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Mercedes-Benz 190SL (1955 - 1963)

Last updated 25 August 2013

Looks good and is beautifully made
Doesn't go as well as it looks; is probably over-priced in relation to its abilities


Although the Mercedes-Benz looks like a smaller version of the considerably more glamorous 300SL, underneath that beautiful styling with its blistered wheelarches and purposeful grille, the two cars couldn't have been more different. The 190 was based on a shortened version of the saloon 180, and was very conventional. Whereas the 300SL had a powerful six-cylinder engine, the 190 made do with twin carburettor version of the standard 1.9-litre overhead camshaft unit, producing an ordinary 105bhp. Gone also was the column gearchange – a more conventional floor-mounted gearlever was fitted to the 190SL.

Aimed at the American market, the 190SL was expensive for what it was and not particularly good to drive either, despite offering a firm ride from its all-round independent suspension. However, it was pretty and sold reasonably well for what it was – and although it was no competition car, its prices remain high today. The car received a slight facelift in 1955, and was fitted with servo-assisted brakes a year later. Mercedes-Benz also offered a coupé version (without gullwing doors, sadly) as well as a roadster with the option of a removable hardtop.

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