Double Stars: Mercedes 190SL Projects

1958-Mercedes-190SL-project

UPDATE: The seller took down the original auction and has relisted it.

After our Gullwing sighting the other day, we had a hankering for something with a three-pointed star on the grill. Well, Jim S. delivered when he sent in a link to this eBay auction for a pair of 190SLs. They both need lots of work, but the ’58 looks promising with a rebuilt engine. We would rather have its big brother, but with 300SL prices in the stratosphere, this project pair looks like a bargain at $59k. Thanks for the tip Jim!

1958-190SL-engine

With its humble four-cylinder and run-of-the-mill chassis, the 190SL is often criticized for being too soft. We suspect that the reason for the high exceptions is the fact that it was sold along side the mighty 300SL with its space-frame chassis and racing six. It may not be a screamer on the track, but for most of us, a 190SL would make the perfect Sunday cruiser. Unfortunately, collectors are starting to overlook these misgivings and prices have been on the rise.

1962-Mercedes-190SL-project

Here is the ’62 car and from the photos and limited description, we are going to assume that it has the most needs. If true, we would probably sell it on to help finance the restoration of the other. Projects like this are always risky because you don’t know what all is missing or damaged. The photos do show many of the parts needed to put everything back together along with some brand new bits thrown in.

190sl-parts

The idea of restoring any old car can be a daunting prospect, especially when the parts supply has dried up. Luckily, you don’t have to worry too much about that with a Mercedes. Their Classic Center is still producing parts so you can can keep your old Benz on the road. Just be prepared to pay three-pointed star prices…

Like This? Get Our Daily Email

Comments

  1. Dolphin Member

    The link is not working, and a search in eBay brings the listing summary up in the results list, but clicking on that goes nowhere, so someone probably bought it now.

    As usual, the devil’s in the details, but if the details are as good as they seem in the few photos available, this was a bargain for the two cars and parts, especially if one of the engines has been rebuilt.

    • Dolphin Member

      BTW, the BIN price was $59,900 in the search results summary.

    • Jesse Staff

      We are just striking out today! The seller must have pulled the listing right after we featured it.

    • Horse Radish

      this may have to do with the seller collecting $22000 for the last car and the buyer is still awaiting delivery 3 weeks + later….
      Buyer beware…., check feedback, (66.5 %)

  2. austinalfa

    I had one 20 years ago that was a project that I flipped. The prices of parts was sky high compared to my otter interests at that time (MGA, TR4)

    these are beauts but are pigs on the road–at least mine was

  3. 88R107

    I’ve got a pair of 107’s you can buy for a lot less-))

  4. Dan in Danville

    If you’re interested, I’ve got an 86 560SL for sale. newer paint no hardtop with it. Great tires and runs great too. $8500. NADA has it worth double that or more. 160k miles on it.

    • 88R107

      Bought a Champagne/Palomino 88 560SL. 135,000 miles. 2 weeks later a 82 380 fell into my lap. Red/Palomino. Ones got to go and I am pretty sure its the 380.

  5. Dave Wright

    I have been a Mercedes gropy for 5 decades, have owned maby 50 of them from the top of the line cars to taxi cabs………….I have never understood the attraction to these cars when they get to this price leval. They are boring to drive, have terrible rust issues and are common. They are not even in the same league with my 59 220SE coupe that is the same money. They are like a dumb girl that is pretty……let hey get boring pretty quick. I just bought a really nice 58 220S sedan that has been in a barn for 30 years with orignal paint that polished right up, it started and ran with fuel and a battery, zero rust car that I like a lot……..but it was 500.00……..

    • Dolphin Member

      From my experience these have nothing to do with performance and everything to do with looks, style, relative rarity and now, $$ appreciation in the market. I had a female friend with one years ago when these were near-new and she loved it for the looks, style, rarity, and that 3-pointed star. I liked the looks and build quality, but everything else was underwhelming.

      • Dave Wright

        These cars came off the mass production line at Mercedes……they are a very common car, simply a plain pretty body built on a stock 180/190 sedan chassis, brakes and running gear. in other words, a taxi cab. Compare these with the photos of a 220s coupe or cabriolet for the same money…….there is no comparison, the coupes were hand built by the finest craftsmen with the finest materials, wood, leather, fine chrome, you can close the doors with a single finger, perfect body fit and they are faster than a 190………..

