1961 Mercedes-Benz 190SL

For years Mercedes-Benz had been known for its uber-expensive, technically sophisticated, fast and beautiful sports cars like the SSK and 540K. After World War II its attention first turned to the highly advanced 300SLR and its more affordable but still extremely expensive relative the 300SL Gullwing Coupe. At the same time, however, a large market was developing for more user-friendly and less costly sports cars and Mercedes responded in 1955 with the 190SL. Visually similar to the big 300SL, it combined 4-wheel independent suspension, a single overhead camshaft four-cylinder engine and unit body construction into a comfortable, nimble two-seater. In recent years the 190SL has proved to be immensely popular with collectors, but none combine the history and over-the-top restoration of this 1961 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Roadster. It comes with a folio of paperwork from its first owner, Mrs. Jesse Clark Smith of Louisville, Kentucky, ranging from her acquisition of it in Italy when new through its shipment to the U.S. on US Lines and progress through US Customs to subsequent service, insurance and a full portfolio of the factory parts diagram, service directory, owner's manual and wiring diagram. Some years ago it was acquired by a new owner who spent $140,000 on a Mercedes-Benz dealer's mechanical restoration and no-expense-spared, nut-and-bolt professional restoration shop's attention to its cosmetics. It is no more than three owners from new and today is above reproach is all respects. Its dead straight body is immaculately finished in black with red leather upholstery and a black cloth top. The wheels have color-matched hubcaps, trim rings and whitewall tires. The engine compartment is fastidiously and correctly presented right down to the Varta script battery. There may be 190SLs as good as this, but there is none better, it's that good. And none have its lavish history of European acquisition and private import, thoroughly documented. It is one of a kind.

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