Frankenbenz! Mercedes 190SL on SLK Frame

This one-off marriage of a rough but once-elegant Mercedes Benz 190SL body on a later Mercedes-Benz SLK frame needs a new owner to get it across the finish line, or should I say further out of the starting gate? The listing here on eBay features a Buy It Now price of $8900. Many people would calculate the market value of this car as follows:  Step 1:  Determine the cost of rusty and damaged 190 SL body. Step 2:  Subtract the time and modifications needed to undo modifications made during this project. However if you have the vision and skill to finish this Miami, Florida project car your way, chances are you can’t do much worse than what’s shown here, based on the metal-work used to shrink the headlight aperture anyway.

Wheelbase becomes a critical element when matching a body to another car’s frame, and you either get lucky or, more often, lengthen or shorten the mechanical bits to fit the body design. No profile view is shown, and the SLK wheelbase is about one inch longer than the SL so assume the worst. Judging from the poor shape of the 190SL body, we might assume that its original undercarriage returned to the earth, leaving the highly-desirable body atop a rusty orange stain behind someone’s barn.

Mercedes-Benz builds a sturdy unibody as evidenced by the hefty transmission tunnel on this little convertible. That’s a big plus in this case, as neither body nor the unibody “frame” in this case were engineered to endure the stresses of traversing roads as independent units. Only when securely fixed and properly braced would they once again become a competent vehicle.

A host of engines with four, six, and eight cylinders powered the popular SLK over the years, any of which should prove adequate for a car emulating a 1950s luxury sports car. Personally I wouldn’t consider the effort required to finish this project, well, at all, but especially not without a V8. Other fun facts about this project car include the lack of a title and a 190SL VIN tag that appears to have been recently attached with sheet-metal screws. Considering the iconic history of the 190SL, and the enormous distance left to cover before finishing this body swap, how do you value this Franken-classic?


WANTED 1974 Porsche 914 2.0” “In a barn for over 30 years.” Contact

WANTED 1983-1986 Pontiac Grand Prix Looking for (White) preferably Grand Prix – Bucket Seats – Console – Maroon interior – Original Contact

WANTED 1976-1980 Plymouth volare Looking for Dodge Aspen / Plymouth Volare donor car with good sheet metal for parts for my project Contact

Submit Your Want Ad


  1. AF

    Aw hell no!!!

  2. Doyler

    This is what happens when someone thinks they have a good idea.

  3. Beatnik Bedouin

    Having had considerable experience with 190 SLs (and consider them horrible, overrated junk), this might have been an improvement. However, I have to concur with Doyler… 100%

    • Dirk

      You’re not wrong there Beatnik, I have never been able to figure out what people see in them. Too bad the work being done here is of such poor quality, the car might have had potential.

      • Beatnik Bedouin

        It’s the three pointed star in the grille, Dirk, that’s the attraction.

        Given the choice of owning a 190 SL or a Borgward Isabella coupe, the latter would get my vote every time.

        The Bremen-built car offered superior performance and comfort, even though it’ll never match the MB heap for investor appeal. I think Daimler-Benz was relieved when Borgward went bust, and there were rumours at the time that it had a hand in doing so.

  4. Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

    Parts only.

  5. Adam Wright

    Anything is an upgrade to the driveability of the 190SL, I had one and it drove like a pregnant yak. I sold it and bought a Speedster.

    • fcs

      And yet every time a 190sl shows up here you post the same picture with the same tired complaint. Me thinks thou dost protest too much.

      I own one and will agree its at its performance peak parked at the curb. But I didn’t buy it to drive it. If I wanted performance a nice mini-van would do better. No, I am proud to own it simply for its appearance. There is very little else that looks as stylish parked at the curb.

      • Solosolo KEN TILLY Member

        Rest assured prospective MB buyers, the R107 280SL was not much better. If you have the opportunity/cash then rather go for a 350-500SL.

      • Adam Wright

        I’m just trying to save people from buying one and falling into the mis-conception that is so prevalent, that it is at least a spirited touring car, which is isn’t. Yes, they are pretty, but not much fun. People tend to think they are a watered down 300SL, they aren’t. If you had a decent sized collection I can see having one for the looks, but given that most guys have 1 or maybe 2 collector cars, I feel you should have something that is at lease enjoyable to drive.

      • Adam Wright

        And don’t get me wrong, I love Mercedes, I currently own two. A 99 C43 AMG and a 2012 E350 Cabriolet. Driving the C43 is terrifying, the raw power puts my 911 to shame. So Mercedes can be fun, the 190SL just isn’t.

  6. gbvette62

    Considering the popularity of Corvette resto-mods (dropping first, second and third generation Corvette bodies, on frames using C4, C5, C6 and even C7 running gear), the idea of matting modern MB running gear to a 190 SL is interesting. Unfortunately, the execution of this one so far, leaves a lot to be desired.

    Depending on what year the body is, the screws on the body tag, may be correct. In the 50’s, a lot of cars had their VIN tags attached with screws. Corvette VIN tags were attached with Phillip head screws, until part way through the 1960 model year. I not even sure that is a VIN tag, and not just a paint tag. As a teenager, I worked weekends for a local foreign car shop, and we saw a lot of those old MB’s. From what I remember, they had 5 or 6 different body, frame, paint, chassis and engine plates on them.

  7. Whippeteer

    Shouldn’t it be on a 4X4 frame from a Bronco instead? Or if you wanted to keep it MB, at least on a G-Wagon frame…

  8. Doug

    I saw a 190 SL that had been nicely done about 10 -12 years ago with a Japanese V8 – an Infiniti or Lexus, don’t recall which. From it’s appearance, I doubt it got much road time, probably just from the garage to the trailer, into the show area, and back. The black paint job must have cost at least $25 K , even back then.

  9. davew833

    The original R170 SLK, the frame of which this appears to be built on, only ever had an L4 or a V6. As the owner of a 2001 SLK, I’ve sometimes wondered if a V8 would fit.

  10. KvK

    I would do that project in a heart beat …… I think a 500 CLK engine would be just adequate. Maybe a Tremic behind it ….

  11. Richard

    Pieces of junk from day one. Had one for a week and worked on many others. Owners like to pretend they drive a 300sl. Would rather have a Fiat 600

Leave A Comment

RULES: No profanity, politics, or personal attacks.

Become a member to add images to your comments.


Keep me in the conversation via email. Or subscribe without commenting.