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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale January 15th -19th at Russo and Steele’s 14th Annual Scottsdale, Arizona Auction. Please contact us for more information.
Conceived by Max Hoffman, the renowned U.S. Mercedes-Benz importer, and aimed squarely at the crucial American export market, the 190SL debuted at the 1954 New York Auto Show. A more affordable, yet similarly styled open companion model for the complex and costly 300SL “Gullwing” Coupe, the 190SL was equipped with conventional front-opening doors and normal-width sills, providing occupants with greater ease of entry and exit. The “SL” designation, shared with its big brother, roughly translated into English as “sports light” and denoted the lightweight aluminium hood, doors, and rear deck lid of the 190SL.
Fritz Nallinger led mechanical development. Utilizing relatively humble sedan-based mechanical components, the 190SL was in fact a highly competent road car. A 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine provided power and developed 120 robust horsepower with a single overhead camshaft and twin Solex carburetors. Other mechanical highlights included a four-speed manual gearbox, four-wheel power-assisted hydraulic drum brakes, and a fully-independent suspension with wishbones up front and Mercedes’ characteristic swing axles at the rear.
Walter Hacker and his design team executed the bodywork for the 190SL under Mercedes-Benz design Chief Karl Wilfert. Among its members was a young Paul Bracq, who went on to become the Mercedes-Benz head of design, responsible for the 230/250/280 “Pagoda” SL, top-line 600 series, and other models. Bracq also designed France’s famous TGV high-speed passenger trains and penned other landmark designs for BMW, Citroën, and Peugeot during his prolific career.
With its excellent road manners, stylish good looks, and outstanding build quality, the 190SL was an unqualified success. Confirming Max Hoffman’s keen understanding of the American market and its requirements, the 190SL went on to outsell the 300SL by an eye-opening factor of eight to one, with nearly 26,000 examples of the 190SL produced between 1955 and 1963.
This 1959 190 SL Mercedes Convertible benefits from a complete ground-up restoration with the car painted with Mercedes Glasurit black, the underbody painted with a correct Mercedes color, a complete all-new white leather interior, and refinished chrome. With zero rust, the car’s frame was treated internally with POR-15. A complete new wiring harness was installed and the following items are new or have been rebuilt with just 40 miles of break-in use: the engine, transmission, carburetors , differential, driveshaft, brake booster, wiper motor, Becker Mexico radio, speedometer, tachometer, oil gauge, temperature gauge, fuel gauge, radiator, and gas tank. It also has the original Kienzle VDO glovebox clock, and 5 new whitewall tires are fitted. As such, this freshly restored and highly collectible 190SL is ready to go.