Power by Ford: 1955 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

Ford-powered-190SL

The boys over at Gullwing Motor Cars are good at digging up rare finds, but normally their prices are a little rich for our blood. This 1955 Mercedes 190SL might be priced a little high, but we still want it badly. Black plates, hard top, and a V8! Take a look at their listing here on Hemmings with an asking price of $26,500.

Mercedes-190SL-V8

That’s right, someone pulled the inline-four and replaced it with this Ford V8. We wouldn’t normally promote this sort of behavior, but considering that the original lump only put out about 105 horsepower, we think we can make an exception this time. Even if this V8 only put out 250 horsepower, it would be enough to turn this Benz into a German style Cobra. Just think what it could do with a few speed parts…

Comments

  1. Skip Middleton

    Actually, if it was a 190, it only had a 4 banger, not a six. I think it’s kinda fun to make that swap, tripling, or nearly so, the horsepower could have some interesting side effects on that little car. The swing-axle rear suspension might have some additional quirks, for instance, channeling that much extra torque… :-D

    • Jesse Jesse

      Thanks for the correction Skip. All fixed.

  2. scot

    ~ in the late ’60s a friend in Iowa found a wrecked 190SL which he returned to the road by welding together a replacement fender and nose, and then planting a 289 Ford into it, just as this one. i did not take the opportunity to buy it for less than $2500. sigh ….

  3. Dolphin Dolphin

    This is one way to fix the 190SL’s horsepower problem. Can’t fault it in principle, but the devil’s in the details. Skip has already mentioned the 190SL’s swing axles, and we’ll add:

    – skinny tires (easily corrected with the right replacement wheels)
    – 9″ drum brakes (not so easily corrected, but should be—-all that Ford power!)
    – car’s value/appreciation as a collectible will be held back with all the mods

    But what the heck, have fun with it on cruise night and at local shows and watch a few jaws drop.

    • Jesse Jesse

      All true Dolphin, but there is just something so cool about period modifications… even if they weren’t done right.

  4. Horse Radish

    It’s actually Gall-wing motors.
    Same m.o.:
    photos from previous owner to him,
    and FLIP

    • rancho bella

      The “Rad” is right. These guys are notorious.

  5. Richard L Gugenberger

    Carol Shelby put Ford v8 s in AC Bristols ,How did that work out for him ???, at least you can service the thing , and enjoy it .

  6. Jeff

    The enduring combo of european body design with an American drive train is brilliant for the enthusiast. The availability of parts with the DIY mechanics is great. There are plenty of restored originals around.

  7. Charles Gould

    Are you serious? Might be priced “a little high”?
    Whoever wrote this review might be a little high!
    $26,500 for a tarted up 190SL with a poor and tired paintjob in a non original color, and powered by an old Ford V8 is sacrilege!
    Under the hood is discusting, and there is the remnants of an exhaust manifold gasket, and it is hard to tell if it is a V8 or a four cylinder gasket from the original engine. This car is not worth anywhere near the asking price, and any knowledgeable enthusiast should know that.
    The engine swap totally destroys any collectable value or esthetic for this car. Sure the original 190’s were undernourished and performance was lacking, but they were still a delightful car to drive within their own power band, and handled quite well for a swing axle car of the period.
    These cars have soared beyond their intrinsic values, simply because of their resemblance to the 300SL series, with no regard for the lack of performance. They were, however, truly wonderful cars to own when the values were still under 10K. I had three of them purchased in remarkale condition from $3,000.00 to $7,000.00, and made a small but reasonable profit on each of them when I sold them. Once the values crossed $25,000, there are far better options, and I would never consider one in this condition for anywhere near that price.
    Chas

    • Jesse Jesse

      Chas, I did suggest that the price was “a little high”, but maybe it is not as outrageous as you think. According to Hagerty, 190SL values have spiked as of late. Supposedly #4 cars should go for around $50k nowadays. I always prefer original cars and $26k may still be too much for a hack job, but I still personally like this one. What do you think it’s worth?

