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Vehicle to be offered for Auction sale August 14th – 16th, 2014 at Russo and Steele’s 14th Annual Monterey California Auction. Please contact us for more information.
Introduced as a prototype at the 1954 New York International Motor Sport Show, the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was the inspired brainchild of famed US importer Max Hoffman as a similarly styled yet less complex and expensive companion to the 300SL. The “SL” (Sports Leichtbau = Sports Lightweight) label denoted a sporting character and the use of lightweight aluminum for the hood, doors, and rear deck lid. Rigid monocoque body construction, wind-down windows, and an available aluminum hard top were other 190SL virtues.
Fritz Nallinger led the mechanical development of the 190 SL. Using proven components from the “Ponton” line, the 190SL was powered by a SOHC 1.9-liter four-cylinder engine with twin Solex carburetors producing a solid 105-horsepower output. Other components included a four-speed manual gearbox and four-wheel, power-assisted “Alfin” drum brakes. Full-independent suspension included front wishbones and coil springs with swing axles and a compensator spring at the rear. Performance was quite good, with acceleration from rest to 60 mph in 13 seconds and top speeds approaching 110 mph.
Walter Hacker and his design team executed the handsome bodywork for the 190 SL under Mercedes-Benz design Chief Karl Wilfert. Designated W121, the production 190 SL debuted at the 1955 Geneva Motor Show and customer deliveries soon followed, marking an unqualified hit from introduction. Concours awards quickly followed in Holland, Switzerland, and at France’s Grand Prix d’Elegance. While intended as a stylish Grand Tourer without racing pretensions, the 190 SL was nonetheless effective, winning races in such exotic locales as Macao and Casablanca. Outselling its 300 SL “big brother” by a factor of eight to one, the success of the 190 SL influenced Mercedes’ single-platform sports car policy that continues today.
Long the favorite of the era’s “A-List” celebrity icons including Grace Kelly, Gina Lollobrigida, Ingrid Bergman, and Yul Brynner, the 190 SL’s more recent famous devotees have included former Beatle Ringo Starr and Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow. With its unmatched open-air experience and design cues shared with the 300 SL, the 190 SL conjures romantic visions with every drive, whether cruising the Riviera or winding along the Pacific Coast Highway.
Continuing to benefit from an older complete restoration to factory specifications and handsomely presented throughout, this 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster is particularly engaging with its distinctive exterior paint finish complemented by a striking Beige-trimmed cockpit. It was imported to the USA from Luxembourg during the mid-1970s and acquired by a long-term owner in 1987, under whom the restoration was completed in the 1990s by Pebble Beach regular Lon Kruger of Sun Valley Classics. Complete with registration, title, service, and restoration records, this 190 SL marks an ideal choice as a fast-rising and highly collectible classic roadster delivering iconic style, ease of maintenance and operation, and undeniable European panache.