Power by Chevy: 1958 Mercedes 190SL


We will admit that we are fans of the 190SL, but as we’ve watched the values climb over the past months we have lost faith in ever being able to own one. So when we came across this 1958 Mercedes 190SL being offered here on eBay with no reserve, we got understandably excited. Sure its original motor has been swapped out for a Chevy V6 and the body and paint aren’t perfect, but it’s a 190SL with a starting bid of $4k and no reserve! Sadly, after seeing this V8 powered 190SL go for over $25k a few months back we are sure this one will go for considerable more than we would pay.


This V6 looks very out of place in this Mercedes engine bay and we doubt it offered any performance improvement over the original 1.9 liter straight four. We would guess that a previous owner was tired of the maintenance cost and got the idea to swap it out for a cheap to run and maintain Chevy motor. We don’t know if they were able to get it running or not, but it looks like everything is put together. The seller has the original transmission, but the original motor is long gone. In parts alone, this car is worth more then the starting bid of $4k.


  1. Rustowner

    Looks like a Buick odd-fire V6 to me (198 or 225, guessing 225 with that Duo-jet on there)? This is an…..errrrrrr, interesting swap for sure!

  2. That Guy

    Aaaand 45 minutes later it’s already over $12K.

  3. Jim-Bob

    That’s not a Chevy V6. It’s a early Buick V6, likely from a Special or Skylark. As far as it goes, I like this one for it’s lack of originality. I would probably swap in a more modern Japanese drivetrain from the 90’s, like a Nissan KA24DE/5 speed from a 240SX or even a 3 liter V6 from a pickup truck. The original engine was slow and pokey in this car anyways, so why not have a little fun? I would leave the exterior as-is except for finding a set of original dog dish hubcaps and maybe widening the stock wheels to accept more substantial rubber.

  4. John

    Waiting for the big money restoration guys to start freaking out about this one.
    I wonder if they know that some of us love old cars, but have ‘thinner’ wallets than they do?
    @Jim-Bob, any Nissan power train would be great. RB26DETT perhaps?

    • Jim-Bob

      If it would fit! An inline six may be a bit too long for this car. However… I have always wanted to put an RB in a 1965 Rambler American wagon, complete with the suspension and AWD system from a GTR. Why? Well, I want to build something no one else has ever built before. Besides, I really dig AMCs and Nissans (as well as Suzukis and Trabants…hmmm…Geo Metro/Trabi 601 mixup?) so it would be a natural fit for my eccentric soul.

  5. paul

    I don’t know about big$ resto guys but this just killed any value it might have had.

  6. Gary Fogg

    I myself am a Buick guy but I could think of some much more powerful candidates to swap in there.

  7. 88R107

    I’m a M-B guy and this just kills me.
    Even the seller refers to the guy who did the swap as an idiot.

  8. Patrick Calhoun

    If your going to screw around with a Buick put a Grand National mill in there and quit messing around…..

  9. OhioMark

    There’s a reason the original mill was replaced! Because it was soooo slow and
    not in line with the looks. Too bad the replacement motor was just as underpowered
    as the original.

  10. Doug M Member

    I like it! I would source some compatible mercedes motor and trans and go to work! Looks like fun to me…

  11. Dolphin Member

    I can’t see the Japanese engine swap idea being the way to go. Sure it’s possible, but that will guarantee that this car will remain greatly modified and float to the bottom of the value scale for the 190SL. With a high-revving Asian engine it doesn’t have the chassis to make use of all that 8000 RPM power like the S2000 chassis can. The swing axles will make sure of that. And you’d also want to convert to disk brakes, and…..

    With the strong values of these, the good looking body and interior should make this California car well worth putting back to the original configuration. The best buyer for this car would be someone who knows the SL and maybe has access to an engine for it. With the low mileage, apparently good condition, and clear title, this car should be put back to original and preserved.

  12. Fred

    @John… very true, i’m actually looking to start a new project soon, but unfortunately i’m part of the “thinner wallet” group and when i see people like “Alex Manos” inquiring about the car i know that the price will be out of my range…

    Very nice car, it would be a perfect candidate for a M104 C36 AMG engine swap maybe mated to a 5 speed…

  13. jim s

    now over $20k with more then 6 days to go. i like the idea of the AMG motor/ 5 speed swap, wonder what the story is on the BMW motor in one of the pictures on ebay. still a great find

    • 88R107

      Somebody is seeing past the engine swap.
      Looking at the big picture of what one of these things are worth.
      Bidders may have an engine for it or plan on cleaning it up, pulling that V-6 and flipping it without an engine.

