Black Plate Beater: 1958 Mercedes 190SL

Described as a “very solid restoration car,” this 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL is a sharp California black plate survivor that’s been repainted and needs a proper reconditioning. Still, what we can see here presents as a fairly solid car provided the undersides are as clean as the top layers, and it’s listed here on eBay with bidding over $33K and the reserve unmet.

Fitted with its matching hardtop, the 190SL looks largely intact, with matching chrome bumpers front and rear, both of which will need restoration. All hubcaps remain affixed and the steel wheels behind them are color-coded with the body. The 190SL left the factory wearing silver paint with a black interior, and my guess is it will return to that combo with the next owner.

The interior remains in surprisingly sound condition and the dash looks decent. Seats show wear but no major scars, and it’s likely this is the original material given the factory color scheme. The seller doesn’t note whether the floors hide any rust or major holes, and one would hope the California plates indicate long-term dry storage. It’s now residing in Tennessee, so who knows for sure.

The engine is said to turn over and attempts to crank, but the seller recommends that the carbs and fuel system be rebuilt in order for it to run properly. These 300SL alternatives really aren’t comparable aside from being a Mercedes roadster of the same period, but their looks continue to improve as the gullwing and accompanying roadster continue to sell in the millions. Buy one now, as they say.


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  1. Bob S

    I owned one back in the early 60s, and would never sold it, if I would have had a place to store it. Mine was silver and red, which I believe is the nicest colour combination for this design. I like the hard top, and believe that it is a real plus for this car.
    They were a wonderful car for cruising, but not a performance car. A fifth gear or an overdrive would have been the perfect addition to these cars.
    Assuming that there is no rust or mechanical problems, I think the bidding on the car, could go much higher.
    I hope it finds a good home.

    Like 5
  2. Wayne

    Jeff, evidently the the cost of your beaters is considerably more that the cost of my beaters. Mine are $2,500 and down.
    I like these, but like the next newer version better.
    Looks like a solid car, I would make sure the mechanical bits and tires were up to speed, remove the bumpers and drive it.

    Like 4
  3. Rex Kahrs Member

    I can’t quite figure out what’s going on in that engine photo. It appears the area behind the air intake tube has been mulched. What is that tan stuff?

    Like 3
    • MbzOne

      Original cocoa fiber insulation.

    • George

      That tan stuff looks like layers of dirt. The battery box looks kind of strange as well. I have a 57 and they are prone to collect moister in the battery box if it doesn’t drain properly.

  4. Miguel

    Jeff, is this a joke?

    “a sharp California black plate survivor”

    Did you look at the numbers and letters on the plate?

    Like 3
    • UK Paul 🇬🇧

      It says California?

      • Miguel

        Yes it does. Jeff says this is an original Black plate car. The original black plates had 3 letters and 3 numbers.

        This is the new black plate with 7 digits and is not original to anything. The fact that the plate is so beat up in front should cause serious concern as it is not that old of a plate, maybe 3 or 4 year max.

        Like 6
      • UK Paul 🇬🇧

        Thanks, interesting to learn.

        Like 1
  5. Rob S.

    Cool! I just picked up one of these to restore for a customer. Black with red interior. These bring good $$ in nice shape.

    Like 2
  6. Alan Brase

    Pretty expensive to do to new standards. Those are Solex 40 carbs, like Porsche 912 carbs laid on their sides, but have cold enrichment and something else. Easily the most complicated carbs I ever looked at.
    Under hood looks quite complete, btw.
    I think the bumpers are actually the same parts as 300SL’s.

    Like 1
  7. Redragula

    Not an original CA black plate, this looks like a modern white plate with blue #s repainted to resemble one. The 2VGL numbers would put it around 1989-91. Even though obviously illegal its actually pretty common in CA. I even see them painted blue like the 70’s plates

    Like 4
    • Miguel

      You are right on the dates. I got a plate with a U in 1990 for my 1969 Ford XL.

      Like 2
  8. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member
  9. ROAR

    Based solely on the condition of the bumpers, one must have some concerns about the condition of the body, prior to the cover up paint job. “MB” might not only be the short version of Mercedes Benz, but rather, in this case, an acronym for “mucho-bondo.”

    Like 1

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