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Lot 414: Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster

Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia, Bonhams (3 June 2012)

Alongside its hyper-expensive race-bred sports car - the 300SL - Mercedes-Benz offered the less exotic but no less refined 190SL. Announced in 1954 and based on the 180 saloon whose all-independently-suspended running gear it used, the 190SL did not enter production until January 1955, the delay being caused by alterations aimed at strengthening the saloon's shortened platform to compensate for the open body's reduced stiffness. Mounted on a detachable sub-frame along with the four-speed manual gearbox, front suspension and steering, the power unit was a 1,897cc overhead-camshaft four - the first such engine ever to feature in a Mercedes-Benz. Breathing through twin Solex downdraft carburetors, the M121 unit produced 120bhp SAE at 5,700rpm, an output sufficient to propel the 190SL to 100km/h (62mph) in 14.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 171km/h (106mph). With its four-speed, all-synchromesh gearbox, servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes and fully independent suspension, the 190SL was both more refined and more comfortable than any British sports car. The model was a big hit in the USA where many of the slightly fewer than 26,000 produced between 1955 and 1963 found homes.

This white over navy blue hides 190SL was purchased by the vendor from a friend who she knew to take fastidious care of his cars. Indeed, during the penultimate owner's care of the car (as well as the owner prior to him), the car was meticulously and regularly serviced by European Auto Solutions of Waltham, Massachusetts. During this time, the Benz's brakes were overhauled and new rear brakes cylinders were fitted, the radiator was recoiled, the transmission was serviced, the drive belts and ignition tumbler were replaced, the windshield was replaced with a factory fresh screen, and a new soft top was fitted with all new bows, fabric, and seals. In addition to the upkeep, the Solex carbs have been replaced with a pair of throatier Webers, making the roadster a bit more sprightly down the road. The hard work, much of it documented with receipts accompanying the car, paid off as the car won a number of regional events in Boston and the surrounding area, including best Mercedes-Benz at the 2009 German Car Meet at the Larz Anderson Auto Museum in Brookline, Massachusetts.

With an expanding collection, the vendor has decided to pass this droptop onto another keeper to make room for recent acquisitions. Similar to its big brother, the 300SL, in appearance, this 190SL is no doubt ready to enjoy some top down motoring with its new owner at the wheel.

Lot Details
Auction Collectors' Motorcars and Automobilia
Bonhams, Greenwich, Connecticut
TypeCar
Lot Number414
Estimate$50000-$60000
Outcome SOLD
Hammer Price$47000
Hammer Price (inc premium)$54990
Year1958
Condition rating0
Registration number
Mileage-
Chassis number1210428500787
Engine number
Engine capacity (cc)
Engine - cylinders
Number of doors2