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 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL photo

Image credits: © Mercedes-Benz.

1955 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

Mercedes-Benz produced the 190SL (SL for Super-Leicht or Sport-Leicht) two-door grand touring convertible from May of 1955 through February of 1963. It bore a similar resemblance to the exotic 300SL, with similar engineering with double wishbone suspensions at the front and swing axles at the rear. Unlike the 300 series cars, the 190SL used a monocoque construction and rested on a shortened version of the 'Ponton' Saloon (W121) platform. The all-new, SOHC, dry-sump, over-square four-cylinder engine displaced 1,897cc and produced 120 horsepower, giving it a maximum speed of 112 mph. It was backed by a four-speed manual gearbox operated by a short, floor-mounted lever. Steering was by recirculating ball and braking by power-assisted drums all-round.

While the 300SL was exotic, expensive, and exclusive, the 190SL was better suited for people of closer-to-average means. The 190SL was a stylistically scaled-down copy of the 300SL, with two fewer cylinders, with the added extras of a slight bulge in the rear fender contours, and a wider track.

Max Hoffman, Mercedes' representative in the United States, was the visionary behind the 190SL. He recognized the important role the 300 SL 'Gullwing' played in the hearts of American buyers, but its steep expense and coupe-only body style limited its appeal. Hoffman pressured Mercedes-Benz's upper management to build a simpler, less costly open model that was designed specifically for the United States and could appeal to a wider audience. The resulting 190 SL soon dominated the successful niche that existed for Mercedes-Benz in the United States and successfully combined stylish good looks, excellent road manners, and luxurious accommodations.

Production of the 190SL continued through 1963 with 25,881 examples built. Pricing in the United States was approximately $4,000 - the removable hardtop added an additional $295. A small third-passenger transverse seat was optional.


by Daniel Vaughan | Sep 2020

Related Reading : Mercedes-Benz SL-Class History

Max Hoffman was responsible for the sporty two-seat Mercedes-Benz 190SL sports car. The S represented Sports while the L meant Light or Sehr Leicht. With a curb weight of 2560 pounds, it was hardly light when compared with other vehicles in its class, some 500 through 1000 pounds less. It was however an excellent alternative to the higher-priced Mercedes-Benz 300SL. The gullwing-door 300SL was....
Continue Reading >>

1955 Vehicle Profiles

1955 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL vehicle information

Roadster

The 190SL is reminiscent of the 300 SL which sold alongside it from May of 1955 to February of 1963. Unlike its blood brother, some 25,881 were sold as opposed to less than 4,000 of the larger, more glamorous car. Also, unlike the 300 SL, its chassis....[continue reading]

1955 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL vehicle information

Roadster

This car was manufactured on August 25, 1955, and shipped to New York on September 6, 1955. The first owner sold it in 1961 with 39,600 miles on it, and the second owner kept the car 42 more years, during which time it had only traveled another two ....[continue reading]

Roadster
 
Roadster
 


Concepts by Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz Monthly Sales Volume

November 2019
33,721
October 2019
27,867
September 2019
27,433
August 2019
24,771
July 2019
24,612
May 2019
27,080
April 2019
22,949
March 2019
27,004
January 2019
22,507
Additional Sales Volume Data


Recent Vehicle Additions

Performance and Specification Comparison

Price Comparison

Model Year Production

#1#2#3Mercedes-Benz
1960Chevrolet (1,653,168)Ford (1,439,370)Toyota (1,068,321)122,684
1959Chevrolet (1,462,140)Ford (1,450,953)Volkswagen (575,407)108,440
1958Chevrolet (1,142,460)Ford (987,945)Volkswagen (451,526)99,209
1957Ford (1,676,449)Chevrolet (1,505,910)Plymouth (726,009)80,899
1956Chevrolet (1,567,117)Ford (1,408,478)Buick (572,024)69,601
1955Chevrolet (1,704,667)Ford (1,451,157)Buick (738,814)63,683
1954Ford (1,165,942)Chevrolet (1,143,561)Plymouth (463,148)63,683
1953Chevrolet (1,346,475)Ford (1,247,542)Plymouth (650,451)48,816
1952Chevrolet (818,142)Ford (671,733)Plymouth (396,000)36,824
1951Chevrolet (1,229,986)Ford (1,013,381)Plymouth (611,000)33,906
1950Chevrolet (1,498,590)Ford (1,208,912)Plymouth (610,954)33,906

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