The Pacific Grove Auction

Lot 13
1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster


Selling on Thursday

1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster

CHASSIS NO: 1210408500385

• Frame-up restoration; Striking color combination
• Mechanically sorted and ready to enjoy
• Legendary Mercedes-Benz engineering and sporting elegance


Inline four-cylinder engine, twin two-barrel Solex carburetors, four-speed manual transmission, double wishbone front and swing axle rear suspension, drum brakes


The Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster epitomizes the glamour of the mid-‘50s. With generous curves juxtaposed by striking lines of styling and chrome, this model was sexy enough to lure the likes of Grace Kelly, Ingrid Bergman and Ringo Starr. The 190SL has often been called the little sister to Mercedes 300SL Gullwing, which was released in the same year to great fanfare at the 1954 New York International Motor Sports Show. Although the 190SL lacked the Gullwing’s power under the hood and the famous upswing doors, it more than made up for that in aesthetic star power.

The creation of the 190SL is quite an interesting story. The history of European automobiles, particularly Porsche and Mercedes, has undersold the dizzying impact of Austrian-born, American importer, Max Hoffman. The man was partly responsible for the birth of Porsche’s 356A/1600 Speedster and Mercedes’ 300SL, as well as the 190SL. While the 300SL “Gullwing” would become the tęte de cuvee of Mercedes-Benz during its rein, Hoffman predicted the American market would yearn for a less expensive yet equally alluring roadster from Mercedes. As the project evolved, the 190SL purposefully retained the striking design features of the Gullwing, including the legendary eyebrows over the wheel wells, but it was actually constructed from a modified, 10-inch shortened version of the 180 sedan. The 190SL and the Gullwing also shared double wishbone front and rear single-pivot swing axle suspension, but there the similarities ended. The 190SL was equipped with an inline four-cylinder engine and twin Solex carburetors. Although the 190SL wasn’t destined to break any records on the racetrack, it resulted in a relatively affordable, sporty tourer with a body seductive enough to join the most iconic roadsters in the prestigious Mercedes canon.

To say that this bespoke 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190SL received a frame-up restoration just isn’t going far enough. With a true vision for aesthetics, the delightful yellow DB630 exterior highlights every curve while the tastefully upholstered, lush brown leather interior and matching carpets envelope the driver in sheer comfort and luxury. In short, this enchanting 190SL is arguably more impressive now than when it first rolled off the showroom floor, if such a thing is possible. And aye, it is.

Every detail was accounted for in this car’s professional, correct California restoration; the brightwork has been replaced and is period-correct, down to the beautiful hubcaps, which are offset by yellow accents. Under the hood, everything has been rebuilt and is running like new. Following restoration, the current owner wanted the carburetor just right and went to herculean lengths to have the carburetor rebuilt and certified by Todd Previtte, the top Mercedes carburetor specialist in the country. Today, this car runs and handles at the model’s apex. To truly realize the extent of the painstaking restoration work, one merely has to take a look at the immaculate, color-coordinated undercarriage. Every effort has been employed in returning this beauty to its original glory. Not only a reliable driver, this thoughtfully crafted 190SL is an example with enough beauty and style to steal Max Hoffman’s heart.

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