Almost Rust Free: 1960 Mercedes 190SL

This Mercedes was found in a California garage, where it had been hidding for the better part of 30 years. The seller states that it is “almost rust free”, which is just a nice way of saying it has rust issues but isn’t a rust bucket. We’ve seen plenty of these cars with serious rust problems and while this one is going to need some repairs, it doesn’t look too bad. Bidding has already passed $38k, so clearly there are a few people out there that see the potential in this garage find! If you want to see what all the fuss is about, you can find this one here on eBay in Watsonville, California.

It really is surprising to see bidding already so high with 9 days to go, but these cars have become quite desirable over the past few years. With 300SL prices reaching seven figures, it makes sense that these cars would go up in value as well. They might not offer the performance or experience of a 300SL, but for a fraction of the price you can at least get similar styling!

They might share similar styling, but the 190SL is nothing like its big brother. Power comes from a 1.9 liter inline 4 with 110 horsepower. While the engine’s design was derived from the 3.0 liter used in the 300SL, they were very different animals. This engine was originally fitted with twin Solex carburetors, but it currently has a pair of Webers mounted. I’d love to see how they adapted the original intake to work with the Webers and to see how they impact performance. The original carbs are in the trunk, so you actually could try out both to see which offers the best performance.

When it was introduced, the 190 was significantly cheaper than the 300SL, so they lack many of the features that made the 300 such an impressive automobile. That being said, these were still nice cars and really are beautiful in person. This one is going to need work, but it might not actually be that difficult to get it back on the road. And while it has some rust that needs to be addressed, at least you won’t have to replace that much metal.

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Comments

  1. Derek F

    I’m sure it has spent a great deal of time in this garage, but the CA license plate it wears tells me it entered and was registered in California around the year 2000. An original CA car would have an early black plate starting with a letter in the A-F ( ish ) range.

    Pretty car nonetheless.

    • Steve R

      That’s not correct.

      If the car had dropped out of the system, which occurs after seven years of inactivity, the DMV would issue it new plates when it was registered again. That happened to a 1970 Nova I have, the original blue plates were in the trunk and the new white plates were on the car.

      If you were lucky someone might have been able to talk the person at the DMV counter to let you keep the original plates if you had previous registration or a pink slip that showed those plates on that car, otherwise it wasn’t going to happen.

      Steve R

      • Maurader

        Yes, I believe it was around 1970 that was the first year for the blue plates.

  2. fcs

    Adapting Weber carbs to the original airlog is no real trick. There are adapter plates readily available to make it work.

    As far as performance, I don’t know if there is really all that much difference. The Solex carbs are a somewhat notorious for maintenance issues. Also parts for Webers are much easier to come by.

    But what do I know – I’ve got Mikuni carbs on my 190sl

  3. Leon

    Beat upRanger and all that landfill trash. Homeowner must have been a hoarder

  4. Adam Wright

    Don’t fall for it! The beautiful lines, the comparing it to a 300SL, it’s all a lie. While these cars are pretty they are awful to drive, big and lumbering, like driving a slow pregnant yak through mud. I know, my first barn find was one of these, and it was soooooo disappointing.

    • redsresto

      Shhhhh….don’t let potential buyers know. You’ll ruin the good thing 190 owners have going on right now…

    • George

      They were never built to be a performance car. 300SLs, with their swing axle killed a lot of doctors and lawyers and were un-affordable to most. Max Hoffman talked Mercedes into making the 190 based on a 180 sedan chassis. They were primarily built to be road cars and are quite comfortable on long trips. The Solex cars wear badly at the shafts and are expensive to rebuild.

    • Richard

      So true – although they are a pretty car in looks the driveability and performance are on a Trabant level

    • carsofchaos

      Driving a pregnant Yak through the mud sounds kinda fun, as long as it’s got 33’s on her!

  5. Mark S. Member

    Resto mod it with a modern MB drive line and suspension while leaving the body stock.

    • Justin Schmidt

      If it were mine, I’d do something in the same vein as this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4SCbVm0k02o

    • Mike W_H_ Mike W H Member

      I believe internet rules plainly state that if the term “restomod” is used, one must also include the acronym “sbc”.

  6. DETROIT LAND YACHT

    Not worth getting into a bidding war. If the owner would accept 7-9k…I would then take it for a thorough restomod. Along the lines of something like this:

    https://nl.pinterest.com/pin/261208847107646460/

    • carsofchaos

      Except that it’s already at $51k and still hasn’t hit the reserve.

  7. Greg Millard

    The vacuum actuating circuits on the Solex secondaries often are inoperative. Once corrected revs come easily and make this very light car a satisfactory performer with 118 HP to move it’s 2370 lbs. Great touring car with Mercedes build quality and excellent reliability. Retrogreg

    • Adam Wright

      Like many of them mine had Webers to replace the finacky Solex’s, and it was still a slow lumbering whale of a car with a big boat steering wheel. I know many people who buy these expecting not a sports car but at least a good touring car, but it underwhelms everyone. Pretty but boring, so boring.

  8. George Soffa

    It’s got the rare hardtop, which can sell for $7k by itself! Had several of these in the early 70s , and they were great for the winding roads in the Colorado mountains !!

  9. John C Cargill

    In the 60s when I was in college, myself and a few of our friends had mostly British cars. We found that even my 65 Midget and a friend’s spitfire not to mention TR3s and MGBs could readily embarass the only 190sl. Meant for doctor’s wives. A poor bargain now.

  10. George Soffa

    John, I agree about no bargain now !! Insane prices ! I bought my first for $900 in 1973 and it had the hardtop , which I stored in the garage ! Got it running well and cleaned it up, then sold in Denver for $3000 ! My second was a documented 38,000 mile car that had gotten hot at some point and puffed a little smoke, so paid the big money , $2300 in 1975 , then rebuilt the engine myself ! Enjoyed just driving it for several years and rarely saw others ! Sold it, including the hardtop for, for $4750 in 1978 and felt like a bandit !! Never imagined today’s prices !!

  11. carsofchaos

    It’s at $51k as of right now, and still hasn’t hit the reserve yet.

  12. francis

    I did buy this car yesterday.
    It need a lot of work but it’s a good original body.

    If you have one as this for sale please contact me…I still have space in my garage. email me : miebrus@Hotmail.com

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