Amelia Island

The Ritz-Carlton
14 March 2015
Lot 201

1957 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

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$209,000 USD | Sold

United States | Amelia Island, Florida

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Chassis No.
121.040.7503335
Engine No.
121.921.7503378
Body No.
A 121.040.7501482
  • Fresh, comprehensive, expert restoration; impressive from top to bottom
  • Complete with new soft-top and restored hardtop
  • Refinished in its original color combination
  • Includes owner’s manual and radio manual for the original unit, as well as the antenna
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105 hp, 1,897 cc OHV inline four-cylinder engine with two Solex 44 PHH carburetors, four-speed fully synchronized manual transmission, independent front suspension with coil springs and wishbones, rear single-joint, swing-pivot axle with coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 94.5 in.

Addendum: Please note that this lot is titled as a 1958.

While the performance-driven and expensive 300 SL Coupe 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 body lines that were purposely reminiscent of its senior sibling, the 300 SL. It was available only 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.”

This strikingly handsome 190 SL was delivered new from Stuttgart to Los Angeles in 1957. It remained a California car, as the consignor acquired it in Beverly Hills for restoration and then shipped it to internationally recognized Mercedes-Benz specialists at SSR Restorations in Vale de Cambra, Portugal, where expert craftsmen undertook a meticulous, all-inclusive, body-off restoration.

The 190 SL’s engine and mechanicals, including the suspension, differential, and brakes, have been rebuilt to correct Mercedes-Benz specifications. The car was outfitted with B.F. Goodrich tires, including its spare, and it has been repainted by Mercedes-Benz Portugal in its original Graphite Gray, to go with its lipstick red interior, which is a classic and popular color combination. A new light-grey soft-top and restored hardtop (finished in the original M-B Red Fire) complete the distinctive color scheme, while gleaming chrome trim adds stylish accents. The sophisticated interior features luxurious leather, and the dashboard displays the original instrumentation, including its Becker Europa tube radio and working clock. Attesting to the thoroughness of its restoration is the spotless undercarriage, which has been detailed to match what is more obviously apparent. Comprehensive photo documentation of the restoration accompanies the car.

Over the years, the charismatic Mercedes-Benz 190 SL has stepped out of the 300 SL’s shadow and found its own spotlight. This elegant example was completed to a meticulous standard in 2014, with only test miles on its fresh engine and restoration. As a matching-numbers example that has been liveried and accessorized authentically, as per the included copy of its factory data card, it epitomizes the quality and style of Mercedes-Benz cars of the era.