Curbside Outtake: Mercedes 190 Fintail – Don’t Judge An Old Benz By Its Paint Job

This bright blue old Benz was unavoidable at Jerry’s home improvement store the other day. Not quite the factory shade of blue it started life wearing, but then this 190 has been around for a while, and deserves to sport something a bit more bold. I rather like it; it  looks rather like a toy car come to life.

I’ve been admiring these since they first arrived, in 220S/SE form in 1959, shortly before we left Austria. Wow; that was such a major cultural event: an all-new Mercedes. And I still admire them today, and even more so the devoted owners that keep them running. I came close to buying a tired, rusty one in my early car-ramblin’ days, but their specific vulnerabilities and complexities scared me off, into the hands of VWs and eventually a Peugeot 404. Probably just as well.

That was a six-cylinder that I almost burned my fingers on. But a rust-free diesel or gas 190 probably wouldn’t have been, or still isn’t all that hard to keep running. I’m being my usual optimistic self. Eventually transmissions, rear ends, and a host of other parts that have a finite lifespan will wear out.

The missing badge makes it a guess as to whether it’s a diesel or gasser. I’m betting on the former, as Mercedes diesels obviously have always had a huge cult following. If it is, the bumper shows no sign of soot.

The interior shows both the pros and cons of these. Back in the 60s and early-mid 70s, these splendid thrones were so utterly unlike anything typically seen in American cars, which mostly had flat bench seats that invariably became horribly uncomfortable after a few hundred miles. My back still aches when I think about driving our family 1965 Coronet wagon most of the way back from Colorado to Maryland because my father wasn’t well.

These seats and a host of other details (like the superb ride, excellent brakes and steering) are why folks back in the 50s and 60s were willing to pay so much for a 55 hp sedan. The differences were stark then. Not anymore, and for some time now.

The back seat is missing.

And from that bit of paint on the driver’s door where that wonderful wide pad, perfect for open-window driving, has been removed suggests that it was a blue originally, just not as intensely blue as now, and visible on the rear wheel well.

This is what I see in my mind’s eye when I think of a blue Mercedes of this vintage.

But I’m ok with this too. It deserves a bit of boldness in its old age.

If I keep looking at this car, I’m going to start feeling a tsunami of nostalgia. And I’ve indulged in a lot of that already here over the years. I’ll just celebrate the fact that it’s still out and about, and let its owner worry about how to resuscitate its interior.


Don’t miss Don Andreina’s superb design deep dive on the fintail Benz here

And if you want to peruse other fintail goodies at CC, here’s the results of a search for them