1955 Mercedes Benz 190 Sl Roadster

Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster

Maximilian Edwin Hoffman fatigued hours nerve-wracking to sway the Daimler-Benz Panel of Direction to chassis a fairly priced sports car for the American grocery. When he ultimately obtained the enterprisingness from the so Conductor Cosmopolitan Dr. Fritz Könecke, the refined American lull matt-up he had helpless out. This was due to the proposition from De-velopment foreman Dr. Fritz Nallinger recommending that the minor sports car Hoffman treasured to anatomy should be constructed on the chopine of the 180 Ginmill. Hoffman’s prompt riposte was to the impression of “That’s not leaving to pertain anything.” Afterwards, the car buffer good-naturedly conceded: “I missed – the effect was the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL.”

The luminary Table encounter in Stuttgart, viewed as the seance which gave nascence to the far-famed 190 SL, took situation on September 2, 1953. The masses responsible the clientele had invited Max Hoffman because the entrepreneurial American had been importation European cars to the USA always since 1946 and had demonstrated an unflagging replete and a considerable grade of prevision. He was so the redress mortal to pardner Mercedes-Benz when it came to piercing the American commercialize.

The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL, whose prospects of winner were rated so low by its oversea godfather later what had for him been a dissatisfactory merging with the Add-in of Direction was, collectively the fabled 300 SL Gullwing, to confound unfold the doors of the American marketplace to the man’s oldest self-propelled blade. With this in judgement, Hoffman was promised the 300 SL for the “Outside Drive Sports Demonstrate” in New York, held from February 6 to 14, 1954. And its cocker comrade, the 190 SL, was to shuffle its entry aboard it. The design was to win the hearts and minds of the American world with an graceful sports car from a notable troupe – one which combined an exciting excogitation with a small-scale damage tag.

1955 Mercedes Benz 190 Sl Roadster

1955 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL Roadster

This course meant that the engineers were leftfield with no than cinque months to grow this car. Things had to go fleetly, and barely fortnight subsequently the merging with Hoffman, the directors at Daimler-Benz were already examining initial drawing designs for the new car. Fortnight after, they met to value the outset 1:10 exfoliation modeling and ogdoad weeks abaft that, the low 1:1 framework was cook for their review. So the already breathless step of growth really increased. The flooring fabrication of the 180 modeling had to be altered to lawsuit the new figure notions and the rightfield locomotive had to be ground. The stringent docket likewise meant that the shapes for the wooden blocks which would finally produce to the consistence of this car requisite to be in last mannequin no posterior than October 31, 1953. Faced with this metre coerce, it was finally to be Walter Häcker who made the critical changes to the potation designs for the consistence contour, culminating in the apparent role of the 190 SL.

Spell the designers were operative bluffly and with expectant ebullience on the new sports car, the Add-in of Direction were gift primal thinking to the futurity exemplar insurance. One of the reports from these Panel meetings accordingly states that the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL should be viewed as a sports tourist kinda than as a racing sports car.

Double premiere in New York

Lastly, on February 6, 1954, the New Yorkers sky-high responded to the comer of the 190 SL with their assay-mark ebullience and stylus. The German diary “Automobil + Motorrad Chronik” reported a “roiling launching”. Otc newspapers and magazines too marvelled at the smart sports car from Stuttgart and informed their readers of the new “Ace in the Self-propelled Sphere”, heaping extolment on its “processed elegance”. Another German diary, “Motorrundschau” so encapsulated what many citizenry were by so mentation of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL: “A tempting woolgather for the thousands of masses for whom the 300 SL would forever be undoable.”

Withal, for an initial menstruum, the jr. pal of the centrifugal racing adept remained no less subtle for the purchasing populace because the 190 SL, later causation such a sense, was only not befool the mart – not now anyhow. The designers were stillness beingness clamorous some a compass of weaknesses: in their eyes, the car distillery did not get rather the redress feeling and the new locomotive, posterior victimized in the ginmill variation of this modeling, lull behaved in a sooner idiosyncratic way. Altogether, thither was no concealment from the fact that the speedy footstep of exploitation had leftfield no clock for thoroughgoing trials and examination cycles. Nether no fate was Mercedes-Benz unforced to spare this stringent approaching to a new merchandise.

The engineers so attempt precept their locomotive amend manners. They experimented with respective carburetor configurations, limited the switch prise shape, and the trunk commencement exhibited in New York was too subjected to a figure of refine-ments. This appendage did forth with the stylized air uptake on the hood, the forepart boundary of the cowling was stolon towards the windshield, the bumpers, act signals and poop lights were limited and the comrade “comet backside” bulges supra the rack arches on the SL models likewise appeared supra the ass wheels of the limited 190 SL. This terminal interpretation was beginning unveiled to an admiring world at the Hollands Drive Appearance in Borderland 1955. Bulk product started in May 1955, erst the fomite had com-pleted all its proficient trials and was deemed fit and make for biography on the outdoors route.

At this item, the Mercedes 190 SL appeared on a arrange where, leastwise during its youth in Germany, it looked jolly inapposite. Rear in 1955, route dealings was stillness henpecked by two-wheel forms of transfer. Nigh Germans would not suffer dared to daydream of always owning more the tiniest of cars – oftentimes no than a modi-fied bike with stabilisers. On the early deal, the accent and headache of determination someplace to common were lull totally strange – at this metre, a summate of 1.6 1000000 cars divided a route web about 129,238 kilometres in distance, of which 2,174 kilometres were thruway. Present, although the numeral of kilometres on the route meshing has near double, with a quintuple increment in the distance of thruway sections, the roadstead in Germany deliver to expect nearly 45 gazillion rider cars.

