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Viewing is Essential: 1959 Mercedes 190SL


We can all accept that sometimes economic forces well outside of our control demand that basketcase cars be restored, even against what sound judgement would decree reasonable. However, there are moments when I think if you’re foolish enough to believe you’ll ever get your money out of a genuine frightpig of a car, you deserve to lose your shirt. Check out this 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL here on eBay UK, an icon of the bubble car era that, at another time, would have been pillaged for parts and sent to scrap long ago. 

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The seller says “viewing is essential” in a somewhat thinly-veiled admission that this Mercedes cabriolet is rough beyond even your darkest expectations. Sure, restored and survivor examples are fetching bigger numbers than ever before, but that doesn’t mean every boned drophead deserves to be saved. Truly impressive levels of rot and metal fatigue are evident on this car, which looks to have spent some time at the bottom of a lagoon before being extricated for public viewing.

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The interior is the best part about the car, as the dash and door panels look fairly solid. The gauges look like they could live on in another restoration candidate as well. Beyond that, I’m not sure what this 190SL will offer anyone beyond a headache and a lawn ornament your neighbors will quickly protest. It does come with the engine and gearbox, but between the mechanical bits and the aforementioned interior, I’m not sure I see a car worth over $45,000 US per the seller’s £30,000 asking price.

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Even the bumpers have rotted away, along with large expanses of the trunk lid. The fact that the number plate practically blends in with the bodywork is some indication as to how long this Mercedes has been sitting. I’m not sure which is worst, this example here or the rotted out 600 in Florida we featured a few days ago. At least you’ll save on shipping with that one. Does this 190SL deserve to be brought back, given the current demand for these baby 300SL’s?



  1. Jamie Palmer Jamie Staff

    As a forever champion of bringing lost causes back to life…this is the lostest cause I’ve ever seen. No way, no how. Ever. Sorry. Taps. Sayonara.

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    • AMX Brian

      Still more intact that the Dodge Daytona from Graveyard Cars

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  2. cj32769

    This viewing should have been “closed casket” I’m surprised they got the “remains” onto a lift.

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  3. Joe Howell

    $imple restoration, unscrew the shifter knob, then screw another 190 to it. Parts car only I’d say, somehow the gauges look ok but everything else looks to be rusting junk. Save the data plate to build a new car with replacement everything. I wonder what the drive train looks like? No pictures of it on the listing.

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  4. audifan

    Even a classic Mercedes has to die eventually and go to the classic car cemetery. Rest in peace 190 SL.

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  5. That Guy

    I’m genuinely astonished it didn’t collapse when they put it on the lift.

    I think restoring this car would involve fabricating an entire body from scratch. There truly doesn’t seem to be any actual metal left, except the bizarrely clean-looking dash.

    With the prices these things are getting now, that might actually be a viable idea.

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  6. Dave Wright

    I think this might wind up in an Eastern European shop rebuilt. They have good quality fabricators that work for less than 20.00 an hour and with the prices of these approaching the stratosphere, it just might get done. I think entry price is rediculious but this is one of my less favorite Mercedes. Like That Guy says, it will require a new body but we have been doing that on 356’s for a long time now.

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  7. Julles

    Asking $45,000 for a dash, door panels and a vin is obscene.

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  8. Matt

    As much money as these things are fetching, anybody who’s driven one would tell you that this one stands a chance at winning a downhill drag race with a running example.. SLOW.

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  9. L.M.K.

    Shame when they let them rot to this extent.

    But somebody will do ‘something’ with it….

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  10. alan

    Time to sell mt backyard 190SL.

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  11. wuzjeepnowsaab

    Wow. Did they find this at the bottom of the Thames?

    Talk about a “See Where They Rust” feature

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  12. onebugatti

    I heard from my restorer that a 190SL is harder to restore than a Gullwing. Figure a $150’000 bill on this job ( and justify it only if it’s papa’s first classic car gone missing and found by the only son ). In this later reasoning, better to be fatherless. Looking at this heap of suffering in the making , I refer to one wise man : A fool and his money are soon parted.

