Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster

The Mercedes-Benz 190SL was the vision of Max Hoffman, Mercedes’ representative in the United States. Hoffman understood that while the 300SL Gullwing might certainly catch American buyers’ attention, it had two drawbacks; it was a coupe, and it was very expensive. Knowing that the American market was ideally suited for convertibles, Hoffman pressured Mercedes-Benz management to build a simpler, less costly open model for the U.S. market, and the result was the Mercedes-Benz 190SL.

The 190SL incorporated many advanced engineering features and was powered by a single overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine. Equipped with four-wheel drum brakes, conventional doors and a simple swing axle rear suspension, the 190SL was best suited for stylish cruising rather than performance driving. Max Hoffman’s understanding of the American car market was right on target, and more than 26,000 190SL roadsters were produced between 1955 and 1963.

The 190SL demonstrated the successful niche that existed for Mercedes-Benz in the U.S. and elsewhere – providing comfortable, luxurious cruisers with excellent road manners and stylish good looks. In fact, over its production cycle, the 190 SL began to outsell its “big brother,” the 300SL, by a factor of eight to one.

This car was auctioned off by RM Auctions in January of 2010 at the Arizona Biltmore Resort & Spa, Phoenix, Arizona and in May of 2012 at the Grimaldi Forum, Monaco.

120 bhp, 1,897 cc overhead camshaft inline four-cylinder engine with two Solex carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs, swing axle rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5"

Source: RM Auctions
Photo Credit: Copyright Simon Clay

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