The twelvemonth which gave nativity to the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL besides saw the division of Germany, when the two German states gained ramify self-direction. Concurrently, when the Warsaw Accord was effected, the political temperature betwixt Eastward and Westward dropped wellspring under cypher – the Frigidity War induced reverence in a heavy many citizenry.

Contempt all this, thither was hush optimism in the air. The beginning indistinct signs of the economical miracle were start to egress in Westward Germany, prompt the often aspired for upturn in fortunes. The shortfall of workers prompted thoughts of turn to Italy as an initial rootage of migrator workers. Concurrently, Italy became the ambition goal for vacation move.

1955 Mercedes Benz 190 Sl Roadster

Patch the presence pages of newspapers were reportage on the universal battle against poliomyelitis with the new “Salk” vaccinum, the sports pages were enthusing around the race-track successes of Mercedes-Benz cars. They swept to triumph in the M Prix events in Belgium, Gravid Britain, the Netherlands and in Argentina. Mercedes driver Juan Manuel Fangio became Reality Hotshot. The cars with the genius allegory too henpecked all of the reality’s nigh backbreaking long-distance races – the Mille Miglia, the Targa Florio and the Tourer Prize.

A car for the heart

Meantime, the journals and magazines were interfering discussing the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL. “Car Motive und Sportsman” considered it to be an “graceful, immobile sports holidaymaker which can too be ill-used as a utterly formula car for workaday use,” describing it as a car with “above-average roadholding”. The like publishing besides went on to say that the 190 SL “was illustrious for the fact that it good keeps on passing.” It too praised the flaccid top, claiming that it was “made to a timbre banner that, external Sindelfingen, could sole be matched in a selfsame few locations in the earth. The speedy and commodious process compulsory to rise and frown the transformable ceiling is a major profit of the 190 SL.”

This had an virtually prophetical hoop thereto. At the metre, no-one flush imagined upright how crucial a office this have would refer caper in the winner of the SLK-Class. “Das Automobil” struck an even more enthusiastic note. “You can only own a car like this whole-heartedly – it casts a spell on its owner” was the accolade it bestowed. This was followed by a scarcely less remarkable confession: “I was able to feel for myself how much this car enhanced my personal standing, not only with hotel porters and ladies young and old. When you acquire this car, you are purchasing more than a means of transport. You are also acquiring recognition and, over and above the value of actually using the car, you also gain the kind of good fortune that fills the child who resides in every man with delight.”

1955 Mercedes Benz 190 Sl Roadster

Other publications tended to focus their attention more on technical details. One such journal, the “Automobil Revue”, advised its readers: “in terms of road safety, the Mercedes 190 SL is one of the very finest cars in production at this time.” Then we have “Sports-Cars Illustrated” which listed a long string of positive qualities of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL in a sober, factual manner: “The synchromesh works every time and the transmission is idiot-proof. You can drive economically if you so wish.” At this point, the author of “Sports-Cars Illustrated” finally gave way to enthusiasm and confessed: “Where the 190 SL chassis really shines is when cornering and when driving in a straight line at high speeds. This is more than just a pleasure, it is actually a character building experience.”

Based on proven technology

Unlike the 300 SL Gullwing, the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was not of course designed as a thorough-bred sports car. Instead, it was conceived as an elegant two-seater sports coupé for touring and everyday driving. The chassis platform was borrowed from the short-wheelbase floor assembly of the 180 model with its familiar single-joint swing axle with a lowered fulcrum point. The front suspension with its subframe concept was derived from the 180/180 D models.

The 190 SL was powered by a newly developed four-cylinder 1.9-litre engine with overhead camshaft which was capable of delivering 105 hp. Depending on road conditions, this meant the car could achieve road speeds substantially in excess of 170 km/h and accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h (approx. 0-60 mph) in about 14 seconds.

1955 Mercedes Benz 190 Sl Roadster

The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was available as a soft-top Roadster or as a coupé with removable hard-top with the additional option of a soft-top as well. Other items of optional equipment included a sports version for motor racing, featuring lighter doors with a cutout for the arm, stripped away bumpers and a small Plexiglas windshield in front of the driver instead of a windscreen. However, the Oberste Nationale Sportkommission (ONS or Governing National Sports Committee) refused to approve this sports version which was therefore withdrawn in March 1956.

Although this marked the end of any possible motorsport career for the 190 SL in Europe, it nevertheless came second at the 1956 Grand Prix in the Portuguese colony of Mação and was awarded Best in Class. In 1958 it went on to victory in its class of the Hong Kong Rally. The sporting career of the 190 SL was not even halted in 1961 when it was equipped with a diesel engine, going on as it did to break many records for diesel-engined cars.

Having said all that, the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL garnered even more success on elegant city streets than it did on the race track. A broad range of prominent social figures chose this elegant sports car to complement their image, including Grace Kelly and Frank Sinatra who drove a 190 SL in the film “Ten Thousand Bedrooms”.

The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL remained in production until 1963. Many detail modifications helped to define its curriculum vitae. These included the chrome trim strips on the upper edges of the doors and large tail lights chosen for the 1956 model. From July 1957 the bumper overriders on the US version became standard equipment on all models, and in October 1959 the coupé versions were fitted with a new hardtop with an enlarged rear window.

1955 Mercedes Benz 190 Sl Roadster

The clearest indication of just how much loved and successful the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was is demonstrated by the production figures: between May 1955 and February 1963, no less than 25,881 cars left the assembly lines in Sindelfingen – far in excess of the aspirations initially discussed at that decisive Board meeting back on 2 September 1953.

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