Rare Roadster: 1961 Mercedes 190 SL Rennsport

If you had more than a few dollars at your disposal in 1961 and wanted to race a Mercedes-Benz sports car, then the 300SL would almost certainly have been your weapon of choice. However, if your budget was a bit tighter, there was still an option available that wore the three-pointed star. It was the 190 SL “Rennsport.” This didn’t bring any real increases in power, but it did shave some significant weight from the vehicle. This particular Mercedes isn’t a genuine Rennsport but is a well-executed replica that has just undergone a full nut-and-bolt restoration. As you will see from the photos, it is hard to find fault with the vehicle. It is located in Valencia, California, and has been listed for sale here on eBay. The owner has set a BIN price of $165,000, but the option is available to make an offer.

If you don’t want to buy a replica, but want nothing less than the real deal, then let me be the first to wish you luck on your quest. This is because fewer than 30 vehicles received the Rennsport treatment worldwide, and it isn’t clear just how many survive today. There is no doubt that this Mercedes looks the part, with its shaved doors and the genuine Mercedes aluminum wheels. The big question for me is just how meticulous the owners have been. If they have concentrated on the more important details, then the doors, the hood, and the trunk lid should all be made from aluminum in a bid to reduce weight. They have gone to the trouble of ditching the original windshield and its frame and fitted the tiny Rennsport screens in their place. The code DB744 Silver paint looks absolutely stunning and is well within keeping for a restoration that has only accumulated 900 miles since completion. The panels are arrow-straight, and all of the external chrome has been either restored or replaced. If you look at the gallery at the bottom of the article you will find a series of photos of the vehicle’s underside. Once again, the presentation is nothing short of spotless.

The 190 is a full numbers-matching car, featuring the 1,897cc, M121 4-cylinder engine, backed by a 4-speed manual transmission. This engine breathes through a set of original Solex carburetors, pumping out 120hp. Now, this isn’t a lot of power, but just like Porsches of this period, it isn’t the total power that you need to consider, but how the vehicle utilizes it. That is something that this car does well, producing very lively performance. Of course, if the aluminum panels have been fitted, then the car will also be considerably lighter, and this will help matters even more. The owner says that the Mercedes is a dream to drive, and as you will hear in this YouTube video, it sounds just as beautiful as it looks.

Okay, so red plaid upholstery is not going to be to everyone’s taste, but the interior detailing provides some strong indications that the detail work has been attended to in this case. The seats feature that plaid in combination with leather, and under those covers, the seat frames are made from lightweight aluminum. There isn’t one ounce of excess padding to be found, while this version of the 190 didn’t even receive a radio. However, this is an interior that would seem to be just as meticulously restored as the rest of the vehicle, and the next owner will find themselves with nothing to do but slide behind the wheel and enjoy the driving experience.

This is not a muscle car. It is not even remotely related to a muscle car. However, point this 1961 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Rennsport at a piece of twisting road, and you will soon discover what this car is all about. It is not a cheap classic by any stretch of the imagination, but with genuine Rennsports being so scarce, this is probably as close as most people are likely going to get to owning one. It is possible to find nice standard examples of the 190 SL Roadster in the market today for $75,000, although meticulously restored examples can fetch prices of $150,000 or more. At $165,000, that makes this one a very interesting proposition.


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  1. bobhess bobhess Member

    Nice car, but the buyer that pays over twice the price of a stock car for a replica will be one that hasn’t found anything to do with his money yet.

    Like 4
  2. Tom c

    If that’s the same pattern as the original interior …. oh boy that’s fugly. Not sure I could get used to that .

    Like 2
    • RayT Member

      Take a look …. https://www.conceptcarz.com/images/Mercedes-Benz/55-Mercedes_W196R_DV-15-PBC_i02.jpg

      So pretty clearly a “homage” to the original upholstery used in factory racers, taken to excess.

      That pretty much sums the whole car up for me. Someone who digs M-Bs went over the top to recreate a car that really didn’t mater much when new. I can see a serious Stuttgart fan liking it, but it leaves me a little cold.

      Like 3
    • LMK Member

      Picnic table cover seat upholstery . How charming..

      No thanks !!!

      Like 2
  3. Nevadahalfrack Nevadahalfrack Member

    Nicely done mods to a beautiful car. Like an old XKE or Alfa Giuletta of the era, the lines are definitive and flow well.
    The power to weight was not ideal for interstate cruising but turn it loose on a series of twisting asphalt and you’ll have to clean the June bugs off your teeth when you get home, making it perhaps the original Keto Diet-lots of protein with low car(b)s!
    I hope the new owner enjoys dancing on the asphalt with her, and let’s her play her own best game.

    Like 5
  4. JoeNYWF64

    Can it be legal to drive this in the USA w/o bumpers, wipers, & windshield FRAMES? Why a useless back seat? Lack of one would give 1 more storage space & seat travel for the front seats – the bottom of the steering wheel is darn close to the cushion! Not a wide front sway bar, but i guess effective.

    Like 3
  5. Keruth

    Nice vehicle, but the 190sl’s all had aluminum hoods and doors, factory!
    $165k is a reach.

    Like 3
  6. robbert

    Barbie 190 ugly ugly ugly. Mr Benz would turn in his grave seeing this ugly duck.

  7. Mike

    All negative comments today. Looks like the shelter in place order is making everybody a grouch.

    Like 2
  8. Dave Mazz

    165 Large for a sporty car that has the performance of a well-used Miata seems a bit high. Maybe the a MB 190 SL Rennsport fan out there will pop for this buggy, but I think the asking price is about $100,000 too high….remember it *is* a replica.

  9. John

    Girl’s car then, girl’s car now. And the upholstery is frightening.

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