The 190 SL, Daimler-Benz’s first volume sports car, known internally as the W121, used a shortened version of the W120 platform and topped it with the unique roadster body. It shared the 180’s 120-bhp, 1.9-liter, four-cylinder engine and all-independent coil-spring suspension, including the swing axles, which provided considerable flexibility during aggressive cornering. The 190 SL was produced from 1955 to 1963, and Mercedes-Benz built a total of 25,881 units over the production run. The car was marketed as more of a comfortable cruiser than the powerful 300 SL sports car, and its performance was quite capable for the era, with a top speed of 110 mph and 0–60 mph times of 13.3 seconds, all the while affording upwards of 26 miles to each gallon.
Styling was intentionally similar to its bigger 300 SL sibling, with the most notable features being the rounded overall lines, low nose, and wide grille with the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed star, causing no one to mistake this for any other vehicle. Luggage space was provided by a comparatively large trunk and a roomy interior, which befits the sports tourer yet preserves its practical status in the Mercedes-Benz hierarchy. At $3,840 when new, it was half the price of its muscular brother, which had introduced a roadster model of its own in 1957.
This lovely first-series Mercedes-Benz 190 SL is the beneficiary of a comprehensive and documented concours restoration that was completed in Europe. A binder of photos (before and after restoration), receipts, and related information are available for inspection, along with a copy of the original data card from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, which verifies the car’s original equipment, numbers, and colors. The engine was also fully restored and rebuilt using original German parts. In addition, a complete set of tools, owner’s manual, and beautiful fitted leather luggage are included.
This example, painted a factory-correct Medium Blue (DB350) with a black cabriolet roof and an Aero Gray (1140) interior, makes for what is arguably one of the most handsome combinations offered on the jaunty 190 SL. Outside, the car is equipped with wide whitewall tires that perfectly accent the period-correct color combination. Inside, the driver is greeted by crisp, clear gauges and Mercedes-Benz’s characteristic ivory steering wheel and shifter, which is mated to the four-speed manual transmission. It is equipped with the appropriate Blaupunkt factory radio, and the leather interior has been beautifully and expertly crafted by Sig Vigilia.
This 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster was fully serviced in the spring of 2018 and is ready to be enjoyed on the road. It has never been shown, providing its new owner with a superb opportunity to participate in Mercedes-Benz club events, concours, and rallies.