Curtis Perry Outtake: Mercedes 190SL – Pretty in San Francisco

These shots of a 190SL caught my eye, for obvious reasons. It’s a fetching car, of course, but these photos of it really bring its fine lines to life. Some of the best shots of this car I’ve seen, and a curbside find too.  By the way, this is a pre-1959 version, due to the small rear window in the removable top.

I’m not going add much here, since Professor Andreina has given the full lecture on the subject already; here it is, in case you missed it.  But since these were a part of my early years, I’ll probably have to add a few thoughts.

Obviously, the 190SL lived in the very large shadow of the 300SL, and as such, suffered from something of an inferiority complex. Which was only accentuated by the semi-scorn it received from the hard-core sports car set. It was too soft, slow and of course expensive for these guys used to rattling their fillings loose and blowing their ears out in their TR3s and such. Yes, 190SL was mighty pricey for a 105hp four cylinder. $5,020 for the ’58 version roadster; several hundred more for the hardtop. An Austin-Healey 3000 cost $3371 and sported 124hp. And even the roarty $2676 TR3 had 100hp. So no, in this company, the 190SL was something quite different.

It wasn’t made for the weekend road racer, or even wanna’ be. It was a sophisticated, smooth-riding, refined and very comfortable sports-tourer that really set the standard for all the subsequent SLs to come. The 300SL was an extremely expensive (more than twice the price of the 190SL) and hung around in very rarefied circles. But the 190SL made the idea of a Mercedes “sports car” relatively accessible. And the rest was history.