1955 Mercedes-Benz SL 190
After the full strength sports car that was the 300SL Gullwing of 1954, the 190 SL launched the following year. Sharing many of the Gullwings styling features, it was designed to be more of a gentle GT cruiser, and rather than the 300SLs three-litre, six-cylinder engine, it was given four cylinders, 1.9-litres and 104bhp. With Pontoon saloon underpinnings, manufacturing was much simpler and cheaper. Although a modest performer, the 190 SL proved to be very popular, especially in the United States, with close on 26,000 units sold in its eight year run.
Some classic cars are of such quality that even before you've reached them you know that looking for faults will be a futile exercise. This car is just such a case. The chrome gleams like new, the paint finish is probably better than could be achieved on a 1955 production line, and the panel fit is what you might call factory-plus-uniform gaps and not a line out of place.
We are informed by the vendor that this particular 190 SL roadster is not only a matching numbers car but is in fact a very early 1955 example and was the 729th car to be built. As such has some unique parts that were unavailable on later cars, namely the dash is of a two-part early design, the seats are the same as a Gullwing, there is no clock in the glovebox, no chrome in front of the rear wheel arches or on the eyebrows above the wheels, the drainage location at the top of the bonnet is different and the differential drain plug is in the 1955 location. These particular items are of important note due to the rarity of these early cars.
The vendor gave this car to Redcastle Classics in Caerphilly who over the years have become associated as one of the leading restorers of 190 SL Mercedes-Benz in the UK. From 2010 to September 2012 ‘TLB 8' has been the subject of a complete no expense spared rotisserie restoration and the result is truly staggering. It is reported that everything you look behind or beneath brings to light more shiny plated nuts, bolts and screw heads. Lift the bonnet and you get a similar wow factor. All the proper factory fittings are there but to better than showroom standards, and to finish it off the whole car has been waxoyled for preservation in years to come. The folding hood is new and is complemented by a small window hard top which makes this car useable in all weathers (although we can't think why anybody would want to take this beautiful car out in the rain).
The work that has been completed by Redcastle Classics has been recorded photographically at every stage and is available for viewing prior to auction. Since the restoration was completed in September 2012 the car has only covered some 1,500 miles, and we are informed that the mileage currently shows some 76,000 miles. Internally everything looks beautiful, both seats have been attractively upholstered and barely show even so much as a crease.
The vendor informs us that the engine fires first time from cold and ticks over beautifully. The car was originally fitted with a pair of twin choke solex carbs but these have been replaced with more reliable and better performing twin choke Webers (please note the original carbs are provided for posterity purposes). Acceleration is reported to be good and gear changes light and precise, ride is supple but firm with absolutely no clonks from the chassis, a well-controlled ride and no slop in the steering. The brakes are effective, reassuring and have excellent bite.
Sold with a new MoT and its registration number of ‘TLB 8', be sure to take your test drive with the windows down and your Persol shades on. Near perfect form and diverse functionality means the 190 SL can still make anyone's list of the ultimate classic, and you'll look effortlessly cool too.