Arizona

19-20 January 2017

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Lot 110

1959 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

  • Chassis no. 121.040.10.9502307
  • Engine no. 121.921.20.9502331
  • Body no. A121.040.10.9501157

Sold for $99,000


120 bhp (SAE), 1,897 cc SOHC inline four-cylinder engine with dual Solex carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, front and rear independent coil spring suspension with front control arms and rear swing axles, and four-wheel power-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

  • Very elegant white over black color combination
  • Includes desirable matching hardtop
  • One of the most desirable Mercedes-Benzes today


Following the success of the 300 SL Coupe and Roadster, Mercedes-Benz’s United States importer, Max Hoffman, suggested that a similarly styled, less costly alternative might be successful. The resulting car was the 190 SL, and it featured styling that was derived from the Gullwing, which many an enthusiast adored but only few could afford. The car proved to be popular with the public at the 1954 New York Auto Show, and it remained in strong demand throughout its nine-year production run.

While the performance-driven and expensive 300 SL came out of Mercedes-Benz’s racing department, the 190 SL (internally coded W121) was an open-air boulevard cruiser that had been developed by the passenger car team. It was based on the popular “pontoon”-style sedans, coupes, and cabriolets that were introduced in 1953. The 190 SL made an immediate impression and presented sleeker bodylines that were purposely reminiscent of its senior sibling. It was available as a convertible with a folding soft top or a removable hardtop, or both.

Mercedes-Benz successfully marketed the 190 SL as a grand touring sports car from 1955 to 1963, alongside the 300 SL, and it was the only open SL choice until the Gullwing was replaced by the 300 SL Roadster in 1957. It was solidly built in the Mercedes-Benz tradition, with a flawless finish and exquisite detail, and it found favor among the international elite. Such celebrities as the Aga Khan, Grace Kelly, and Zsa Zsa Gabor owned 190 SLs. In 1955, Road & Track wrote, “The outstanding achievement of the 190 SL is . . . its quality in design and workmanship. But a close second is the general feeling of solidity, which it immediately conveys . . . . We say it’s well worth the money.”

The fact that the 190 SL was both stunning to behold and a good deal more practical for real-world use helped to seal the deal for well-healed buyers. More than 26,000 examples found owners during the 190 SL’s production run from 1955 to 1963, and they are very well regarded to this day.

The car offered here is beautifully finished in white over black, as it was the recipient of a full restoration. Equipped with the desirable Becker High Fidelity radio, Kienzle VDO clock, and the very desirable removable hardtop, it retains its original chassis number tag under the hood. The beautiful chrome wheels, with their distinctive body-color centers, are shod in whitewall tires, an elegant match to the creamy finishes of the body. Chrome throughout is sparkling, and the interior shows only light wear and is still tight and very attractive. The odometer recorded 66,430 miles at the time of cataloguing.

This 190 SL is in excellent condition and would surely attract lots of attention at any Mercedes-Benz club event in the future.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more