Following the success of the 300 SL Coupe and Roadster, Mercedes-Benz’s United States importer, Max Hoffman, suggested that a similarly styled, less costly alternative might be successful. The resulting 190 SL proved popular with the public at the 1954 New York Auto Show, and it remained in strong demand throughout its nine-year production run. The 190 SL was well-suited for touring, as it featured copious amounts of luggage space despite having a convertible top. The model has continued to impress discerning collectors.
Originally delivered new to an individual in Germany, the example offered here was completed in June 1955, making it one of the earliest 190 SLs to leave the factory. Although it began life in standard specification, it now features a variety of components consistent with the race-specification kit available in-period. This includes the hood with scoop, cut-down doors, and the removal of the hefty bumpers. While this project began under a previous owner, Mercedes-Benz Classic Center acquired the vehicle in 2007 to further complete upgrades. Under their care, the roadster received a cut-down windscreen and the interior was retrimmed. It is now finished in an attractive combination of Crème leather and 300 SL red tartan gabardine cloth. In addition, the engine compartment was restored to period-correct finish and function.
The summation of the various changes makes for a unique experience: The dashboard is devoid of any ventilation controls or radio. Instead, the driver is treated to a set of clear, functional gauges and a Halda Speedpilot rally computer. Meanwhile, the cut windscreen and lightweight doors further add to the authentic competition driving experience.
Under current ownership, this Mercedes-Benz has been part of a private collection stored in a climate-controlled facility. An onsite technician provided maintenance at regular intervals and within the last 50 miles the car received fresh fluids and necessary service.
Perfect for vintage track days, road rallies, or concours, this 190 SLR is a truly exceptional build of the iconic roadster.