1959 Mercedes 190SL: Luxury and Style

1959 Mercedes 190SL: Luxury and Style

Engine Inline 4Horsepower 104 BHP (76.544 KW) @ 5700 RPMTorque 105 Ft-Lbs (142 NM) @ 3200 RPM Engine Location Front Drive Type RWD Weight 2510 lbs | 1138.517 kg Transmission 4-speed manual

The Mercedes SL series appeared specifically for stylish and high-speed driving fans. Particularly, the 190SL was a more affordable, but no less stylish alternative to the expensive 300SL. Both of these models were developed primarily for the American market at the initiative of the company’s New York distributor Max Hoffman.

Source: The MB Market

The legendary German automaker introduced the 190SL roadster in the mid-fifties as a more democratic version of the legendary 300SL Gullwing sports car. The visual resemblance to the prototype and similar running gear components were retained, with the new R121 platform and the new M121B 4-cylinder engine. From the very beginning, the model was intended for the American market, thus opening a new tradition of post-war Mercedes-Benz to produce compact roadsters. The press and the public accepted the model with enthusiasm. Moreover,  in terms of demand, it even bypassed the luxurious 300SL  twice. The initiator of the 190SL and 300SL projects was Maximilian (“Maxi”) E. Hoffman, the importer of Mercedes-Benz in the USA, who foresaw a great demand for cars of this type.

The origins

Source: Kazagrandy

The American auto market of the 50s was full of huge and “voracious” cars․ But local importer of European cars Maximilian Hoffmann had a hunch that the market needed elegant and compact roadsters. With these thoughts in mind, he turned to Mercedes with a request to create a compact sports model, and even invested his own money in development, risking his name and finances. Fortunately, the “mischief managed.” The prototype was introduced at the New York Auto Show in 1954,  and the serial version – in 1955, at the Geneva Motor Show. 

The abbreviation SL opened as “Sportlich Leicht” as the roadster weighed little more than a ton, and its swift appearance betrayed a sporty character. The 190th immediately attracted new buyers. It was based on a modified 190 sedan (W121) platform with a 2400 mm wheelbase and equipped with an in-line 4-cylinder SOHC cast iron engine with a volume of 1897 cm3 with two Solex carburetors, developing 105 hp. The suspension was fully independent on springs, with double wishbones at the front and swinging semi-axes at the rear, the brakes were hydraulic drums, and the gearbox was a 4-speed manual, fully synchronized.

The 1959 model year

Source: Wikimedia Commons

The 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL introduced a brand new 1.9-liter, 4-cylinder engine featuring an overhead camshaft, delivering a power output of 105 hp. This engine propelled the car from 0 to 100 km/h in 14.5 seconds, achieving a remarkable top speed of 170 km/h, which was highly impressive for that era. Furthermore, the German-engineered powertrain was known for its reliability and fuel efficiency, with a consumption rate of 8 liters per 100 km, making it suitable for any driver. In addition, this elegant automobile became a favorite of the American bohemia, particularly such legends as Frank Sinatra and Ringo Star. In total, 25,881 people bought this model in eight years of production. However, taking into account inheritance and sales in the secondary market, this tenacious baby had more owners. In 1959, in addition to the convertible, a “coupe” with a removable aluminum hardtop was also available with a wider rear window, which made it possible to significantly improve visibility. The automobile had an aluminum long hood, a trunk lid, a pontoon-type body, horizontal grille with a large three-beam star. The 190SL was a two-seat roadster with the option of a transverse third seat and had conventional doors, unlike the 300SL. It cost 16,500 marks ($3,998) with a soft top and 17,650 marks ($4,295) with a removable hardtop. For racing, the buyer could order a special modification with a small plexiglass windshield, aluminum doors, and a lightweight interior. In any body type, this roadster was one of the most successful creations of Mercedes designers.

Did you know?

Source: Tom Hartley Jnr

Grace Kelly was one of the 190th celebrity owners, who loved to drive it on Monaco roads.

Contact us if you have this or another classic car to sell.

1959 Mercedes 190SL: Luxury and Style

Engine Inline 4Horsepower 104 BHP (76.544 KW) @ 5700 RPMTorque 105 Ft-Lbs (142 NM) @ 3200 RPM Engine Location Front Drive Type RWD Weight 2510 lbs | 1138.517 kg Transmission 4-speed manual

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