      • Dolphin Member

        You are right, Dave. I have no problem at all with your thoughts on the 190SL, and in fact I agree with them. I have never owned a 190SL, and I have no intention of ever owning one. When my lady friend had a 190SL way back when, I had a tri-carb Healey and was thrilled with it and VERY glad that it wasn’t a 190SL because the Healey would outperform the SL in every way. I would still make the same choice today.

        But she sure looked good in it. I think that’s exactly why M-B made the car. They needed sporting cars, and the convertibles, the 190SL, and especially the 300SL did the trick for them because people liked how they looked and they got lots of attention on the road and in car magazines. The racing SLs also got people’s attention, and then when people showed up at M-B showrooms they could have either the big one for big $$ or the smaller one for less $$. Even Mercedes Benz had to pay the bills, and they needed traffic in the showrooms.

        My point was, for someone who likes or wants 190SLs—-for whatever reason—-assuming this pair of cars check out, they look like a good deal in today’s appreciating market. But, personally, I have other ideas about how I would spend $60K this week than buying these two SLs. I hope I’ve cleared things up.

    • Horse Radish

      Dave Wright, I agree 100%
      Finnally somebody saying the way it is.
      The Ponton Coupes and Convs were long underpriced and a much nicer, better car in my opinion too.
      And there are 6 times that many 190SLs floating around including heaps of overpriced basket cases like these two….
      And at this price ($59 k), the seller seems to follow in Gullwing-Motors HUGE footprints..Good luck (well, not really)

  6. Art

    This listing is back on EBay as this item number 400597057203

    Listed one hour ago with a $59,000.00 BIN

    • Jesse Staff

      We have updated the links. Thanks Art!

  7. Art

    If you feel the need for the three pointed star in your garage this is the one to own.

    EBay listing number 141100666353

    A documented Elvis car. Just bring your own blue suede shoes….

    • Horse Radish

      I don’t now how many ‘Elvis 600s’ are out there.
      I know of 2 at least.
      One that the Classic center (Mercedes Benz Stuttgart) made a short ‘Docu’ off and this one from this nut case in Penn. This particular one’s price is climbing weekly according to the sellers money needs from what it seems…..
      and it’s been on and off E-bay for 3years plus.
      Still no buyer yet.

  8. Axel Caravias

    These MB have been around for a long time on ebay, they are NOT. a bargain, need a lot of work. believe me, even if you are a savvy restorer it will take a lot of money. They are very rust prone and being a unibody makes it harder to work on. Parts are very expensive too.
    Whoever is interested in a 190sl should look for the best example available for the budget. this ones are tough even for a skilled restorer. See 190sl has a very specific restoration procedure, I would say each one of these cars would take around 600 hours @$80/hr sums up $48k + parts.
    If anyone is interested there is an unmolested complete project from a friend of mine, matching numbers, located in CA which is an excellent candidate for restoration, even concourse restoration.

  9. Peter

    Don’t understand why these are the flavor of the month cars now. Mass produced, plentiful, heavy, and slow ( I owned one). Expensive to restore, and just not much fun to drive. A definite boulevard cruiser, and that’s it. I expect prices to come crashing down once some of the mad money chases these for a while. Just too many out there to support the price in increase IMO. For $200K ( the top price being paid), these are definitely NOT my choice.

  10. Mark E

    Damn! Neither one has clocks for the glob compartment! Those are unobtanium!! ^_^

    If I had a Leno sized budget it would be oh so tempting to restore one to perfect originality using the best parts from both and then make a nice restomod out of the other. Nothing that could not be undone with a little work, slip in a small block V8 and ready to cruise!

  11. Chris A.

    “Honey, I want one of those Gullwing Mercedes for Christmas, but I want a convertible”. So he got her a 190SL for driving back and forth to the country club. She didn’t know the difference between a 300 and 190SL anyway. But give Mercedes credit. The 190SL build quality back in the late 50’s was incredible. I had and still want a 220S or SE ponton to restore as it is the only hobby car for which I kept all the parts, owner and repair manuals knowing I’d want another one someday. They are that good. My 220S was a great car. I’d sure like to see Dave Wright’s recent buy 220S ponton. 190SL, no thanks.