  8. Bert Arthur

    Sacrilege???? Lighten up a little.Someone had a little fun with an old car.That’s all.The asking price may be a joke,but there usually is a ‘joker’ with enough money.

  9. J. Pickett

    Far too much money. I never liked these because an MGB could outrun one for much less money. It road the 300’s coat tails. A car for Dr.’s wives. If it was far gone the 289 was a blessing.

  10. Knud Kristensen

    Great car, I love the style. It is a shame that the original straight 4’er is changed to a Ford V8 (and a FORD of all things!!) – but who can say no to 250 HP?

    • Knud Kristensen

      Correction: original straight 6’er (I love 6’er sound. It is so sexy :-)

      • Horse Radish

        Correction, so so sorry.
        190SLs NEVER had anything but the 4 cylinder / solex sidedraft carbs (factory)

      • Knud Kristensen

        (Blushing) You are right, Horse Radish. Sorry too.

  11. Robert J

    This car looks like a lot of fun for a tinkerer. Too bad the value takes it out of the spheres of those who tinker. I am biased though as I’m presently planting a Honda S2000 engine in a Jensen Healey, which is sort of the modern day version of this swap with some similar issues.

  12. rancho bella

    I reckon they will find some sap willing to cough up the dough. What’s the saying? ” an arse for every seat”

  13. Larry

    Somebody liked it. The ad is gone.

    • Jesse Jesse

      Guess I wasn’t the only one…

  14. Dolphin Dolphin

    The listing on Hemmings is gone so either Gullwing was terribly hurt by some of the comments here (NOT likely), or someone liked it enough to pony up the cash. That’s very likely since as Jesse pointed out, these have gained big value lately, probably because of their classic ’50s look, the M-B factor, and the very high prices that 300SLs are bringing. $50K for a #4 car makes the $26K this one seems to have sold for right about right.

    These ain’t $3-$7K cars anymore, even with transplanted V8s in them

  15. FRED

    ISN’T WHAT HOTRODDING IS ALL ABOUT? MAKING CARS WITH NOT ENOUGH HP TO PASS DRUNK FARMER ON HIS TRACTOR(NOT SAYING ALL FARMERS ARE DRUNKS I ONCE WENT BAR HOPPING IN MY CAT 416C CAUSE IT WAS WINTER TIME AND WHAT BETTER WAY TO GET AROUND IN SNOW?) AND PUTTING BIGGER MOTORS IN THEM.PEOPLE HAVE BEEDOING STUFF LIKE THIS SINCE THE BEGINING OF CARS.IF IT WAS A HO289 IT WOULD BE FINE BUT A REGULAR 289 I WOULD HAVE LOOKED FOR SOMETHING MUCH BIGGER LIKE A 429CJ. ANYTHING IS POSSIBLE ,FIXABLE AND DOABLE IF YOU PUT YOUR MIND AND MAYBE FRIENDS MINDS INTO IT.LOOK WHAT CARROL SHELBY DID WITH THE COBRA AND EVEN THE MUSTANG AND LOOK WHAT HE BECME.SO I AM HAPPY TO SEE A CREATIVE MIND AT WORK SOLVING A PROBLEM EVERY HOTRODDER HATES ….NOT ENOUGH HP……

  16. J.C.

    We had a 289 powered 190SL in the Tampa Bay area, 1960s.

    Was a great auto-crosser at USF higher speed gymkana’s…

    Corvette type auto-cross.. the college had these HUGE parking lots for

    28,000 students.. two or more could be connected..

    The 190 had a Falcon rear axle with a Franklin Gear center section,

    straight from an Offy Sprint car… similar to Halibrand…

    A few local Ferrari 250GT daily drivers got Falcon axles…

    MUCH better than the FIAT axles..

    Purists need not know..

    J.C.

Leave a Comment

*