19-20 January 2017
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
- 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.
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