  12. Dolphin Member

    I’ve been trying my best to understand the reaction that 190SLs bring out. I get that some people hate them, but other than the fact that they are limited to boulevard levels of performance, I’m having trouble understanding the level of hatred. So here are a few thoughts I came up with for anyone who might be interested.
    They’re common. Well, with almost 26,000 built over 9 years (2000+ /year) they are more common than some cars and less common than others.
    They rust. Yes, just like every other car made of metal, especially from the era when these were built.
    Parts are expensive. Welcome to the world of collector car parts pricing.
    Other Mercedes models were built of the finest materials by craftsmen, but 190SLs were built of, what? —-inferior materials by incompetent workers. Really?
    They were built on a conventional Mercedes chassis that other models also used. The 190SL used a conventional Mercedes chassis, and a Mercedes fan hates this because….? Even the 300SL used many parts from the 300 sedan, including the dreaded swing axles, because as Uhlenhaut said, M-B did not have the money to do otherwise. But the 300SL was their halo car so they used a space frame, and I read somewhere that M-B lost money on every one they made. Both SLs were developed in the early 1950s, not long after Germany got decimated in WW2. To me it’s amazing that any German car company could have produced the SLs at all back then.
    As for the 190SL’s body design, I think it’s one of the most attractive bodies ever built, just like the 300SL’s body is, but that doesn’t seem to be an issue.
    But price does seem to be an issue. Again, welcome to the world of collector cars. I remember when a decent driver 300SL would cost you a few thousand dollars, and when a used racing 250GTO could be had for $10K or even significantly less in one case that I remember from an ad in R&T back in the day. Now a top 300SL will be over $1 million, and the latest 250GTO sale, the Pappalardo car, was at $52 million. Heck, even a 275 NART Spyder with no racing history just sold for $27.5 million and it wasn’t even owned by Steve McQueen.
    190SLs are far, far below those numbers, but they are moving up, like just about every other collector car has been for years. I will never own one, but I do like how they look, and I think 190SL values are reasonable when you compare them with the prices that some other collector cars are bringing. BTW, just for the record, I think most collector cars are overpriced, but the market doesn’t give a hoot what I think.
    As always, your opinion might differ, which is just fine with me. Cheers.

  13. Dave Wright

    There is no hatred for them………they are simply extremely over priced compared with other better cars at there current price levels. They were common production line cars with little to recommend them.

  14. Dave Wright

    For a 60K project car I would be looking at a XK120, a solid Porsche 356, or my favorite a 220S cabriolet ………any of those cars will continue legitimate appreciation even if never finished. Mercedes built great cars directly after the war but they were expensive and did not sell well. A 53 220S cabriolet is something to behold to say nothing about the 300d cars. With the 190SL they were trying to move into a lower priced car to increase there market share and build in there newly built automated production line. Like the Speedster (Porsche) was built to compete with the MG TC series of cars.

  15. Axel Caravias

    To clarify some 190sl facts..
    – The 190sl birth was not Mercedes Benz idea, in fact was proposed and pushed by Max Hoffman who was MB dealer for North America, he was indeed the father of the 190sl, he even rejected the first designs. It was entirely designed and built for the American market.
    – It was never design as a sport car, it was conceived as a boulevard cruiser, so its performance for the time was quite good. Won’t be fair to compare a 190sl with some sport cars of the era.
    – While it wasn’t the pinnacle of quality, it was well built, and using what was available in the postwar Germany. Components were top notch and very well engineered. of course you could choose between the faux MB leather and real MB leather, as well as other “luxury” options. Was up to the buyer. Those were rapid times, were Europe was trying to catch up with the rest of the world and industry was blossoming at fast pace, hence details like overspray in the wheel arches.
    – Yes there were almost 25k produced, which is not a big number for a car produced in line, most of them are gone now, they went through that “piece-of-old-junk” period where no one wanted them and were left to rot, so there are not to much left in nice running conditions.
    – Rust issues were not different from other car makers in the 50s, average steel quality with non treatment at all, All of these cars were used and abused instead of weekend rides that were pampered and used only on sunny days. You name it, Alfa Romeo, Porsche, Ferrari, and all the British car makers…. all were (and are) rust prone.
    – One of the most important things is the strong supporting community for the 190sl, 190slgroup has been collecting information and facts for a very long time, so there is a huge database.
    – After all, a car that served for its purpose well and helped MB to set feet in America, their prices have been on the rise these last 10 years, and I would say that 70k-100k should get you a very well documented restored car.

