Myth Buster Mercedes-Benz 190SL

De­bunk­ing the most com­mon old wives’ tales

Classic Car Weekly (UK) - - This Week - Giles Chap­man

1 IT’S A BABY 300 SL

The 190 SL has gath­ered quite a bit of dis­re­spect over the years be­cause of this mis­un­der­stand­ing. Although there’s a fam­ily like­ness be­tween the two, they are ut­terly dif­fer­ent. The 300 SL has a races­tyle welded tubu­lar alu­minium space­frame chas­sis and a pow­er­ful fuel-in­jected straight­six en­gine. These at­tributes were found on both gull­wing coupé and the later two-seater road­ster. The 190 SL, mean­while, has twoseater road­ster body­work welded to the 190 ‘Pon­ton’ sa­loon’s stan­dard floor­pan and its four­cylin­der 1897cc en­gine uses twin car­bu­ret­tors. 2 THE 190 SL WAS GUT­LESS The 120bhp 190 SL, which made its de­but in 1954, wasn’t dis­sim­i­lar to the ro­bust 190 sa­loon to drive. So it didn’t feel like a pur­pose-built sports car, and the swing-axle rear sus­pen­sion wasn’t best suited to ex­u­ber­ant aban­don. Top speed was 107mph and 0-60mph took 13.3sec. Cer­tainly no su­per­car, then, but re­spectable by con­tem­po­rary stan­dards. The Daim­ler Con­quest Road­ster was the clos­est Bri­tish equiv­a­lent, yet its less pow­er­ful 2.5-litre straight-six could only muster 101mph and 0-60mph in 14.5sec. None of the 3.0-litre Alvises could beat its per­for­mance fig­ures, and the Tri­umph TR2 could only just pip it from 0-60mph. 3 LADIES ONLY, SOME SAID In the 1950s, sports-jack­eted types were apt to dis­miss the 190SL as suit­able only for girls. But then again, Mercedes al­ways in­tended it to be a us­able tourer. To that end, it came with wind-up win­dows and a top-qual­ity fold­ing hood. Leather up­hol­stery was avail­able as an op­tion and the dash­board was fully equipped and well laid out. There was plenty of lug­gage space and a 190SL, un­like an Austin-Healey, wouldn’t leave you jan­gled by the ex­pe­ri­ence af­ter a long trip.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.