While it’s not located at my favorite road-side used car lot, this buttercup-yellow Mercedes Benz 190SL does sport a For Sale sign in its plastic back window. The car was parked in front of the neighborhood Land Rover repair business, and as most everything around there was closed for the day, I assumed it had been parked there in advertisement of its offering, a no-no within that particular municipality.
The only info on the sign was a phone number – no year or litany of recent updating, nor even a price. The car itself is in pretty nice original shape with some hazing and pocking in the chrome, and a decent-quality respray. Underneath it’s equally clean, and two of the major rust areas – the trailing arm mounts and the eybrows – appear clear of the tin worm. The 190SL was built between 1955 and 1963, and based on the gas pedal, tail lamps and rear bumper-mounted license plate lights, this one appears to be a 1957.
So what else is there to be said about it? The 190SL looks like a baby brother to the fire-breathing 300SL, and that’s exactly what it is. Eschewing the 300’s tube chassis for a modified W121 platform, the 190’s 1,897-cc four also offered less than half the big car’s horsepower at only 105. It also never came with the 300’s gull-wing doors, and the coupe version provides easier egress because of that.
But even at only 2,550-lbs, those few ponies make for more leisurely touring, which is what the little SL’s suspension – double wishbones up front, swing axle with lateral locators in back – is set up for. It’s very much a four cylinder German Thunderbird, although lacking the two-seat bird’s optional engines for more get up and go.
With an original price of around four grand, these cars were not cheap to begin with, and these days cars in this kind of shape are commanding upwards of fifty grand. That’s a lot of bank, but no where near what the similarly styled 300SL commands, so you can get the look without emptying your wallet with the little car.