SL epitomizes elegant roadsters of 1950s, ’60s
Mazda’s Miata wasn’t the first small drop-top to gain popularity in the U.S. market. Way back in the 1950s and early ’60s Mercedes-Benz created an iconic roadster, the 190 SL.
This wasn’t the first famous roadster either, but it was a big hit for Mercedes, and set the styling trend for upscale two-seat convertibles for the better part of a decade. Autoart’s 1:18 version is bathed in a creamy white finish that accentuates its smooth elegant lines, lines that captured well-off driver’s attention, and cash, during those heady classic sports car years.
Like Miata today, the 190 SL had a removable hardtop ($4,295), but also was available with a soft top, that model going for just $3,998. Remember, in 1953 a new Corvette started at $3,490.
The SL rode on a short 94.5-inch wheelbase, was just 168.9 inches long and weighed 2,552 lbs. Its engine was a 1.9-liter straight 4-cylinder rated at 104 horsepower, so not a rocket, but an elegant touring roadster. It was about this same time period Ford got wise and offered its first T-Bird as a luxury touring roadster.
Performance: As with past Autoart models this 190 SL is well executed, starting with its silky cream paint job. There is a clip-on black convertible top that dresses up the Mercedes, but if you display it with the roof down you can really see the gorgeous interior better. And there are two clip-on tonneau covers to choose from for a static display.
What shines is the elegance of the black leather interior teamed with the creamy dash and steering wheel with its chrome center ring and horn hub. The seats look great and there are map pockets in the doors, long before U.S. car makers ever dreamed of such a feature. The doors, which open, also feature chrome window knobs and door releases and between the bucket seats is a simple gear shift lever with white knob on top.
The dash is a classy blend of chrome and body-colored enamel, with great detailing on the gauges and radio. Plus there’s a small rearview mirror atop the black dash. Overhead are clear, but fake metal framed sun visors, a rarity, even in those days.
Yes, the trunk opens to reveal a full-sized spare tire and the rear-opening hood reveals a nicely detailed I4 motor. Hosing and wiring is complete with a red distributor and black battery. This being a smaller car, all of this is somewhat shoe-horned under the lean hood.
Head and taillights look realistic and accurate and the badging on the black mesh grille and hood are sharply executed. The chrome bumpers are nicely shaped with big bumper blocks front and rear. Folks who examine the model much will also appreciate the protruding gas filler neck and cap on the right rear, just above the bumper.
The model’s wheels also are steerable and there is some detail, especially on the suspension, under the car. Tires are non-branded and black sidewalls with cream wheels and small hub caps with the Mercedes logo emblazoned on them.
Overall this is a quite elegant looking model, and a lot more detailed than that old Matchbox version I had as a kid. Then again, that only cost 50 cents!
Fast Stats: Mercedes-Benz 190 SL
Stock No.: 76117
Rating: 4 stars