• Matching numbers • Rare right-hand drive example
• Exceptional condition throughout
• Dry-stored & low mileage
• Restored between 2004-2007
Produced from 1955 to 1963, the 190SL was the sibling of Mercedes’ legendary 300SL. It offered drivers a smaller, lighter and more affordable package, while retaining the gorgeous styling cues and build quality of the bigger car.
Known as the W121, this little two-door roadster was a hit in its day and continues to be an icon of style and sophistication.
Originally produced in Stuttgart, this car was shipped to the British Mercedes Benz distributor in 1960. We know little of the early history, but by 2004 the vehicle was residing in California, where it underwent comprehensive restoration work before being shipped to Sydney, Australia where it stayed until 2013.
In 2013 it was imported and re-registered in the UK, before the current owner purchased it in 2014. So we can say for definite the car has had 4 owners. The car has been kept in a dry, heated garage by the current owner and only brought out in good weather. In fact, since 2013, it has covered less than 1,000 miles. You really can tell that this car has been lovingly cared for, presenting as it does in pristine condition.
As expected with a car of this calibre, there is a substantial file of paperwork, including the V5, previous MOTs and a large number of invoices and receipts detailing the work that has been carried out on the vehicle.
The current owner has also sourced an original Owner’s Manual and an original Glenn’s Workshop Manual – rare items in their own right.
The number plate authentication certificate from the DVLA is present and correct from the time of import, as well as a copy of the Mercedes Benz certificate of authenticity.
From the beautiful, jewel-like dials and chromework, to the sculptural ivory wheel and gearshifter, every inch of the SL’s interior is a work of art.
The blood red leather seating and dash trim is in superb condition, as are the deep red carpets. Contrasting body coloured metal sweeps across the dash, adding a brilliant splash of colour. It really does feel like a very special place to spend time.
Every inch of the interior is in exceptional condition, it’s difficult to believe this car is almost 62 years old. All the instruments and features are original and work as they should.
The current owner ordered the bespoke, original 1960s style floor mats, which were made to order in the USA. Even the boot compartment is in near-factory condition, with new carpeting and a full-size spare. You’d be hard-pressed to find any classic car interior that combines such artistry and style with impeccable quality.
To say that the 190SL is good looking is to do it a huge disservice. It’s an achingly pretty shape, with perfect proportions and lovely design details. Add to that the fact that this car comes in such a brilliant colour combination – navy blue roof over sky blue coachwork – and you have what we believe is one of the best-looking cars you’ll ever see.
The bodywork, paintwork, brightwork and underside are in incredible condition. A car of this age simply doesn’t have the right to be in this kind of condition. In 2004, while it was in California, new floor pans were installed (at 42,000 miles), while new chrome tailpipes and passenger wing mirror were fitted in 2016.
Without seeing the car in the flesh, it’s difficult to convey just how good the paintwork is – deep, glossy and almost glass-like. All of the brightwork is near-perfect, and even the colour-coded hubcaps are in mint condition.
The fabric roof, which is navy blue lined with a light taupe, has obviously been installed fairly recently as it looks to be brand new. We think it may have been fitted when the car underwent extensive restoration work in California.
Mercedes cars of this era were renowned for their mechanical reliability and quality, and the 190SL’s drivetrain is no different. The single overhead cam 1,896cc 4 cylinder engine is mated to a 4-speed manual, for a sporting, engaging drive. It sounds very healthy and runs smoothly.
Under the bonnet, the engine bay is extremely tidy and clean, giving clear evidence of how well it has been cared for. The receipts and paperwork confirm that significant mechanical work was undertaken while the car was in California, and that the current owner has continued to service and care for the vehicle meticulously.
In 2007 at 43,000 miles, the engine underwent a significant rebuild, a new clutch was fitted and the brakes were rebuilt. In 2009 a new radiator and thermostat were added and the steering box was reconditioned. The current owner had the car converted to more reliable Weber carburretors in 2016, as well as replacing the inlet manifold gasket and having the distributor rebuilt. Overall, the car is in excellent mechanical shape.
With curvaceous bodywork and peerless 50s/60s Mercedes’ build quality, the 190SL has long been a sought-after and coveted classic, and rightly so. In the flesh this is, quite simply, a breathtaking vehicle. In this specification and condition, which can rightly be described as exquisite, it’s a true one of a kind.
The current owner has clearly poured countless hours and significant finances into maintaining this car in near-perfect condition. We see a lot of classic cars, but very few are ever presented in this kind of condition. While nothing is ever truly flawless, this is as close as we’ve seen. The paintwork, chrome, interior and engine are as just about as good as you could wish them to be.
When was the last time you saw one of these on the road? It’s an exceptionally rare car. And in this colour combination and specification, it must be one of the rarest cars in the world. It works surprisingly well in a modern context – the small footprint, unburstable Mercedes build quality of the era and simple drivetrain make it a genuine proposition as a regular, usable classic.
By the same token, it’s the sort of precious item you may just want to keep for those beautiful days where, paintwork gleaming and that glorious little 4-cylinder roaring, you zip along your favourite B-road soaking up the summer sun.
If you’re looking for an appreciating classic that will be adored by everyone that sees it and could genuinely take pride of place at any concours show you care to mention, look no further. This is a stunning, once-in-a-lifetime vehicle that deserves to be cherished for many more decades to come.
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