New markets began to open up for Mercedes-Benz in the post-war period as the company grew stronger and stronger. The popularity of the 300 SL Gullwing and roadsters brought new customers and attention to the firm. Many potential buyers could not afford the expensive race proven 300 series cars. The dramatic styling of the 300SL Roadsters was attracting a lot of interest and in order to capitalize on this attention a smaller, less expensive version of the 300SL was created.
Named the 190SL, it took many styling cues from the larger 300SL. A prototype was first shown at the 1954 New York Auto Show. The 190SL was sold alongside the faster, more expensive 300SL. Many engineering details were similar such as the fully independent suspension, both cars having double wishbone suspensions at the front and swing axles at the rear. However, the 190SL did not use the 300SL's purpose-built tubular space frame W198 platform, but was built on a shortened platform that was modified from the W121 small sedan.
During its first years of production the 190SL was available as a sports-racing model with small Plexiglas windshield and Spartan one-piece leather covered bucket seats and aluminum doors. The four cylinder engine was not competitive. Available as a convertible or with a removable hardtop, 25,881 cars were produced of which 20,636 were for the export market.
This 190SL Convertible is a freshly restored example, finished in silver with a red interior.