Rusty Benz: 1960 Mercedes 190SL

Rusty Mercedes 190SL

I’m not bashful when it comes to my love for oddball cars, but there are a few mainstream cars out there that I lust after just as much as any oddball. The Mercedes 190sl just happens to be one of those cars, so when I came across this one on eBay, it definitely got my blood pumping. That was until I took a closer look at it and discovered just how rough it is. The seller discovered it hiding behind a barn in Massachusetts, which could explain all the rust. Given the desirability of these Mercedes, I have no doubt someone will save it from the crusher, especially since the seller is offering it without a reserve. Take a look at this 1960 Mercedes 190sl and the auction here on eBay or find it in Medford, Massachusetts.

1960 Mercedes 190sl

The seller claims this car has seen just 8k miles since new, but to be honest I’m not sure the mileage really matters when there are rust holes large enough for me to stick my head in. On the upside, that massive hole in the front fender should make inspecting for structural issues a bit easier! It really is sad to see such a beautiful car in such terrible condition, although it is also quite fascinating. If the rust wasn’t so bad, I would say to leave the exterior alone, fix the structural issues, and drive it looking rough and ugly. Sadly, I think the rust has progressed past the point for that to even be an option. Plus a car like this really does deserve to be looking its best.

Mercedes 190sl Engine

The 190sl was one step down from the iconic 300sl, although looking at it you would think the 190sl was simply the drop-top version. In reality, they were quite different vehicles. They used similar suspension components, but the 300sl rode on a tubular chassis, while the 190sl was based on the monocoque chassis from the W121 saloon. The tubular chassis was not only more ridged, but also lighter, so it surely impacts the handling characteristics. The engines were also similar, except that the 190sl had two fewer cylinders and was carburetor. Without the extra cylinders and fuel injection system, power was cut nearly in half, making the 190sl far less sporting. On the upside this 4 cylinder engine was easier to maintain, although that is relative, as it was difficult to keep the twin Solex carburetors in sync.

Mercedes 190sl

While I’m sure many are drawn to the 190sl because of its similarities to the 300sl, it is actually its differences that appeal to me. The 300sl was a master piece of performance, but it comes at a significant cost. The chassis design required tall door sills, hence the gullwing doors, which makes entering and exiting a job best handled by an acrobat. And then of course you have the mechanical fuel injection system, which causes its own set of issues that if not properly addressed can lead to total engine failure. The 190sl might not have the 300’s performance, but it also doesn’t come with so many of the headaches. I’m not sure I would want to own this particular car, as it is going to require a massive and expensive restoration, but the 190sl is definitely on my list of dream cars. It will certainly be interesting to see what happens with this one though, as I doubt anyone would want to part out such a beautiful machine. If value weren’t an issue, which one would you rather have, the mighty and complicated 300sl or the meager and simple 190sl?

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Comments

  1. Bill Graham

    It’s a parts car. Nothing more.

  2. Steve

    That’s got to be the toughest 8140 miles I’ve ever seen on a car.

    Like 1
  3. Mike G.

    What a freakin waste!

  4. jim s

    it is at $9400 already! is it for parts or is someone going to restore it?

  5. Horse Radish

    “…but it is complete with no missing parts”

    Looking at it, I find that hard to believe.
    Among others, half of the front left fender is missing.
    And it might as well have 5 Miles on it, which is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT, when it LOOKS LIKE THAT !

    Prices are silly on these by now.
    BUT, I guess somebody will try to revive this….

  6. Dave

    This car has been on ebay 4 or 5 different times. I’ve seen it for sale in CT,MA, NY and NJ. Seller always has 0 sales or feedback. Beware of potential scam if thinking about bidding.

  7. MIke G

    Who drives a beautiful car like this for a short while and than simply decides to leave it out in the elements for 35 years?!!

    • Horse Radish

      Who can assume that this person planned only to drive this for while and then planned (or as you say “decides”) to leave it out for 35 years ?
      Obviously different factors played a role in this scenario and it would probably be a sad story to hear.

  8. Barry C

    It will probably buff right out and we’ll see it at Barrett Jackson :-)

  9. Mark E

    I’ve always liked the styling but if you listen to MB enthusiasts who have driven them, they have about as sporty handling characteristics as a LeSabre or Delta 88. Heavy, underpowered and not-so-great are what I’ve heard.

    As for the price, a nice one of these was worth as much as a decent Porsche 911S back in the late ’70s. (’61 190 = ’69 911S) Using that index, the 190s are just catching up to the 911s which means you’ll probably see even more crazy prices for rust bucket parts cars like this one in the future.

    • DT

      Not very fast,because they are heavy,they handle like they are on rails,they stick to the road like glue,I had a few of them and if they werent so expensive Id have one now,they are great cars and better than the other mercedes of the time,I never drove a 300sl,but the ones Ive riden were noisey and rode like a 1951 dodge pick up truck,I like 190sl’s

  10. Don Andreina

    Never really appealed to me. At the recent Motorclassica in Melbourne, I saw the only W127 220SL left in the world, using the same body as these.

    http://www.smh.com.au/executive-style/motors/the-little-champion-of-mighty-motorclassica-20141024-11b9rd.html

    • Richard V

      Thanks for including the link, very interesting read!

  11. That Guy

    Apparently this is the ultra-rare and desirable 190SL “lightweight.”

