Sixty years ago, the 190 SL was presented at the New York Motor Show in February 1954. The “little sister” has long lived in the shadow of its mythical predecessor, the highly desirable 300 SL. But this beautiful and well-made car was also a real success. Under the influence of Max Hoffman, Mercedes-Benz’s official importer in the United States, the brand with the star will work on developing a vehicle that retains the lines of the 300 SL, while offering a more comfortable car at a more affordable price. The 190 SL was developed from the slightly modified structure of the 180 sedan, known as the Ponton. The all-new independent coil spring suspension that had been installed on the 180 was also continued on the 190 SL.
The car was not equipped with a 6-cylinder like the 300 SL but with a more modern and more sober four-cylinder of 1,897 cc. The engine, equipped with two Solex carburetors, finally developed 105 hp at 5,700 rpm. It was coupled to a 4-speed mechanical gearbox. This combination, without allowing a sporty temperament, gives the car good dynamism. The line is aesthetically close to the 300 SL but it is now a two-seater convertible. At the time, the catalogue also offered a hard-top as an option, as well as a third transverse "folding seat", allowing the transport of a third person. An impeccable presentation quality, a good level of finish and sound road handling have made the 190 SL a real success. The car appeals to both men and women and famous names have driven the 190 SL such as Grace Kelly and Miles Davis. Beautiful and reliable, the 190 SL has had a great career. During the nine years the model was on the market, from 1955 to 1963, 25,881 units of this car were produced. Paradox of history, the 190 SL was undoubtedly much more profitable for the German manufacturer than the 300 SL.