'It proved to be fast and tireless, exhilarating to drive and was probably created with long distance, comfortable travel in mind...' - Autocar on the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL, 10th January 1956. As economic conditions improved after WW2 it became inevitable that Mercedes-Benz would return to the racetrack. The result was the superb 300 Super Leicht series of sports-racing cars that proved so successful in international competition. In 1954 the road-going 300 SL 'Gullwing' coupé was introduced, causing a sensation and setting new standards for high performance sports cars.
For those insufficiently wealthy to afford its hyper-expensive race-bred 300 SL, Mercedes-Benz offered the less exotic but no less refined 190 SL, which shared the same wheelbase as its big sister and broadly similar styling. Announced in 1954 and based on the 180 saloon whose all-independently-suspended running gear it retained, the 190 SL did not enter production until January 1955, the delay being caused by alterations aimed at strengthening the saloon's shortened platform to compensate for the open body's reduced stiffness. 'Very few new sports cars have been so eagerly awaited or so long in coming as the moderately priced SL version of the Mercedes-Benz,' observed Road & Track magazine.
Mounted on a detachable sub-frame together with the four-speed manual gearbox, front suspension, and steering machanism, the power unit was a 1,897cc overhead-camshaft four - the first such engine ever to feature in a Mercedes-Benz. Breathing through twin Solex downdraft carburettors, the M121 unit produced 105bhp DIN (120bhp SAE) at 5,700rpm, an output sufficient to propel the 190 SL to 100km/h (62mph) in 14.5 seconds and on to a top speed of 171km/h (106mph). The new model thus combined 100mph-plus performance with economical fuel consumption in the region of 25-30 miles per gallon.
With its all-synchromesh gearbox, servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes, and fully independent suspension, the 190 SL was better equipped than any of its rivals. Its advance suspension set-up meant that the 190 SL was more comfortable than any contemporary British sports car, and unlike the 180 saloon on which its mechanical components were based, it had a floor-mounted gearchange. Available as either a two-seater convertible or coupé, the 190 SL was a big hit in the USA where many of the slightly fewer than 26,000 produced between 1955 and 1963 found homes.
This beautiful 190 SL comes complete with its original plastic wallet containing the original owner's manual, service booklet, and parts catalogue. The service booklet states that the Mercedes was supplied via Black & White Garages (Harvington) Ltd; its first owner was a Mr Billington of Stratford-on-Avon, and the car was first registered '115 FWP'. There are numerous stamps in the booklet, and it is noted that the speedometer was changed in 1960 when the car had covered 30,000 miles. Carried out by Bournemouth Majestic Garage, the last regular service is dated 1971 (at 13,500 miles) while the final stamp (by Auto-Care, Poole, Dorset) is dated 2014 at 57,900 miles (87,900 actual miles).
It is understood that '115 FWP' was used up to 1978 when the owner became ill, and following their death in the early 1990s was inherited by their stepson. The latter subsequently despatched the car to Terry Van Der Zee (TT Racing Motors) in Blandford Forum, Dorset for a full no-expense-spared restoration, which was undertaken during 2006/2007 (bills on file). The Mercedes then went back into storage before being purchased in 2011 by the immediately preceding owner. The latter then had the car bare-metal re-sprayed and the interior re-trimmed in red leather. The current vendor purchased '115 FWP' in October 2014.
Described by its owner as in excellent condition, this exceptional Mercedes-Benz 190 SL is offered with a V5C Registration Certificate, MoT to October 2018, copy parts list, and a history file containing the aforementioned documentation and restoration invoices.