible top, an additional roll-over bar and a bonnet without the extra
air-intake. Also the wing mirrors of the 300 SL are fitted and a tonneau-cover
over the passengers compartment has been installed.
Since the Rennsport version of the 190 SL was delivered as a kit it's hard to tell what is correct and what not. It was up to the owner what to fit, to add or to remove so probably no two Rennsport cars are alike. This car does show the proper clear front indicator lights.
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