This Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster is a stunningly beautiful automobile and represents a rare opportunity to acquire a nicely restored example of this highly desirable model. It is in outstanding mechanical condition and is a delightful automobile to drive on an open road. In comparison to its peers, a 190SL is a more sophisticated sports car with excellent performance as well as better build quality and comfort. From an historic perspective, the 190SL also marks the beginning of a long line of highly successful Mercedes-Benz SL roadsters that continues to this day.
Factory production records confirm that this Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster was delivered to an unknown first owner on January 30, 1957. However, little is known about the ownership of this car until it was purchased in 1992 by Januez Tolcz of Jacksonville, Florida. Mr. Tolcz was a professional auto mechanic, certified by Mercedes-Benz, and a 190SL enthusiast. During his twenty-two year ownership, this automobile received the kind of attention that only a meticulous and knowledgeable expert can bring to his own automobile. Upon completion, this 190SL was used sparingly as a weekend driver and event participant. The factory records show that when delivered to its first owner this automobile was White DB50 with a Black interior. However at some point the car has been repainted in another correct 190SL color, Fire Engine Red (yes that is its name) DB 534, and the color of the leather interior has been changed to Parchment. The original factory hardtop is included and is the more graceful early design with the smaller rear window, and it is also painted Fire Engine Red. A canvas top is included with the automobile but is not presently useable. The top’s original wooden header and metal frame come with a supply of new canvas in the correct material and correct black color. However this top will need to be reassembled and installed, or a new complete top can readily be purchased after market for under $3,000. In just the past few months the current owner has had this 190SL gone through mechanically to bring it up to exceptional running condition. He has also had it beautifully repainted. Invoices in support of this work total $19,000. The result is an exceptionally attractive automobile, presented with even gaps and outstanding panel fit, and it runs every bit as well as it looks.
“The 190SL is tractable, dependable, even economical, and those who see it and own it love it.”Frank Barrett, Mercedes-Benz Buyers Guide, Motorbooks International, 1994.
Mercedes-Benz world premiered the prototype of its stunningly beautiful 190 SL Roadster alongside the 300 SL Gull Wing Coupe at the New York International Auto Show in February 1954. The 190SL marked the beginning of the long line of highly successful Mercedes-Benz SL Roadsters that continues to this day. The 190SL features a unit-body of steel construction with a subframe that supports the engine and front suspension. To reduce weight, aluminum is used extensively throughout including the doors, hood, trunk, dash and other parts. The engine is a 4-cylinder unit of 1897 cc displacement, and utilizes an overhead camshaft and twin sidedraft Solex carburetors. Suspension is independent all around and features A-arms and coil springs in front and the famous low-pivot swing axle with coil springs at the rear. Control of the 4-speed transmission is floor mounted, and braking is via Alfin drums with a vacuum booster.
The 190SL is an automobile of enormous beauty whether in roadster or coupe form and a delight to own and drive. In comparison to its peers, it is a more sophisticated sports car with better build quality and comfort and a bit more weight. Top speed of the 190SL was stated by Mercedes-Benz to be 110 mile per hour. If that performance was a bit less than what a buyer wanted, then the factory had the perfect solution for said buyer – the 300SL Coupe or Roadster. In 1955, the price of a 190SL was $5,100 compared to $6,800 for the 300SL Gull Wing. This small comparative difference reflected the factory’s belief that the 190SL was a substantial automobile that would prove to be very popular with their customers. Indeed the 190SL was very well received by the sporting public, and by the time production ended in 1963, a total of 25,881 units had been produced.
Mercedes-Benz 190SL values have increased steadily in recent years indicating that the allure of the wonderful 190SL endures to this day. Helping to propel these values has been the increase in values of 300 SL Gull Wing Coupes and Roadsters which, while having softened slightly in the past year, are still firmly above $1,000,000 for examples in average condition. A 190SL Roadster in excellent condition is in the $200,000 range today.
This Mercedes-Benz 190SL has been owned by knowledgeable enthusiasts for at least the past twenty-four years. It is breathtakingly beautiful from any angle and is in amazing mechanical condition as well. As a result, this delightful example of the 190SL Roadster is ready to serve its fortunate next owner very well indeed.John Kleen, Vintage Consultant