Displacement: 1,897 cc
Horsepower: 120 bhp @ 5,700 rpm
Engine Torque: 114 ft lb @ 3,800 rpm
Top Speed: 110 mph
0 - 60 mph: 11.4 seconds
click on image to enlarge
If it is true, as is so often said, that the 190 SL is a poor man’s 300 SL, then I know a lot of poor millionaires. For a substantial number of my car collector friends, number one of these in their collections. Now granted, a lot have a 300 SL as well, but they choose to have a 190 additionally, on its own merits, because they are an exceptional car in their own right.
Debuted at the 1954 New York Auto Show, the 190SL was an instant success and almost stole the show from the 300 SL, such was the clamour it caused. It was built to fill the void in the new, post-war Mercedes line up for an ‘inexpensive’ sports car. Now, also granted, it was neither inexpensive (starting at $4,000, it was already twice the price of an MG or Triumph) nor a true sports car (more of a ‘grand tourer’) but it was half the cost of its truly sporting big brother, the 300 SL, featured gorgeous styling that echoed its brother’s fabled lines and was similarly equipped with four wheel independent suspension.
This pretty example was delivered new to the States in 1961 and spent most of its life in California, having but one owner from 1980 until 2008. Finished in Ivory with red leather, it is remarkably handsome both with its black canvas soft top or its matching factory hard top. The wind-up clock is still in the dash, as is its Becker Europa radio. The body appears extremely straight & rust-free and the underside is similarly clean.
On the road, it performs well, shifting cleanly through all the gears, whilst the original Solex side-draught twin-chokes feed the sweet-running, over-square, four-cylinder engine.
So, in summation, they are an exquisitely beautiful, great driving classic that can easily hold their own without needing to bathe in the reflected glory of their more illustrious sibling. Having loved these cars since boyhood (one of my parents friends bought one new in ’63), I can easily understand why so many wealthy collectors are happily prepared to endure the ‘poor man’ stigma!