The Mercedes-Benz 190SL is a stunningly beautiful automobile which offers an extremely pure driving experience. In comparison to its peers, it is a more sophisticated sports car with better build quality and comfort. This 190SL Coupe was previously owned by a highly decorated US Navy Vice Admiral who commanded a submarine squadron in the Pacific in World War II and a division of heavy cruisers during the Korean Conflict. He and his wife took delivery of their new car at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Sindelfingen in 1962. Presented in all original and unrestored condition, this car presents the next owner with the choice of preserving a wonderful patina or restoring this very well presented automobile.
This 1962 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Coupe was purchased by Retired Vice Admiral William V. O’Regan as a gift for his wife, Louise. Admiral O’Regan was a decorated US Naval veteran who commanded a highly successful submarine squadron in the Pacific in World War II. During the Korean Conflict, Admiral O’Regan commanded a division of heavy cruisers off the coast of North Korea. For his service to the US Navy, Admiral O’Regan was awarded the Navy Cross and the Legion of Merit and his unit received the Presidential Unit Citation. He retired from the Navy in 1958. The O’Regans took delivery of their 190SL on June 20, 1962 at the Mercedes-Benz factory in Sindelfingen, West Germany. Over the next two months, they toured Germany, Austria and Italy. The 190SL was then driven to Antwerp, Belgium where it was loaded on the SS Northern Clipper and shipped to San Francisco. The O’Regans and their 190SL lived in Los Altos, California, and Admiral O’Regan appears to have done most of the driving. Following his retirement from the Navy in 1958, the Admiral took on a Professorship in the Math Department of a local college. His service to the Navy did not end then however as evidenced by the 190SL having a sticker on the left front bumper which granted access to Moffett Field Naval Air Station. The sticker, incidentally, contains three stars as befits a Vice Admiral. Son Joseph E. O’Regan of Sunnyvale, California inherited the car in 1979 following the death of his father. Joseph appears to have driven the car very little, and he parked it for good in his garage sometime in the mid-1980’s. This 190SL came to the attention of the consigner in 2015 and is presented in “garage find” condition. The car is original and unrestored and still retains its original paint (save for the right front fender) and leather interior. It is virtually without rust or damage and is numbers matching throughout. The odometer is operational and currently shows 54,866 miles. The engine turns freely, but no attempt has been made to start it since being discovered. There are multiple service stickers on the driver’s door jam, and the latest of these attest to service being scheduled for 37,000 miles.
Mercedes-Benz introduced the 190SL to the world in prototype form alongside the 300 SL Gull Wing Coupe at the New York Auto Show in February 1954. The 190SL marked the beginning of a 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 for the doors, hood, trunk, dash and several other parts. The engine is a 4-cylinder unit of 1897 cc displacement, and utilizes an overhead cam 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 a stunningly beautiful automobile 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. If performance was a bit less than what a buyer wanted, then Mercedes-Benz had the perfect solution for said buyer – the 300SL Coupe. Not surprisingly, 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.
This Mercedes-Benz 190SL car has been in the same family since new and includes ownership by a highly decorated US Navy Vice Admiral. The car is matching numbers throughout and comes with extensive original documentation. Values of these cars have increased steadily in recent years indicating that the allure of the beautiful 190SL endures to this day. With this increase in value and interest, finding an original example that has not been touched since new is, and will continue to be, quite a rare experience. This automobile presents a unique opportunity to purchase an original and unrestored example of the beautiful and highly collectable Mercedes-Benz 190SL Coupe. The thoughtful next owner of this car will have multiple options from which to choose including the choice of doing a complete and perfect restoration, the choice of restoring the mechanicals and preparing the original surfaces to a certain level or the choice of leaving the car in its current preserved state with its original patina and that US Navy three-star bumper sticker. For the fortunate next owner: The choice is yours.John Kleen, Vintage Consultant