Lot 206

Monterey 2023

1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL


$291,000 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Engine No.
US Title
  • Among the finest 190 SL roadsters in existence
  • Concours-quality, body-off restoration completed in 2018 at an expense of more than $230,000
  • Numbers-matching engine
  • Finished in White Gray (DB 158) over Blue Leather with a dark blue soft-top
  • Multiple awards, including first and second in class at a regional concours
  • Includes copy of original data card, restoration invoices, factory books, and tools

Mercedes-Benz introduced the 190 SL at the New York Auto Show in 1954. It was an instant hit with buyers in the market for a luxurious convertible sports car. A more affordable alternative to the 300 SL, the 190 SL shared similar design cues and engineering advancements but was powered by a four-cylinder instead of a six-cylinder engine and featured traditional unibody construction as opposed to the 300 SL’s racecar-like tubular frame covered in aluminum panels. With an advertised price of $3,998 in 1955 versus $7,463 for the 300 SL, the 190 SL outsold its bigger brother by about eight to one.

The 1956 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL offered here is believed to be one of only 1,849 examples from that model year sold in the United States. A copy of its original data card indicates that it was dispatched on 17 July 1956 and was originally finished in Weissgrau (DB 158), or “white gray,” over a blue MB Tex interior (L1) and featured a dark blue soft-top (896). Said to have spent most of its life on the West Coast, the consignor acquired this 190 SL out of Colorado Springs, Colorado in 2014, intending to commission a sympathetic restoration. Upon further inspection it was determined that a more intensive refurbishment was in order. The consignor then commissioned a full, body-off restoration to the highest possible standard, sparing no expense. The four-year process took marque experts 2,200 hours to complete at a cost of more than $230,000. This included stripping the body, installing new floorboards with factory-correct spot welds, and repainting the car in factory-correct Weissgrau (DB 158). The underbody, interior floors, inner doors, trunk, and all body components were coated with a commercial-grade rust inhibitor. The interior was fully refinished in blue leather imported from Germany and said to match what Mercedes-Benz offered in period; every feature and detail was sorted to look and function as it should, down to the German square-weave carpeting and “kinder” rear seat. The interior was further augmented with blue Mercedes-Benz seatbelts, a removable, custom, center armrest, and tinted sun visors (the refurbished original visors are included in the sale). A new German wire harness was installed, and the suspension was fully rebuilt, including new springs, shocks, and rubber components. The numbers-matching engine was dismantled and rebuilt and the Solex carburetors restored. All glass was polished and brightwork either replaced, refurbished or re-plated, as needed.

Upon completion, replete with period details such as the bumper-mounted Bosch fog lights and BF Goodrich tires, this masterfully restored 190 SL won first place in the German class at the 2018 Park Place Luxury Supercar Showcase in Dallas, Texas and second place in 2019 (where it competed that year in a field of 100 cars, only to be eclipsed by a stunning Mercedes-Benz 500 K).

The odometer having been reset after the restoration and showing only 1,138 miles at cataloguing time, this remarkable 190 SL is now offered with extensive documentation from the restoration, a copy of its original data card, workshop manuals, and factory books and tools, said to be original. It is surely among the finest of its kind in existence.