  14. Gary Fogg

    A Buick 215 aluminum V8 would be a nice powerful easy fit. We are stuffing one in my 77 MGB.

  15. Shuperman

    That poor Buick…

  16. Dolphin Member

    From the large amount of interest and the obvious condition / value of this car, it will sell likely for more than most of us are thinking. I’m guessing it will be properly restored and sold by one of the top auction houses for around 1/4 of a million. A nice one was sold earlier this year at RM’s Amelia Island auction for $220K. With the interest going on for this, it’s already past the engine-swap category.

    • paul

      Good point but the Amelia car probably had matching #’s.

  17. Mackenzie guy

    I’m 63 years old, and I remember both the 300SL (my neighbor had a stunning ’61 gray convertible with red leather) and the 190SL. Among my car buddies the 190 always was, and still is, a bastard child, a bad joke… with simply no redeeming qualities unless of course you like the aesthetic, which IMHO paled by comparison not just to the 300SL, but to almost any sports car of the day. Like the difference between Goldie Hawn and Ruth Buzzi (as the bag lady). So I’m completely dumbfounded by the prices these cars are bringing at auction and I wish lots of luck to anyone who jumps into this project.

    • paul

      You think the prices of these are out of control how about the Porsche 356, now they are out of control & it isn’t like a hate the car, but the $’s these cars are bringing their is so much out their that are so much better.

    • Don Andreina

      Ruth Bazzi comparison is a bit harsh, but I agree with your sentiment. Once you’ve laid eyes on a 300SL, these will always look a bit lacking. Dolphin’s evocative early 60s story below got me smiling though. I’m picturing them both having a delightful little contretemps on some pre-Armco windy road.

  18. Gary Fogg

    The V6 in my 2002 CLK 320 would make it haul ass but the stand alone electronics to make it function in that car would make it dam near impossible if not just cost prohibitive.

  19. rancho bella

    I should change from Rancho Bella to Rip Van Rancho…………..apparently I’ve been asleep concerning the prices of these.
    When in the heck did this happen to a car that can’t get out of it’s own way?

    • Jim-Bob

      When quantitative easing imbued the moneyed set with the extra capital to go hog wild investing in anything and everything they could get their hands on before the money lost value. Yes, these are now selling for silly money and I expect this trend to continue for the near term as anything and everything with a hint of interesting qualities goes through the roof (look at art and investment grade real estate too and you’ll see the same trend). I wouldn’t be surprised to see W107s start to skyrocket in the next few years either. That is at least until the cheap money train finally comes to a screeching halt and collapses the value of all assets in a crash that will make 2007 look like a minor bump in the road. (I was not trying to be political here but rather was just giving what I think is an honest answer to the question at hand.)

      • Don Andreina

        …at which point everything of any value gets hoovered into an emerging economy classics showroom.

  20. Dolphin Member

    A lot of people had trouble seeing the 190SL as a real sportscar back when they were new or as a collectible now. IMHO, the values now don’t have much to do with performance and have everything to do with ’50s style, Mercedes build quality, investment, and sometimes just parking money. Concours examples are rising in value fast, and are one of the few stylish, high quality ’50s sportscars that remain affordable compared to lots of other cars made by the top sports/GT car makers back then. And if you can have one in your garage and on the road instead of a small pile of stock certificates, and also be pretty certain that it will yield you a profit in a few years when you sell, why not?

    I knew a young woman back in the early ’60s who sold her near-new Bugeye Sprite for a used 190SL. Back then I was driving a Tri-carb Healey, and her 190SL was probably the last sportscar that I would have considered spending good money on. But…….she stood out among all the other women around, she was happy, and she sure looked good in it. And she could have cared less what the car’s 0 – 60 time was.

  21. Horse Radish

    Everybody is so worried about the engine.
    The nice thing here is a (probably) very rust free chassis and undercarriage , straight body and a (later version) hardtop with the big back window (which saved the interior from the ages for the better part of the last half century !!).
    I would probably do a restomod with a Cosworth 16 valve 2.5 liter 4 cylinder from a 190E16V or even newer motor to update…But it’s not too late to put it all back.
    Motors (even the correct original kind) and such are much more abundant than a clean rustfree body !

    • paul

      True , what ever car you want, it must have solid bones .
      As for swapping out motors it just opens up too many cans of worms, is the suspension , drive shaft, U joint , chassis/ uni body , gearbox/ trans , differential & all mounting points for all this , up to the task of the added torque.

  22. Foxxy

    !00% complete, except for the eng, and trans. I love that

  23. 88R107

    @ $30,100 with a few hours left.

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