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SOLD – 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

  • 1959 Mercedes-Benz 190SL
  • Extensive history file
  • Long-term ownership in the USA
  • Recent restoration and recommissioning work by 190SL specialists

The Classic Motor Hub is proud to offer this Mercedes-Benz 190SL for sale. It is a car that we know well, having previously sold it to its most recent owner.

Built in 1959, it is one of 2398 Mercedes 190SLs that left the factory that year. The extensive history file that accompanies the car is proof of how well looked after it was by long-time custodian George Dubois, who was based in Texas and then Oregon, and ran a furniture company called Fabriquer duBois.

Mr Dubois contacted Mercedes-Benz of North America in May 1982 and received a reply informing him that the production card for chassis number 9500289 stated that his 190SL was supplied new in White Grey (paint code DB158) with a two-tone black and red interior.

Dubois retained all of the correspondence regarding his 190SL, plus receipts and even club newsletters. The owner’s manual, service book and parts catalogue are also included – testament to how well he looked after the car – and there are plenty of photographs of restoration work that was carried out during his ownership.

Dubois retained the 190SL until the mid-2000s, and by 2011 it had been exported to the UK, where it was given the registration 545 YUE. It was then the subject of a thorough recommissioning by renowned 190SL specialist Redcastle Classics in South Wales.

The Mercedes is now beautifully presented in its original exterior colour but with a red interior that suits it perfectly. It received further refinement in 2015, all of which is carefully documented in the history file, with the result that this is now a first-class example of this glamourous 1950s roadster.

Model history

Mercedes-Benz had returned to motor racing in 1952 with the W194 300SL, which won that year’s Le Mans 24 Hours and Carrera Panamericana. Further developments and upgrades were planned for 1953, but the company’s attention then shifted to Grand Prix racing and the development of the all-conquering W196 single-seater.

Over in America, however, influential distributor Max Hoffman could see the potential in a production version of the latest W198 300SL. The project was given the go-ahead after Hoffman placed an order for 1,000 cars and the iconic 300SL ‘Gullwing’ Coupé was unveiled at the New York Motor Show in February 1954.

Displayed alongside it was another new model that owed much to Hoffman. The Mercedes 190SL roadster shared the show-stopping style of its sibling but was intended to be a more affordable and accessible alternative. Rather than using the 300SL’s expensive spaceframe chassis, it was based upon the Type 180 unitary platform and went into full production in 1955.

The 1897cc four-cylinder unit was derived from the 300 SL’s ‘six’ and was assembled on its own line in the Mercedes factory. It produced 120bhp running on twin Solex carburettors, enough to propel the 190SL to more than 100mph. Suspension was via double wishbones at the front and swing axles at the rear, and such was the quality of the basic concept that it remained little-changed over the course of the next eight years.

A hardtop was offered as an optional extra, and by the time it reached the end of its production run in 1963, nearly 26,000 190 SLs had been built. Its blend of typically thorough Mercedes engineering and eye-catching styling had made it a hit – particularly in the crucial US market – and when Motor Sport editor Bill Boddy borrowed one from the factory, he noted that ‘everywhere in Germany admiring glances followed its swift progress.’

Never one to be easily impressed, Boddy also commended the build quality and the car’s long-distance cruising ability, and concluded that ‘in respect of the excellent performance from its 1.9-litre engine, its comfort, luxury and safe handling, this Mercedes-Benz 190SL ranks among the world’s outstanding cars.’

There was certainly plenty of substance to go with the unquestioned style, and today 190SLs are becoming increasingly sought-after by enthusiasts who recognise its all-round appeal.

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