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Barn Find 1956 Mercedes 190SL


Update 8/21/13 – This 190SL has been relisted!

From 6/11/13 – This early 1956 Mercedes 190SL has been parked in southern Maine since 1969. It is in need of a complete restoration, but these early cars are becoming very sought after. While it is missing its original engine, the rare small lens tail lights, and is in need of lots of metal work, bidding has already exceeded $25k $20k. Have a look at it here on eBay.


With the ever rising value of the 300SL, it’s inevitable that its baby brother is also going to increase in value. With that being said, it’s going to be tough to not end up being upside down on this one. Hopefully someone will save if from further deterioration and will get it back on the road. Special thanks to Jaime G. for letting us know about this find.


  1. J. Pickett

    $500. parts car for a nice 190 sedan.

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  2. George Member

    “Beauty is pain.”

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  3. keith

    Yep, had the sedan, a ’59 190b, 4-speed on the column, was a unique car.

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  4. RandysSpit

    Is that a shadow of an Alien taking the second picture?

    This car is nice as a runner, but this one is a far cry from a runner.

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    • Matt

      It’s a satellite dish. ;-)

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  5. scot

    ~ someone please explain how the ‘adjustable fuel octane switch’ functions.
    ‘private listing – bidders’ identities protected’ are words which always make me a bit suspicious. in a standard eBay auction is there some way to know who a bidder is that i don’t know about?

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    • Horse Radish

      the ‘switch’ is actually a cable attached to a device on the bottom of the distributor, which allows the driver to ‘adjust’ the ignition timing to earlier or later.

      As for E-bay: As I said before, THE ONLY REASON to make a private auction these days (of E-bay camouflage) is to try and conceal shill bidding.
      And 3,. not anymore, I don’t think.

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      • scot

        ~ ‘and 3’ refers to identifying bidders?
        think i’m in near total agreement with you & Dolphin.
        shill bidding = theft.as well.
        sold and bought enough cars to recognize ‘someone said they;d give me X$X’ -not ethical sales tactic, but there are so many of them.

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  6. skloon

    The octane switch moves the distributor, changing the timing if I recall correctly, I can’t beleive the price this thing is going for

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    • scot

      ~ thank you, @ skloon, that’s actually a slick idea… if it works reliably.
      i would, without hesitation, choose the ’55 190SL Jesse posted on June 5, (with Ford small block) over this car. the ad is no longer on Hemmings, i’m wondering what the final $$ was.

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  7. Peter R

    I actually drove one of these for a few days back in the ’60’s. It couldn’t get out of its own way. Naturally great Mercedes quality and finish but zero on the performance scale. The pricing on these is strictly for garage queens – certainly never a driver’s car. And this one is out of sight.

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  8. Horse Radish

    I am very sorry Josh, but I actually have to contradict:
    For Mercedes the opposite holds true.
    The LATER cars are always more desirable than the early ones in a production model run that sometimes spanned a decade (in this case 1955 to ’63).
    Usually after a couple of years all the bugs have been corrected and improved design corrections etc…
    The ‘unique’ items described are actually part of the improvements and the clock and such are highly desirable options to have.
    While a matter of ‘curiosity’ or nostalgia, this does not add, but subtract value from the car.
    Looks like an early 1956 car, 1956 Chassis with a 1955 body (built and stored in the dead of winter 1955/6), back when rust proofing was non-existent. Some people shy away from winter cars because of obvious rust issues, but they are present in 90+ % of the cars anyways……
    This is insane pricing/bidding and as mentioned you might be bidding against the seller’s wife or buddies.
    Red flag city in my eyes.
    Cool car, but……….

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    • Horse Radish

      Hold on to your pants everybody:
      This car fetched an astounding $32,101 and from the looks the high bidder left a rally high bid (open-ended ?) 3 days before auction end and saved it over the finish line.
      Congratulations , I think..
      At least it ran the distance but still ???
      who is behind the bids………??

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      • Horse Radish

        I guess that did not work out. (as of 8/21/13)
        Re-offered by the same seller with 5 days to go @ $20,200……

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      • Horse Radish

        O.K. now that tops everything.
        I guess the seller was not happy with what that E-bay garbled system still revealed, so he made it a private auction.
        Now THAT tells me in big BOLD letters on those red flags: “Stay away”
        If he wants top $$s for it why doesn’t he just restore it and sell it at Barrett Jackson for half a million or some such…..
        that should be easy ??

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  9. Dolphin Member

    After the 190SL from 6 days ago, it’s deja vu all over again after.
    Even the prices and needs—everything—are similar.

    House prices are moving up and the stock market is way up, but vintage Mercedes prices are soaring. I respect the views of those who love vintage Mercs, but when prices show signs of getting this crazy and potential bidders are falling all over themselves trying to shove a pile of cash toward the seller, I can’t stop myself from thinking of the fun I could have with what a carefully spent $10 or $15K will buy me.

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    • Thomas Bean

      Be careful…..got to figure in spending power of the dollar.

      Adjusted for inflation (is that possible when The Gov stats are always dubious?) our dollar ain’t worth much. Six years after Bush, the dollar was worth half?

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  10. Pete

    if only Columbo had more taste this would totally have been his car, has the same worn feeling as his little Peugeot.

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  11. Bryan Cohn

    To think I had a chance to buy a ’59 190SL in 1989 for $800 and thought, given its condition that it was over priced by about half….

    Like all of you I cannot fathom who would pay $25k for a project of this magnitude. There is a arse for every seat but the price of some cars is simply outrageous. It will be interesting to see how far this one goes.

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    • scot

      ~ there’s an arse for every seat, Bryan, but(t) if i won this auction my arse wouldn’t let me sit anywhere for a lonnnggggg while.

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  12. Clay Bryant

    Private party bidding on Ebay?There will always be some “dip” that will step in after a drunk night out and pop for it.It would make a good coffee table but don’t get carried away on the sofa and cut yourself on the rust.

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    • Thomas Bean

      Richard Rollins in Dallas does a cable Tv show ” Fast and Loud” in which….occasionally he gets too drunk at night and buys cars and has them delivered that he doesn’t remember buying?

      Know why casinos always hand out free drinks to gamblers?!

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  13. Darel

    My ’38 Chevy 1 1/2 ton truck has a similar “octane adjuster” on the distributor.

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    • Joe Howell

      I’d rather have your truck. I drove a 1959 190 once in 70 or 71 and thought it was a dreadful tank.

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      • Thomas Bean

        I’d rather have a riding lawn mower that the guy at a local body shop bought for 125$. It was badged by AMF (when they owned Harley Davidson) and it has a cigarette lighter on the dash board? It’s a classic vehicle with a unique accessory….no?

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