One-Family Owned California Classic: 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

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Sixty-eight years after it was introduced, the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL has aged very, very well for a senior citizen. Its classic, fluid lines and beautiful proportions still turn heads. From a styling perspective, the 190 SL does have a family resemblance to its brutish big brother, the 300 SL, but was positioned as more of a genteel touring roadster than a high- performance sports car (which explains why SL stands for Sports Light). Here’s one exceptional looking 1960 example of the iconic 190 SL that checks two big boxes: 1) It’s been in one family since new, and, 2) It’s a western car, having lived its entire life in Southern California. Today, this highly desirable 1960 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL is residing in Los Angeles and is for sale here on eBay. As of this writing, it had generated 29 bids but the $42,500 top bid hadn’t met the seller’s reserve.

If it’s known, I enjoy reading about a car’s story and background. The original owner must’ve been a romantic because he bought this 190 SL new and gave it to his wife as a Valentine’s Day gift back in 1960. Fourteen years later, it was sold to their daughter, Lori, who used it as a daily driver in college. Shortly after college, she needed a larger car and purchased a Mercedes 300 TD sedan. The 190 SL was then relegated to their garage in Malibu where it was covered and pampered and used as the couple’s “weekend car” for the next 46 years. Sadly, Lori passed away in 2018, and her husband felt it was time to sell the Mercedes as it had become harder to see their beloved car without her in it. It was sold to the current owner in 2019 who has kept it garaged, shown it at a few local car shows, and driven it less than 500 miles.

As far as descriptions, the roadster was repainted once to its original color (DB-050 White) either in the late ’70’s or early ’80’s. It’s described as a solid California car with the original floor pans (the seller shares there’s a very small hole on the front passenger floor pan above the floor). Based on 150 quality photos and one video, this is a solid-looking, impressive 190 SL from top to bottom and stem to stern. I can’t find fault with the car’s paint, chrome, trim, glass, color-matching hub caps, and black convertible top.

If I were selecting a car for my wife as a Valentine’s Day gift, I would’ve maybe opted for a red interior, but the 190 SL’s restored black leather-trimmed cabin was a great choice and looks gorgeous. The bucket seats with the curved backs, the large steering wheel, the metal and chrome dash with large dials, and the leather dash pad and door panels all say classic (and comfortable) European roadster. What an inviting interior.

Under that sloping front-hinged hood rests the original 1.9-liter inline four-cylinder engine with 150,200 miles showing on the odometer that’s paired to a 4-speed manual transmission. The seller shares that “the engine has been rebuilt with little mileage since, the original Solex dual carburetors were swapped out for Webers for dependable driving, and the original carburetors/intake/lines and air cleaners are boxed and come along with the sale.”  This is one of only 3,977 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL’s produced for the 1960 model year, which is why this roadster is both desirable and pricey. Hagerty’s values a #3 Good condition at $87,500, a #2 Excellent condition at $146,000, and a #1 Concours condition at a whopping $263,000. It’s recently had a bumper-to-bumper mechanical  inspection and servicing and is ready to be started up, driven away, and enjoyed by the next owner. Could it be you?

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Comments

  1. Greg B Greg BMember

    I feel bad for the owner in the video. He sold the car to basically a car flipper thinking that they would be the next caretaker of his families classic Mercedes Benz that he admired and took good care of. Hope the next owner takes good care of it and enjoys it as much as he did. By the way, I’ve always admired the 190 class from this era and nice ones can fetch 6 figures.

    Like 20
    • Grant

      Don’t feel too bad for this family, they did pretty well in life. Bought as a Valentines Day present? My wife is lucky to get roses and some halfway decent chocolate. What kid takes a 190 to college, and then needs something larger so gets another Mercedes? I am in awe of how some people are able to live their lives.

      Like 18
      • Greg

        some people make more money than you or I do statistically- if you lived in Malibu, those were 500000 $ homes in the 60s and then were 1000000 dollar house in the early 70’s- probably a entertainment industry guy or gal or both

        Like 3
      • Murray Arundell

        Jealousy is a curse….

        Like 8
  2. Frank Barrett

    “…more of a gentile touring roadster…” Errrm, did you mean “genteel”?

