SOLD 08/23

1959 Mercedes-Benz
190SL Roadster

Comprehensively restored and offered with hard top. Many exacting details not found on other examples.

  • VIN190SL0501297
  • Exterior ColorRed
  • Interior ColorBlack leather
  • Mileage69742 Miles (TMU)
  • Engine1.9L inline 4-cylinder
  • Transmission4-speed manual
  • StatusSold
  • StockFJ2777


1959 Mercedes Benz 190SL

Chassis No. – 121042-10-9501297
Engine No. – 121.921.10-016387
Exterior Color – Red
Interior Color – Black with Black canvas top and Red Hardtop
Engine – 1.9 Liter Inline-Four-cylinder SOHC
Transmission – 4-speed manual
Current Miles – 69,742 (TMU)
Current Owner – Purchased in 2019

General History

Introduced at the 1954 New York Auto Show in prototype form (alongside the 300SL Gullwing), the 190SL was a glamorous yet affordable way to enjoy Mercedes quality and refinement with open coachwork. Principally motivated by US distributor and marketing pioneer of European imports, Max Hoffmann, the 190SL positioned Mercedes-Benz as a premier brand in the growing North American market. Priced at around $4,000, the 190SL was slightly more than half the price of the 300SL, making it an attractively priced sporty car with durable mechanicals. The enticing value coupled with irresistible looks motivated nearly 26,000 buyers to purchase these sporting cars between 1955 and 1963, generating a far greater market impact over the lower volume 300SL. The 1900cc SOHC engine with twin Solex carburetors coupled to the 4-speed transmission, delivered spirited driving for the day, supported by double-wishbone, coil spring front suspension and swing axle coil spring rear suspension. Today, the 190SL remains an attractive and highly desirable classic, blending elegant open motoring with modest mechanicals.
General Overview

According to the current owner, this 190SL is believed to have been delivered to the first owner, a resident of Southern California. Under long-term ownership, this 190SL still wears the original yellow and black license plate that was issued to the first owner in 1959. Having benefited from the dry California climate, the current owner purchased the car in 2019 and has performed extensive mechanical and cosmetic work on the car while enjoying casual outings and attending local club events. Under prior ownership, the engine was replaced with a sedan type block but, under current ownership has been correctly fitted with a correct 190SL series engine block which remains in the car today.

Shortly after purchasing the car, the current owner commissioned Silver Star Mercedes Service in Escondido, CA to perform a comprehensive rebuild for the engine. The former replacement engine was removed along with the transmission, and a new head was supplied by SL Autohaus and fitted to a correct 190SL engine block. The rebuild included pistons, new intake and exhaust valves, new chain and idle gear, a fresh crankshaft, new camshaft and crank sprocket, new main bearings, rod bearings, a new clutch plate, correct gaskets, fittings, and hoses for the reinstallation of the professionally machined and rebuilt engine.

Also at this time, the shop installed the correct rebuilt twin Solex carburetors, a new clutch, flushed the fuel tank and lines, rebuilt the fuel pump, and replaced the distributor. The brake booster was rebuilt, a new master cylinder installed, and wheel cylinders and shoes properly cleaned and serviced. Including the new head purchased from SL Autohaus these parts and services totaled over $46,000.00. In preparation for consignment, the carburetors were adjusted, all fluids checked and topped off as needed, and all systems inspected for operation.

General Condition

Today this 190SL presents as a very handsome example combining older restoration efforts and substantial mechanical work. Benefiting from California ownership, the overall cosmetics are perfectly suited to the confident mechanical refurbishment performed over the past few years. The red paint is smooth and glossy with consistent color, coverage, and deep luster. Panel fit is excellent including the doors which shut properly without force, while the hood and trunk lid offer smooth latching and fit. The exterior chrome is in excellent condition, with beautiful luster and bright reflections. All lenses, lighting, and glass are in excellent condition bearing correct Sekurit branding etches on the side glass. The windshield is a later series replacement unit which has minor delamination in the corners. The black convertible top is in excellent condition appearing to have been replaced very recently as the condition appears essentially as new. Matching slotted steel wheels are finished in red with correct wheel covers and trim rings, all of which are in excellent condition and fitted with a set of contemporary Pirelli 175/80 R13 radial tires. The hardtop included with the car is finished in matching red and is the desirable larger curved rear window type.

The interior is a very nice display of correct finishes, accurate materials, and vintage charm delivering a rewarding and cohesive presence. The seats have been reupholstered some time ago owing to their comfortable, supple feel, which matches nicely to the door panels, correct carpet, and dash pad. The matching red dashboard is particularly nice with excellent gauges showing vivid dial face color, crisp numeric indication, and beautiful chrome bezels. The excellent condition of the chrome dash trim and refined detailing throughout the dashboard, steering wheel and other interior elements are a delight. The Becker Europa radio and glove box mounted clock are in excellent condition as well and function properly. The German square weave carpet, also more recently replaced, exhibits minimal wear even in the driver’s footwell area. The trunk is very clean and properly finished in satin black including the satin black trunk lid underside, finished with matching carpet for the trunk floor. A full-sized slotted rim spare tire is properly mounted in the wheel tub with the factory retaining clamp in place. Although stored separately for the sake of preservation, a set of tools in the tool roll are included and can be stored in the tool storage bin on the driver’s side under the trunk mat.

The engine compartment is in excellent condition with proper presentation using correct parts and finishes. The aluminum intake plenum feeding the correct and recently rebuilt twin Solex carburetors uses a correct intake system and air cleaner. In addition to the engine rebuild, new head, and twin Solex carburetor rebuilds, services have included attention to correct lines, hoses, and electrical as needed. Of particular note, the heater boxes, often collapsed or damaged, are in excellent condition. The various and correct Mercedes-Benz numbers, build plates, and stampings are consistent with the body and chassis sequences for original cars. The engine block retains a correct engine tag and stamping consistent with 190SL series engine blocks. The chassis is in immaculate condition having benefited from restoration work performed to a very high standard, exceptional detailing, and a preserved structure in keeping with the history of a dry California car. There is no visual evidence of structural compromise to the floor pans or suspension mounting points and the engine and transmission castings, suspension, and brake hardware are in excellent condition.

The car starts on command using traditional allowances for cold engine starts and proper warm up procedure before operation. The engine is very well tuned benefiting from recent twin carburetor rebuild and tuning. The gearbox engages easily in all gears offering smooth shifts and a properly sprung clutch. Test and sorting miles since the engine was rebuilt have been minimal but appropriately performed during run-in over the past 100-200 miles. The car operates smoothly and confidently under general road use with steering, braking, and suspension consistent with cars of this period. Delightfully finished and mechanically refined, this 190SL is sure to bring a smile to any vintage Mercedes-Benz enthusiast who enjoys the many charms of an open sports motoring.

Items Included with the Car

This 190SL is accompanied by a hardtop, a rear convertible top cover, selected service invoices outlining recent work and totaling over $40k, a 190SL owner’s manual, a MB 190 Service Manual, a MB 190SL Service Manual, a set of MB owner’s manuals and booklets, a tool kit and roll, spare gear shift knob, and spare keys.

The above vehicle information is complete and accurate to the best of our knowledge at the time it is posted to this website. Corrections or additional information is always appreciated. All advertised prices exclude government fees and taxes, any finance charges, any dealer document preparation charge, and any emission testing charge. Vehicles are subject to prior sale. All advertised to be true but not guaranteed. We assume no liability for errors or omissions.

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Fantasy Junction  •  510-653-7555  •  1145 Park Ave, Emeryville, CA 94608