Mercedes Benz 190SL (1954-1963)
The Mercedes-Benz 190SL has always had to live in the shadow of its big brother, the iconic 300SL. Both were at the 1954 New York Auto Show, the Mercedes 190SL was the less expensive alternative to the race bred cutting edge of the 300SL. It represented the state of the art for the time with its fuel injection and aluminum tubular space-frame construction from the racing circuit.
The 190SL was more of an around-town cruiser although it was a competent performer and wasn’t exactly fast,. It's underpinnings were based on the humble 180 “Ponton” saloon car, but shortened by about 20cm. It used the M121 engine, a four-cylinder that was fed by twin Solex carburetors to produce 120 hp. It also had an independent coil-spring suspension and drum brakes at both ends. At over 1,150kg, it was heavy compared to other roadsters, but made up for it with style and comfort. It came with a superior build quality but could only meander through the 0-60 time of 13 seconds and a quarter-mile time of 19.3 seconds
The 190SL may have oozed style, but it's lines and styling cues didn’t quite measure up to the 300SL’s larger, more exaggerated and striking proportions. Even still, the smaller SL offered all the glamour and style of a high-end European sports car. Back in 1960, Mercedes-Benz ran an advertisement that featured the late great movie actor Paul Newman, a red Mercedes 190SL and two bikini-clad ladies, read “A great many philosophers have said that the significance is the journey, not the destination – and sports car enthusiasts like going places, not getting places. My red Mercedes seems to sum it up perfectly.”
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