  12. Dolphin Member

    Perfect 190 SLs have been selling for $200 to $250K at high end auctions lately, so a car that’s all there conceivably could be restored and still not be under water. The buyer will need to get real lucky with the major castings and other hard parts if they are to be saved and reused. Most of the rest looks too far gone to keep this one afloat.

    And it looks more like hundreds of thousands as a daily driver through many salty Massachusetts winters than 8140 original miles. But at this point, who cares? As Horse Radish said, low miles mean nothing with a car that’s so far gone.

  13. MDchanic

    I’ve never driven a 190SL, but I owned a 190b (the same chassis, but with four doors and a roof on it) for a few years, and used it as my daily driver, and I absolutely loved that car.
    It was a tiny thing, with that unique German-car characteristic of being larger on the inside than it was on the outside – room for six in tall, upright seats that resembled unusually comfortable livingroom couches, with manual steering and brakes, and four on the column, with a 1.9l OHC four that pulled hard from 600 RPM all the way to 6,000, and, yes, as stated above, it rode like it was on rails, and took turns pretty darned well for a sedan that looked like it had been built in 1950. Oh, and: nearly 30mpg.
    I finally sold it when the rust got so bad that I decided it might be unsafe – I didn’t mind the headlights and tailights falling out when passing over large potholes (more Gorilla Hair stuck ’em back in!), or being able to see the road pass by when looking straight down (the Mercedes had wooden floorboards that fitted in above the metal floors, which had completely rotted away), but when I saw that the master cylinder was about to detach from its mountings under the floor, I saw the writing on the wall and let it go.

    I am shocked to learn that 190SLs are now selling in the quarter-million dollar range.

  14. Robert J

    I had an Irish friend who was a bit of a scoundrel. He sold one just like this on Ebay a couple of years ago. I saw it in person. It was a rotting hulk, but oh so lovely. It went for silly large dollars. I expect that this one will do the same. Worth every penny if you have it. Kudos to those who do and who are willing to restore one.

  15. rancho bella

    These cars are pretty and so slow, they can’t get out of their own way.

  16. Bryan Cohn

    I passed on a 190SL back in 1989 for $800, thinking it was nothing but an old, slow, rusty, bond filled undesirable sports car. How wrong I was…..

    With the prices on these exploding I bet this one gets restored. Low miles is this condition means nothing but resorted it oddly adds value.

    I must admit to liking the hardtop and it adds some usability and value.

    Its up to $12,995 with over 4 days to go. I bet it cracks $20k final sale price….

  17. jimmyrk3

    $12,995, WOW. 43 bids, 20 bidders. Like Dave said, buyer beware…

  18. Brad

    Elegant yard art. I wouldn’t know where to begin… but it surely wouldn’t be a concours restoration. This is probably one of the few examples you could get away with a full-on restomod, have a more fun car as a result, and lose very little sleep from guilt.

    Just make sure to pull out the “before” photos quickly, to avoid a public lynching by the angry mob of purists.

  19. retrogreg Member

    I hope whoever takes this on has a lot of money and more time – a pic of end game is attached for reference, greg

  20. William Henshaw

    I think the money here is in buying it and parting it out. Nothing is ever beyond restoration, it depends on your determination and the depth of your pockets. I’d rather be the pocket pilferer than the restorer.

  21. gunningbar

    I never thought much about these cars as a teenager (when they were new) it was a car for old golfers…nothing more….now they re 250 k?! $uckers…….think of the Great cars ..plural..THAT will buy! Morons have moved into this neighborhood too
    .

  22. Wes

    Who ever buys it will need what I have. Or better yet, wonder what the value of mine will be once the bidding stops on this one?

    • Dolphin Member

      Wes, for a guy who wants to enjoy life with a classy 190 SL for a reasonable cost instead of fixing endless rust at great expense, your SL body looks like the perfect answer. You must have had a crystal ball to have saved it until now.

      Your SL body + rebuilt hard parts from the rusty SL in this auction could make a terrific car at reasonable cost—-well, relative to $1/4 million at least.

  23. Ward Whittaker

    Rust In Peace

  24. Eli

    I owned one for almost 15 years and it gets me sick to think I sold it for $14,000 almost 14 years ago. It had no power, but was a very solid riding car and relatively comfortable. It had solid floors, original interior, hard top, and original webers with good paint and a great runner. I probably sold it short then by around $5,000 or more and keeping it all this time was not even an option for lack of garage space. They are now fetching (for a show piece) $200,000+ probably because the Gullwings are over a Million. Bottom line…..we can’t keep all the cars we ever owned!

    • Dolphin Member

      Eli,
      I sold a nice V12 Ferrari some decades ago for $30K. The latest auction price for that model is about $650K to $1 million depending on miles and condition.

      You’re right, we can’t keep all the cars we ever owned. Right now I’m having fun restoring a first-year low serial # car that I paid $3,900 for. Fun and satisfaction doesn’t necessarily cost a lot in the car hobby.

    • DT

      Webers were not original,they came with 2 pairs of Solex side drafts that looked like weber dcoes

    • Horse Radish

      Sorry, no such thing as original Webers.
      The 190Sl had sidedraft Solex carbs, nothing else original.

      Amazing when people own their cars and don’t know.

      Ooops, I guess I should have scrolled down, I am not the only one who caught that mistake…..

  25. Charles

    Unless it has been in the bottom of a salt water river, how does a car get in that condition? What a waste!

  26. Horse Radish

    Auction pulled with bids above $20k (one bid @ $25k).

    “No longer available”, ………until you see it on Ebay again.

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