    The 190SL is one of the most over-rated cars ever, built to sell to 300SL wannabes. It had the looks but not the guts. The little four-banger had just three main bearings, and the dual carbs overwhelmed it. The car is heavy, and the swing-axle rear make it handle strangely. Even old-time Mercedes-Benz mechanics didn’t like to work on them. They also cost a fortune to restore. All this one has going for it is the story.

    Like 11
    • Ron Denny Ron DennyAuthor

      D’Oh! Thank you, Frank, for bringing that typo to my attention. Most genteel of you, sir.

      Like 5
    • jwaltb

      Secretary’s car then, secretary’s car now.

      Like 2
    • Grge

      Yes gentile touring is actually amusing. Shalom

      Like 0
    • Quidditas

      A wannabe sports car. Pretentious and most definitely a poseur’s car.

      The single axle at the back was simply diabolical. Thank goodness that it was so underpowered that it could not get itself into trouble.

      This is the car Ralf Nader should have written about, as unsafe as the Corvair.

      A sheep in wolf’s clothing.

      Like 1
  3. JohnfromSC

    Frank,

    Thank you. You said it perfectly. These are slugs and I think the only reason they rise in price is drag along from the 300SL, which also doesn’t excite me. An XK120 or XK140 Jag is cheaper, better in all respects and will leave this sniffing fumes. And the XK150 is a superior touring car. Go figure.

    Like 10
    • Grant

      Performance is not the primary reason to purchase a car like this.

      Like 13
      • Quidditas

        Definitely not. It is the snob value.

        Like 1
  4. Idaho190sl

    There sure are a lot of haters of the 190sl here. Every time one shows up there is no shortage of complaints. I’d bet most complainers never owned one.

    I’ve owned and driven mine since ’96. Yes, performance is underwhelming. I often quip that it is at its performance peak while parked at the curb. But as soon as I park at a cars and coffee event, I’ve drawn a bigger crowd than just about anything else

    Like 14
  5. Kami H

    Hi
    Is this 190Sl still available for sale?
    Please let me know.
    310 753 4840
    Thanks
    Kami

    Like 0
  6. leiniedude leiniedudeMember

    Ended:
    Apr 10, 2023 12:05:26 PDT
    Sold for:
    US $75,000.00

    Like 1
  7. TheOldRanger

    I’ve always liked the 1960s Mercedes, and this is one of my favorites. I wish I had the money to spend ($75K) for a 2-seater, and I’m hoping the buyer will appreciate this car.

    Like 2
  8. Glen Lochte

    I sold my 1960 190b sedan that I loved the styling and the performance to buy a 1956 190SL. I worked on both. I remember parking at Sears and seeing the SL out the glass entrance. I saw a man walking with his two little boys stop and show them around the car telling them about it. That was a kick.

    Like 4
  9. PEter K

    This is a nice car. however in my book its overpriced. The motor is a boat anchor. I would do an engine swap with an aluminum 260 hp motor and a comparable 5 speed tranny. Then drive the snot out of it.

    Like 1
  10. Robert Levins

    The last owner of this car paid $75,000.00. At least the new owner DIDN’ T pay $100,000.00 for it. I get the feeling that this is one of the first cars to show a decline in value. If you buy a classic car now, and in the future, you pretty much are going to be the “last owners”, unless you take a loss. Classic cars are fantastic – I’m addicted – hook, line and sinker. But what I won’t do is jeopardize my life just to have a classic car in the driveway. If I end up being the “last owner” of my next classic car, I’m surly not going to have a “life investment “ in it. Great article and good luck.

    Like 1
  11. Richard

    So many regrets. I grew up when these were affordable. And I knew, I KNEW they would become classics. Missed a few others along the way. Wish I still had my old 911. Sold it for a song.😢😢😢

    Like 3
  12. Rob Jay

    Like Richard I too remember when you could get these cheap. You could also get a pristine Austin Healey 3000 for 5K. Heavy sigh

    Like 1
  13. John

    I owned a red 190sl for 30 years.
    It was worth 20k and sat there until I sold it for $25k.
    They finally increased in value to absurd prices for a basically worthless slug of a car.
    At least I invested in apple stock with that money

    Like 1

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