Mercedes-Benz 190 SL

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Mercedes-Benz 190 SL
MB 190 SL am 2006-07-16 (ret kl).JPG
25,881 built[1]
AssemblyWest Germany: Stuttgart Untertürkheim
Body and chassis
ClassSports car / Grand tourer
Body styleroadster
LayoutFR layout
PlatformMercedes-Benz W121
RelatedMercedes-Benz W198 (300 SL)
Mercedes-Benz W120/121
Engine1,897 cc M121 SOHC I4
Transmission4-speed manual, fully synchronized
Wheelbase2,400 mm (94.5 in)
Length4,290 mm (168.9 in)
Width1,740 mm (68.5 in)
Height1,320 mm (52.0 in)
Curb weight2,552 lb (1,158 kg)
SuccessorMercedes-Benz W113 (230SL)
See Mercedes-Benz SL-Class for a complete overview of all SL-Class models.

The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W121) is a two-door luxury roadster produced by Mercedes-Benz between May 1955 and February 1963. Internally referred to as W121 (BII or B2), it was first shown in prototype at the 1954 New York Auto Show, and was available with an optional removable hardtop.

The 190 SL presented an attractive, more affordable alternative to the exclusive Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, sharing its basic styling, engineering, detailing, and fully independent suspension. Both cars had double wishbones in front and swing axles at the rear. Instead of the 300 SL's expensive purpose-built W198 tubular spaceframe the 190 SL rode on a shortened monocoque R121 platform modified from the W121 small saloon.[2]

The 190 SL was powered by a new, slightly oversquare 105 PS (77 kW; 104 hp) Type M121 BII 1.9 L straight-four SOHC engine. Based on the 300 SL's straight six,[3] it had an unchanged 85 mm bore and 4.3 mm reduced 83.6 mm stroke, was fitted with twin-choke dual Solex carburetors, and produced gross 120 hp (89 kW; 122 PS).[3] In detuned form, it was later used in the W120 180 and W121 190 models.

The car was available either as a soft-top convertible (initially priced at DM 16,500/US$ 3,998[4]) or with removable hardtop (DM 17,650/$ 4,295). A small third-passenger transverse seat was optional. During its first years the 190 SL was available as a sports-racing model with small perspex windscreen and spartan one-piece leather covered bucket seats and aluminium doors. In 1959, the hardtop's rear window was enlarged.

Both the 190 SL and the 300 SL were replaced by the Mercedes-Benz 230SL in 1963.

Super-Leicht or Sport-Leicht[edit]

Mercedes-Benz did not announce what the abbreviation "SL" meant when the car was introduced.

Leicht is either "easy" as an adverb or "light" as an adjective in German. Defining a car it has to mean "Light".

It is often assumed that the letters stand for Sport Leicht. One car magazine in 2012 declared that the abbreviation "SL" - "securitized and personally signed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut " meant Super Leicht.[5] This contradicts "Mercedes-Benz 300 SL" of Engelen / Riedner / Seufert, which was produced in close cooperation with Rudolf Uhlenhaut showing that the abbreviation meant Sport Leicht.[6]

Mercedes-Benz used both forms until 2017. It was even called Super Super.[7] On the company website it was called Sport Leicht until 2017 and than changed to Super Leicht.[8]

For a long time it was unclear what intention the company had at the time when assigning the letter combination. It was not until the beginning of 2017 that a chance finding in the corporate archive clarified that the that the abbreviation SL stood for Super-Leicht.[9]

1962 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL fitted with softtop
1962 Mercedes-Benz 190SL with removable hardtop

Technical data[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b Oswald, Werner (2001). Deutsche Autos 1945–1990, Band 4. Stuttgart: Motorbuch Verlag. ISBN 978-3-613-02131-0.
  2. ^ "RitzSite Mercedes-Benz 190 SL 1955–1963; page 2". Retrieved 2010-10-01.
  3. ^ a b Smith, Maurice A., ed. (28 October 1966). "Used cars on test:1960 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Coupé". Autocar. 125. No. 3689. pp. 944–945.
  4. ^ US prices: Mike Covello: Standard Catalog of Imported Cars 1946–2002. Krause Publication, Iola 2002, ISBN 0-87341-605-8, p. 528.
  5. ^ Jochen Übler (2012-04-19), "Trimm's Leicht", Auto, Motor und Sport, Mercedes SL-Spezial 2012 (in German) (10), pp. 14–17, ISSN 0005-0806
  6. ^ Günter Engelen, Mike Riedner, Hans-Dieter Seufert (1999), Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (in German) (2 ed.), p. 31, ISBN 978-3-613-01268-4CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Gerold Lingnau (2002), "300SL – Die Ikone wird fünfzig", Mercedes-Benz Classic (in German) (1), pp. 10–22, ISSN 1610-8043
  8. ^ Motorsport als Zündfunke: Der Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Rennsportwagen der Baureihe W 194 (1952–1953). In:, aufgerufen am 25. Juli 2017.
  9. ^ Foto: Dokument des Namenvorschlags in: Die Zeit, 14. April 2017.