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  13. Alan (Michigan)

    Turn out the lights, the party’s over!

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    • Hoos Member

      This being the car I’ve always wanted, I sadly must agree. Stick a fork in it. The glove box clock is all that’s worth saving.

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  14. jimbosidecar

    I never thought these cars were worth anything in good condition, never mind this one. Slow, doesn’t handle, not really a sports car, not much of anything

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  15. Graham

    Worth every penny of $45K….beautifully preserved….in salt water?
    The seller is delusional!

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  16. Van

    “Bring a Dust Pan”
    I don’t know guys, it looks better than my wife’s D-type.
    We still wouldn’t trade if the 190 came with all the spare parts, bucket of paint, welding rods, new tires and lots of aspirin.
    Oh and bandaid’s.

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  17. Chris A.

    Per OneBugatti: “A fool and his money are soon spotted”. Then “parted”. $45K is a bit much for 5 instruments, a mirror and a shift knob. Unless the shift knob is the rare Rudolph Uhlenhaut engraved version. The 57 years have been very unkind to this mess.

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  18. Bill McCoskey Bill McCoskey Member

    While this is a VERY rare RHD version, the best course of action is to jack up the vin number, & install a replacement vehicle underneath it! Then switch all the RHD parts over. The car is worth substantially more in RHD countries [like Japan], But bring it to north America, and it loses half it’s value to Americans.

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  19. PRA4SNW PRA4SNW Member

    Next Stop: Beverly Hills Car Club.

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  20. James Scott

    Judging from the way that car looks I think the person selling it does meth

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  21. Pete

    I can tell you why it looks like that. During winter in most of Europe they treat the roads with Salt and Cattle urine for deicing. With out washing all that off regularly this is what you get. If you ever manage to go through germany and view some junk yards you will notice that the bodies are rusted out with perfect interiors and drive trains. There inspections are brutal compared to those in the USA. You cannot have more than X amount of square CM of exposed rust through on the car body. This Benz if you could buy it for say 4500 could be sent to Mercedes Classic restoration shop and you will get back a factory certified new 190SL. yeah it will cost at least $100,000 probably more. They will completely disassemble the car and save every serviceable part they can. Then replace everything that can’t. If this car belonged to King Georges american wife or the Earl of Locksley or a European movie star at some point and you have docs and pics to prove it then it might be worth all that effort. Other wise it is fecal matter with a few parts left over.

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  22. MikeK

    I think I need a tetanus shot just from looking at that thing.

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  23. St. Ramone de V8

    Sad to see such a beautiful car become a pile of dust. But, hey, the responses have been entertaining don’t you think. Everyone has been correct, in that this poor old gal is done!

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  24. Daniel G Rawinsky

    See my note in comments for one of the other 190SL’s. In Europe, and the area’s in the USA that get lots of snow and use salt to melt the ice cars used to start to rust in just a few years. Think 1970’s GM cars which had rust holes around the rear windows. Those same cars here in the south also rusted through. The new cars today have better rust protection and lots of plastic parts and they don’t get rusty, at least not in the southern states and the desert states. Where the older cars rusted through from just a scratch the newer sheet metal heal themselves from scratches. My father bought my 190SL, in 1963, from a widow who could not drive standard shift. The car was garaged until she decided to sell it. It looked show room perfect, 23,000 miles. My father had a studio in the Bronx, across from one of the cities garbage truck garages. In the winter they used the garbage trucks to spread salt on the roads, lots of salt spilled onto the street. My father parked the 190SL in the street and within a couple of years the car was a rust bucket. He liked to keep the top open, the red leather was ruined shortly. I bought the car from him for $400.00 in 1967. New the car sold for $5,600.00. It was titled as a 1959 but when I looked up the VIN I found it was actually a 1956. The 190SL just did not sell very well and MB dealers had them sitting on the lots for years. If someone has $4,500.00 or $45,000.00 to throw away on this scrap metal They must not be hurting for cash so let them pay the price for the kings new clothing. What else can wealthy people do with their money?

    Like 0

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