    Axel Caravias

  16. Axel Caravias

    “where Europe…” sorry guys. Edit feature needed : )))

    Axel

  17. Axel Caravias

    @ Dave Wright… “they are simply extremely over priced compared with other better cars at there current price levels”

    Which ones for example?

    Axel Caravias

  18. Dave Wright

    See my last post………I bought a 53 XK120 drop head coupe 2 years ago for 3500.00. It was a basket but complete and numbers matching……..for 60k, how about a solid Porsche 356 cabriolet project, a 220S cabriolet project (for that price you could find a driver) , My buddy bought a 1965 330GT out of its garage of 20 years recently for 8,000. It was mostly in one piece but had a truck load of boxes with it……enclosed was a new never installed tan leather interior and new interior and exterior chrome………al these cars have huge upsides over time.

  19. Dolphin Member

    Dave,
    I have agreed that190SLs are ‘overpriced’, but then I think that pretty much all collector cars are overpriced. However, the market doesn’t care what I think, and the fact is prices continue to climb, even for project cars. If you would like to see what ‘the market’ thinks values are read Sports Car Market.

    I am sure that someone who is patient and willing to do the legwork, and who has ready cash and maybe a truck and car hauler to travel to pick up a car quickly can sometimes buy under market. But the fact is that most collector cars are not usually the kinds of bargains you are speaking of any more. Your examples are terrific bargains but are not typical today. And I will be very interested to hear the details of your project 356 Cabriolet purchase for the price of a comparable project 190SL purchase, because my sense is that decent project 356 Cabriolets are way more expensive than comparable project 190SLs nowadays.

    What I have been talking about are typical values, not cherry-picked ones that rarely come along anymore. I think the only basis for a useful discussion is typical prices today, not the rare bargains that seem to come along only when an owner decides to let a collector car go for a price that’s way under market, and ends up with the phone ringing off the hook as a result.

  20. Chris A.

    Both Dave and Dolphin have a point. The 190SL seems to benefit from the 300SL halo with 190SL values pushed upwards along with the 300SL’s, even if it is a faint connection. For “asking price” values that may not be realistic but are out there, take a look at the offerings of Gullwing Motors. On the other hand, I can put you in front of a running and older restoration of a 1930 Pierce Arrow Sedan in driveable/decent interior shape in the low $20K range. Dave, what does a $500 Mercedes Benz 220S sedan look like today? I paid $750 for mine 35 years ago and the rust repair and paint put it under water several times over before I finished the mechanical work. Sure wish i could do body work.

  21. Dave Wright

    We are talking project cars here……and these were not ancient prices and deals, a quick eBay search shows many driving projects starting the under 60K mark for 356, XK, high end Mercedes, cars. If you want to talk aincent prices, one day I will tell you about the 55 Porsche Speedster I bought from a Pocatello junk yard for 100.00 in 1979. I bought my 1958 220S here in my 5000 person hometown 2 weeks ago for 500.00……..

  22. Dave Wright

    I sent a photo of my 220S in to the editor as it looked before I laid down the cash……..maby he will post it.

  23. Dolphin Member

    Dave,

    my point for ‘talking ancient prices’ vs. current prices was that current collector car prices are still climbing, higher than many collectors thought possible not very long ago. That has a tendency to drag the prices of even the lesser cars up too. That means that by the time one is restored the price for a restored car will likely have moved higher. What that does is reduce the risk.

    And remember that the listing was for *two* SLs, so we’re talking half of the current $58K buy-it-now price or maybe less, for each, not $60K.

    BTW, you get my vote for the award for the best buy on a 220S, although the limited population where it was sold might have had something to do with that. Cheers and best of luck with the 220S resto.

