31k Mile 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

As with many classic cars, certain models have really become ascendant in values as of late and one of the more notable standouts is the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL such as this 1959 example. When I spied its $79,190 price I was a bit taken back but a quick search around doesn’t reveal it to be that outsized. This example has nice originality to it, so let’s see what’s actually here. This Benz two-seater is located in Boulder City, Nevada and is available, here on Facebook Marketplace.

Offered between 1955 and 1963 with a total production of about 25K copies, 190 SL’s turn up fairly often on Barn Finds. Most that I encounter are either pristine or have essentially been reduced to cinders. This example is actually quite nice, very original, but could use some help in several different areas. The body is pretty straight but the heavy paint is chipped, peeling, and appears to be covering poor bodywork in places, particularly the passenger side rocker panel. There is also some rust brewing along seam lines and under the removable top’s trim. It may not be extensive deterioration, but the SL series is known for it, and a complete underside inspection is warranted. Good to see is that all of the expensive trim is still in place – the bumpers, however, are a bit weak and could use replating. This Mercedes is listed as having both tops but there is no image of the folding one included.

There is no included image of the engine and the listing states, “it’s going to get our full attention and our performance team is anxious to get this classic roadster up and running!” That tells me this is a non-runner.  When it’s up and running, motivation should be provided by a 1.9 liter, SOHC, in-line four-cylinder engine generating  104 HP. Gear changes are provided by a four-speed manual transmission.

The red leather interior is a breath of fresh air for the simple reason that it’s not trashed from sun and weather exposure in top-down mode – that’s how many of these are found. And speaking of the top, you can see it folded behind the seats but there is no description of its condition. The dash, instrument panel, and carpet, what can be glimpsed of it anyway, all look good and may require minimal attention.

The Facebook Marketplace images, no surprise, aren’t that good. I suggest you go to the seller’s website and review them there – it’s a much better, and more extensive, collection. So, pricing, I found a ’62, in driver quality condition for $89,900 – and it looks darn good. Higher brow examples start around $109K and go all the way to $189K, dependent, of course, upon specific condition and model year – both tops are apparently a value enhancer. This 190SL may be priced a bit high, considering what it would take to improve, demonstratively upon what’s here – it’s probably not out of line, however. When I think of vintage sports cars, the Mercedes 190SL is not one that immediately floats to the surface, at least not in the way an MG, Austin Healey, or Triumph might. I’d like to know, does anyone own, or have owned, a 190SL and if so, how was it – any good stories?


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  1. Crazyhawk

    Back in 1987 I had an ’86 Mustang GT and I saw a 190sl at a car dealership in Toledo, Ohio. I pulled in and checked it out and took it for a test drive. They wanted $12,500, which was about what I paid for my GT new. I remember getting out of the 190sl afterward thinking “yuck, I hate it”, and left. No offense to owners of these, I just thought it was slow and not fun to drive at all.

    Like 7
  2. Steve Clinton

    I’m gonna buy it…oh wait, somebody stole the front bumper. Never mind.

    Like 1
  3. erik johnston

    boy she looks tired!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!1

    Like 1
  4. landerso

    Those rockers appear to have had some serious, and poorly executed, rust repair. I imagine the real rust damage could be extensive.

    Like 2
    • Bill McCoskey

      When a car has poorly crafted body repairs, never take photos between 10 am and 4 pm unless it’s cloudy. The direct sunlight from a higher angle quickly exposes the poor body work as shown in these photos. I’ll bet most of the lower body panel areas won’t hold a magnet.

      Like 2
  5. Martin Horrocks

    Pass on this and any other 190SL. Not a sportscar and much inferior to the cheaper and timeless pagoda.

    Like 1

    No, it I s not a sports car. The MB 190SL was intended as, and is, a very solid touring car with timeless beauty – I fortunately have a ’68 Z28, a ’61 XKE which ARE both sports cars of merit that are reatly enjoyed on the more spirited days but a drive in the 190 with your wife is we find a pleasure for both.

    Like 1
  7. Daniel Gavin

    These 190’s are stupid money these days. I don’t get it….not attractive, turtle slow, not fun too drive and super expensive for parts, etc..
    How anyone could think this is a “baby” 300SL is beyond me.

    Like 1
  8. Mike Burnett

    I owned one for around 30 years and did a rolling restoration on it twice during that time. I’m currently doing a concours renovation on my second one. Yes, it’s true they were underpowered and too heavy, but they are great cars for touring. Converting the carbs from their ‘as supplied’ Solex phh’s to Webers will give a little pep, though with the enhanced prices nowadays I would recommend holding onto the original carbs for a future buyer who will want originality.
    The bumpers and grille chromes are a weak point as they are prone to rust. Where I live (France) chrome platers are few and far away, due to european health and safely regulations, so I have taken the hard decision to replace these (and the vulnerable stone guards and hub caps) with stainless steel ones from Vietnam. The quality is good but I’m a little worried that a future buyer will say that they are not appropriate for an otherwise concours car.

    Like 2
  9. Mike Burnett

    Oh, I forgot to add, the original carbs are prone to becoming slightly oval and leaking air where they meet the inlet duct. I was driving on a motorway in England at a modest speed, about 65 mph, when I saw in the rear view mirror a cloud of what looked like smoke. I pulled up quickly and the engine seized up straight away. When I eventually got the car home and the head off, pistons 2 and 3 had large holes in them and their sides eaten away as far as the rings, and the aluminium head badly melted, plus 2 of the valves had broken off, and were being slammed into the cylinder head. And the reason? As far as I could see, it was due to the heavy aluminium plenum chamber causing uneven mixtures in the combustion chambers. It turned out that the reason for this was that the engine did not posess its carburettor support tube berween the plenum chamber and the cylinder block. A simple 8 inch tube that at the time cost about $9. The cost of repairs ran to many hundreds of pounds. As a temporary measure, I went to the local salvage yard and purchased the engine from a 190 saloon (sedan) and it went in without any alteration, the only visible difference being the cover of the cylinder head which was flat for the 190sl and stepped for the sedan.

    Like 3
    • Steve Clinton

      You lost me at ‘I forgot to add’!

  10. losgatos_dale

    Nice ones were overpriced when they were 20k

    Like 2
  11. BobinBexley Bob in Bexley Member

    Those rocker panels look like a 5 owner MGB.

    Like 1
  12. bowmade

    okay, so it’s not a 300SL like in the 1976 Gumball Rally but it would still be fun to drive around with a drinking buddy.

    • Steve Clinton

      Just remember not to drink and drive (even if it IS a Mercedes!).

  13. Daniel Gavin

    Maybe……… if my drinking buddy was a Hooter’s chick !!!

    Like 1
  14. Steve Clinton

    Sellers believe if it’s an old Mercedes, it’s worth big bucks. Guess what, this one isn’t worth anywhere close to $79,190!

  15. John

    Girl’s car then, girl’s car now.

    • Steve Clinton

      John, John, John…hasn’t women’s lib taught you ANYTHING? LOL

      • John

        Absolutely! But it doesn’t apply to old cars.

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