Mercedes-Benz 190SL: The 300SL’s Little Brother

The Mercedes-Benz 190SL was described once as a sheep in wolf’s clothing.  And when the wolf is the Mercedes-Benz 300SL then it would have to be a very fast sheep indeed to avoid that moniker.  None the less, the Mercedes-Benz 190SL, which was introduced in 1955 and was made through to 1963, is a car that is now becoming more popular with those who are interested in older Mercedes-Benz cars.

M-B 190SL (1)

Mercedes-Benz 190SL

The Mercedes-Benz 190SL obviously took its styling from the Mercedes-Benz 300SL which was introduced a couple of years earlier, in 1953 or 1954, depending whether you want to count the early appearance of the racing cars or not.  The particular Mercedes-Benz 190SL shown above has a European style license plate, but the front bumper guards on this car are indicative of a car made for the USA market.


It Is Easy To Mistake These Cars For The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Cars

To be fair to these cars, the Mercedes-Benz 190SL was designed to be an enjoyable top-down sporty touring car – not a performance car. And I expect that it is.  The image below shows my friends Gill and Harald von Langsdorff taking part in tour in Germany a few years ago when Harald owned a Mercedes-Benz 190SL.  This car has since been sold.

Gill & Harald (11)

Gill & Harald von Langsdorff In Harald’s 190SL A Few Years Ago In Germany

The re-sale value of the Mercedes-Benz 190SL car has significantly increased  in the last few years.  This is due to the visual similarity between the 190SL and the 300SL cars. As the value of the 300SL cars has reached very high numbers, people have decided that the 190SL is close enough, but is much more affordable.


The Rear End View Reflects Commonly-Used Styling Cues Of The 1950s

The Mercedes-Benz 190SL has an 1,897cc four-cylinder engine with dual Solex carburetors that produces 105 DIN horsepower (120 SAE horsepower).  This engine takes the Mercedes-Benz 190SL from 0 to 60 miles per hour in 13 to 14 seconds and to a top speed of 106 miles per hour.


The 1900cc 4-Cylinder Engine Of The Mercedes-Benz 190SL

For a 1950s engine with carburetors this engine’s plumbing looks a little complicated.  The engine’s horsepower is somewhat similar to that which was available in a MGB or a Triumph TR4.  While I can understand that Mercedes-Benz was not selling the Mercedes-Benz 190Sl as a performance car, I am surprised that Mercedes-Benz did not make sure that the car was clearly faster than some lower priced two-seat sports cars.


The Four Cylinder Engine produced 120 SAE Horsepower

All of the 190SL cars came with a four-speed manual transmission and drums brakes all around.  The due to the slightly high compression ratio, the engine required using higher octane fuel.

Mercedes-Benz 190SL 1957 (7)

The Mercedes-Benz 190SL Provides Top-Down Driving Enjoyment For Two

In the early model years, all of the Mercedes-Benz 190SL cars came as  roadsters with an optional hardtop.  Some listings identify available models that include a 2-door hardtop coupe, but I think that these were just roadsters fitted with the optional hardtop, rather than an integral hardtop.

Mercedes-Benz 190SL 1957 (3)

All Of The Mercedes-Benz 190SL Cars Came With A Floor-Mounted 4-Speed Manual Transmission

In 2014 I had the opportunity to visit the Carl Benz Museum in Ladenburg in Germany.  This museum is located in the original workshop/factory where Benz built his early cars.  In this museum there is a very racy Mercedes-Benz 190SL.


The Carl Benz Museum In Ladenburg, Germany

The Mercedes-Benz 190SL shown below is the car display in the Carl Benz Museum in Ladenburg.  This car is impressive to look at.  It had a very good stance and looks like it would be a blast to drive.


Mercedes-Benz 190SL

While the Mercedes-Benz 300SL cars have a long history of good and significant race results, the Mercedes-Benz 190SL’s race resume is significantly slimmer.  I am aware of a race win during the Nassau Speed Weeks in 1957, but there seems to be a dearth race or rally records for the Mercedes-Benz 190SL, which makes the car in the Carl Benz Museum so intriguing.  I should have asked the folks at the Carl Benz Museum some questions about the history of this car.


Parts Were Removed To Reduce Weight Of This Car

Over the full model run from 1955 to 1963 Mercedes-Benz sold 25,881 190SL cars.  In 1956 the Port-of Entry price was $3,998.  The 300SL roadster in 1958 had a price of $10,928.  It should also be noted that in 1956 a Jaguar XK140 convertible had a Port-of-Entry cost of $3,995.  The Jaguar’s performance with its 190 horsepower was vastly greater than the Mercedes-Benz 190SL for essentially the same price.

I like these cars and they are certainly getting interest in collector car market.

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