Two Mercedes-Benz 190SL Cars, One Price Gap

Cymon Taylor ©2014, courtesy of RM Auctions
Cymon Taylor ©2014, courtesy of RM Auctions

Production of the Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster can be credited to New York importer Max Hoffman, who foresaw that the competition success of the 300SL Gullwing would translate into something that he could easily sell in America.

The 190SL was first displayed as a show car at New York in 1954.

This high-quality, two-seat roadster was based upon a shortened 180 Ponton chassis and came with 105 horsepower from its 1,897-cc, 4-cylinder SOHC engine on twin Solex carburetors. The car featured an optional hard top. A production version was launched at Geneva in 1955, retailing for $3,998 with a soft top or $4,295 with an additional removable hard top. That was little more than half the cost of the 300SL and, as such, nearly eight times as many 190SLs were sold in the next eight years.

Ultimately, 25,881 Mercedes-Benz 190SLs were produced. That works out to 270 cars every month — with 70% being delivered to the U.S. — which was close to the goal that Hoffman had promised Daimler-Benz executives.

The baby SL is a regular fixture at auctions, and in May 2014, two 190SLs sold at auction in mainland Europe — at very different prices.

Let’s take a look at the sales and figure out how this happened.

The RM Auctions 190SL

1959 chassis 12104010014912

Paul Hardiman

Paul Hardiman - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Paul is descended from engineers and horse thieves, so he naturally gravitated toward the old-car marketplace and still finds fascination in the simpler things in life: looking for spot-weld dimples under an E-type tail, or counting the head-studs on a supposed Mini-Cooper engine. His motoring heroes are Roger Clark, Burt Levy, Henry Royce and Smokey Yunick — and all he wants for next Christmas is an Alvis Stalwart complete with picnic table in the back and a lake big enough to play in.

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