  24. Axel Caravias

    Guys, even at $30k a piece these are not bargain. I will be in Miami this week so if anyone is really interested I can do a PPI.
    As stated before these cars have been for sale on ebay for at least a couple of years, It is curious that being so close to Port and in a place plaged with export agents they are still for sale. Seller’s feedback is no good but that is because of a recent sale, before that it was 100% so maybe there are other issues…
    Axel Caravias

  25. Dolphin Member

    Axel,

    Last night I was reading the results of the recent RM auction in Monterey. Two restored 300SLs sold for more than $1.4 million each, and a restored 190SL sold for $269,500. Prices for top 300SLs have about doubled in value in the last year or two.

    Here is the comment that went with the 190SL:
    “The most expensive 190SL I can recall but also the best. These have spiked of late, and this continues the trend. At these levels a restoration of this quality can be justified”.

    The bodies of the two 190SLs in the ebay listing don’t look like swiss cheese, so might not require herioc efforts to bring back. In fact they look a lot better than many neglected examples that come up for sale, but I had better remind you that, as I said at the very beginning, my comments only apply “if the details are as good as they seem in the few photos available” and if the cars check out. One of the cars was described as having a rebuilt engine, which if true makes the car more worthwhile.

    The RM 190SL has set a new price level for a perfect car, and with the collector market being what it is, high prices are leading to even higher prices. Whether you want to call these $29K (asking) SLs bargains or not, the fact is that 190SLs are moving up, making it more and more feasible to restore them. I think prices for good 190SLs will move even higher as time passes, but we will need to wait and see whether that happens.

  26. Dave Wright

    The irrational exuberance of the current market conditions can only be defended against by investing in true classics that will withstand the inevitable ballon bursting event that is in the future……….like real estate in the 90’s………

  27. Axel Caravias

    @Dolphin, agree on those trailer queen 100 points cars commanding top dollar, but also that extra effort from excellent restored driver to concours level takes a big additional chunk of money. Just to play it safe I would say that 100k is a good price for a very very nice restored (by a top notch 190sl restorer) 190sl.
    This is a very tricky engine to assembly, so I would not count on works done by PO.
    Sheetmetal for 190sl is expensive, kkk manufacturing carries all the parts, (i.e. front mask goes for almost 5k), but being unibody means that is not just bolting new fenders, in fact the replacements require some trimming, excellent welding skills and the 190sl restoration guide to do it properly. If done otherwise car loses its value immediately, it is very unlikely that a potential buyer would buy a 190sl without a PPI perform by a marque specialist.

    @Dave, collecting cars has always being irrational, we would like to believe (and that is what we try to make believe our wives), that we make rational decisions, but the truth is that we are moved by passion. That said so, markets are dynamic and flows with some kind of trend established by the buyers of the moment. 190sl, Alfas are the “in vogue”, hence the high prices.
    Since I have a 56 190sl I am happy that prices are going up, and for the lack of power is equipped with an original Judson supercharger so it has some 150 ponnies which are more than adequate for cruising.
    Axel Caravias

  28. KEITH wAHL

    I have a 190 sl and I am glad to ride on big brothers coat tails. They are underpowered and complicated but they have nice lines.. kind of a “mini-me-sl” I think I am doing better than the market to hold on to mine!

  29. Chris A.

    Back in the 60’s when I was restoring my 220S ponton, I bought a lot of parts used off of rusted 220S sedans sitting behind an independent MB repair shop in Rochester. The salt killed those cars very quickly. The coupes and cabriolets were very rare and the ones that came through Bernie’s shop had great interiors and were rusted out. Same with the 190SL’s. New parts and rust repair put you underwater very quickly. The comment about them being driven into the ground was accurate as the driver cars were horrible. Even a rust treatment like Ziebart didn’t help. When the Sting Rays and 230, 250 and 280SL’s hit the market, the 190’s were just a used car, expensive to fix, that nobody wanted..

    However I do recall one being raced at Watkins in the under 2 liter production class. I think the owner/driver was a George Morris and he was usually being lapped by the hot Alfas and Porsches by lap 4. Rolling chicane, but Geroge would always move over.

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks. Don't post your car for sale in the comments. Click here to get it featured on the homepage instead.

*

Notify me of new comments via email. Or subscribe without commenting.