Mercedes-Benz Type 190 SL Roadster, (W 121)

The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL is a Mille Miglia car

The popular Roadster completed the “1000 Miles” Brescia–Rome–Brescia race in 1956

New findings make it possible for the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL to take part in the present-day Mille Miglia: the right to participate is reserved exclusively for models which were represented in the original road race that was held from 1927 to 1957 – and a 190 SL took part in the demanding “1000 Miles” from Brescia to Rome and back in 1956. That year’s race featured a total of 15 Mercedes-Benz vehicles, six of them works cars: three “Ponton” Type 220 special touring cars and three 300 SL “Gullwing” models.

190 SL Roadster with coupé roof from 1955

190 SL Roadster with coupé roof from 1955

in 1954 along with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198) at the International Motor Sports Show in New York – the 190 SL (W 121). As well as sharing the limelight with the famous super sports car, it had similar styling, but was offered as a Roadster from the very start. Research conducted in the Mercedes-Benz Classic archives has now led to the surprising discovery that the nine Mercedes-Benz vehicles which were privately entered for the 1956 Mille Miglia included not only additional 300 SL “Gullwing” models, but also a 190 SL. On the basis of this information, which has been confirmed by documents in the archive of the Museo Mille Miglia in Brescia, Mercedes-Benz Classic has today asked the organiser of the present-day Mille Miglia to add the 190 SL to the list of vehicles authorised to take part in the event.

190 SL Roadster with coupé roof from 1958

190 SL Roadster with coupé roof from 1958

“We are delighted to have another Mercedes-Benz model for the Mille Miglia. This means that even more of the brand’s aficionados will now have the opportunity to participate in the event,” says Michael Bock, Head of Mercedes-Benz Classic and the Customer Centre. “The last few years have seen a dramatic increase in the popularity of the 190 SL as a collector’s car. It is as desirable as the many other sought-after Mercedes-Benz vehicles.”

Contemporary advertising photo of the 1950s depicting the 190 SL on the German holiday island Sylt in the morning sun.

Contemporary advertising photo of the 1950s depicting the 190 SL on the German holiday island Sylt in the morning sun.

The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was entered in the 1956 Mille Miglia by the French driving team of Michel Bianco / Jean Loup Pellecuer. It had the starting number 347, corresponding to a start time of 3:47 in the morning, and took 121st place after a race time of 16 hours, 6 minutes and 15 seconds. The fact that even specialist circles were largely unaware that the 190 SL had competed during the original Mille Miglia era is probably due to the official reports issued by the Brescia Automobile Club at the time only referring to the vehicle as a Mercedes without specifying the model designation.

190 SL (W 121)

190 SL (W 121)

A popular model among collectors, the Roadster now qualifies as a participant in the Mille Miglia as a result of this development. A total of 25,881 units of the 190 SL model were built, some 18,000 of which went to the USA. The elegant, luxury sports car was priced at 16,500 Marks in Germany in its day.

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