Lot 139

London 2018

1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL


£90,000 - £110,000 GBP | Not Sold

United Kingdom | London, United Kingdom



Chassis No.
Engine No.
Body No.
  • Just three owners from new, with single ownership for over 50 years
  • Beautifully restored to period-correct colour scheme
  • Equipped with the highly desirable optional third seat
  • Extensive restoration documentation and historical paperwork included
Addendum: Please note that contrary to the printed catalogue, this lot does not include a hardtop.

Following the success of the 300 SL Coupé and Roadster, Max Hoffman, Mercedes-Benz’s U.S. importer, suggested that a similarly styled alternative with simpler mechanicals and a lower price tag might be popular. The resulting car was the 190 SL. It featured styling similar to the Gullwing, which many enthusiasts adored but only a select few could afford. Following its debut at the 1954 New York Auto Show, the 190 SL soon proved to be all that Hoffman had envisioned. It remained in strong demand throughout its nine-year production run.

While the 300 SL was powered by a six-cylinder, the 190 SL was powered by a 1.9-liter inline four-cylinder with twin Solex carburettors, and it boasted 120 hp, enough power to reach a top speed of over 105 mph. Unlike the 300 SL, which was born and bred on the race track, the 190 SL was best suited for long-distance touring on public roads, as it is one of the few convertibles which featured copious amounts of luggage space.

The car offered here is a truly exceptional example of the breed. Built in 1955 for the 1956 model year, the second year of 190 SL production, the car was first registered in the U.S. on New Year’s Day in 1956. It is fitted with the highly desirable third seat option and shows features seen on the early 190 SLs, including the simplified dash with no clock. Accompanied by its original service book, owner’s manuals and workshop manual, this 190 SL was delivered new to its first owner, Eugene Ramsey, in Beaver Falls, Pennsylvania, in the western part of the state.

Originally built in Silbergrau Metallic over Blau, it was beautifully restored in a period-correct colour scheme, tasteful ivory over red interior with a black soft top, in 1990. It is important to note that at some point, this 190 SL’s engine has been replaced with a later unit. It has seen properly documented maintenance since, including a suspension rebuild and brake work before being properly stored in a climate-controlled building with a collector also residing in western Pennsylvania. This individual, the car’s second owner, purchased the car a few years after it was sold new to Mr Ramsey, and kept it in his collection for over 50 years.

Purchased by the consignor from that collector in 2015, the car was subsequently imported and registered in the UK in February of 2016. The consignor reports that minimal recent maintenance has been needed and that the car is in fine fettle. Included with the sale is the American certificate of title showing the car’s original owner, a selection of receipts, literature and paperwork for the car. Because it is an early 190 SL from the 1956 model year, it is a possible entrant in the Mille Miglia. Regardless of what the new owner chooses to do with the car, this 190 SL will make a fantastic companion for many years to come.