1958 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL
The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was the more laid-back version of the legendary 300 SL and, like its much more exclusive big brother, was a huge hit in the U.S., practically establishing the SL model in Mercedes’ range for decades to come.
The 190 SL, like the 300 SL, was born out of a suggestion from U.S. executive and luxury foreign car importer Max Hoffman who thought that a less expensive but still exciting and luxurious version of the 300 SL would appeal to the U.S. clientele. He’d previously come up with the idea of the road-going 300 SL as well, reckoning that America’s rich and famous would love to blitz down the country’s infinite highways aboard a more friendly version of Mercedes-Benz’s 1952 Le Mans winner, the W194 300 SL designed by Rudolf Uhlenhaut.
Due to Hoffman’s significant success as the Mercedes importer, the Stuttgart-based company decided to follow suit on his bold ideas and debuted prototypes of the two SLs at the 1954 New York International Motor Sports Show in February of that year.
Unlike the 300 SL, for which a purpose-built tubular spaceframe chassis was created, the 190 SL exhibited a tweaked version of the Mercedes-Benz 180’s underpinnings. As such, it received the W121 nomenclature with the sedan known as the W120.
Keep reading to learn more about the 1958 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL
The 540K was the ultimate prewar Mercedes-Benz. And if we’re going to further subdivide the model by different body styles, the Special Roadster was the ultimate 540K. Build by special order only, the Special Roadster was one of the most expensive and exclusive cars of its day, and could be considered the pinnacle of prewar German
The 540K is also distinct in being one of the few prewar European luxury cars to come from a company big enough to have a presence outside of Europe. Because while it wasn’t unheard of for an American to own a European car in the years prior to WWII, the logistical framework often didn’t exist for them to buy these kinds of higher-end machines that needed to be special ordered.
The 540K is actually an evolution of the 500K, with this being based on the still earlier S/SSK. But the cars are not as similar as this might make them sound, and while the 540K used a lot of the same architecture as the 500K, the chassis construction was changed completely from that of the 500K, thanks to engineer Gustav Rohr, on loan from the highly successful Mercedes motorsports program.
Updated 02/01/2016: The Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster shown here just went under the hammer at RM Sotheby’s . Did it go for the expected $10 million? Check out the prices section to see for yourself.
Continue reading to learn more about the Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster.
The future of the luxury car market was very uncertain in the years immediately following WWII. With rationing still going in parts of Europe into the ’50s, and most German manufacturers having had their factories [justifiably] bombed by the Allies, it wasn’t entirely clear in the late ’40s and early ’50s just who would be either building or buying luxury cars. The companies that made successful luxury cars in the years immediately following the war were those that learned to emphasize performance, handling, and build quality over things like bespoke bodywork that had driven the prewar luxury car market.
One of the most successful of this new kind of luxury car was the Mercedes-Benz 300 series limousines, which debuted in 1951. The following year, Mercedes made a coupe based on the 300 that was called the 300s, and this was followed up by an improved version called the 300Sc. The car was available as a hardtop coupe, cabriolet and roadster. It’s all very similar to how Mercedes uses the current S-Class, a car that is available as a sedan, limo, coupe and soon even as a convertible. It was a big success for Mercedes, and gave established top-tier luxury marques a run for their money.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300 SC Roadster.
Homologation special. It’s not a term that gets applied to cars much anymore, but it’s brought us some great ones. Think, 1985 Ferrari 288 GTO, 1981-1991 Audi Sport Quattro, and 1973 Porsche 911 2.7 RS. The idea is to require a manufacturer to build ‘x’ number of road-going versions of whatever car it wants to take racing. It prevents engineers from coming up with anything too crazy and forms a tangible link between what fans see on the track and what they can put in their driveways. Then, a company like Toyota comes along and builds two road-going GT-One Le Mans racers and blows up the entire notion.
Then there’s the Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II. Debuting in 1990, the Evo II, as it came to be called, was designed to do one thing: beat BMW in Germany’s DTM touring car race series. Unlike the DTM of today, which is comprised of carbon-chassis, purpose-built silhouette racecars, the DTM of the early ’90s was populated with cars built on road-car platforms and powered by road-car engines.
After getting trounced by BMW M3s and the odd Ford Sierra Cosworth during the 1989 DTM season, Mercedes went to work updating its 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution. The 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II was unveiled at the Geneva Motor Show ahead of the 1990 season, with more power and a wild new body kit. All 502 road cars required for homologation sold out before it was even unveiled. At around the same time, AMG (still an independent company) went to work converting an allotment of Evo IIs to race cars.
The Evo II debuted in the third round of the 1990 season at the Nürburgring with Kurt Thiim behind the wheel. Thim went on to finish the season in third behind championship winner Hans-Joachim Stuck in an Audi V8 quattro and second-place Johnny Cecotto in a BMW M3 Sport Evolution. Things went a bit better in 1991, when Klaus Ludwig drove his Mercedes to second overall, again behind an Audi, but the Evo II didn’t hit its stride until the 1992 season, when Mercedes drivers Klaus Ludwig, Kurt Thiim and Bernd Schneider swept the top three championship spots.
Because of its extremely low volume and ridiculously high cost when new (reportedly $80,000 in 1990), the Evo II road cars didn’t enjoy the same exposure as the BMW M3, but those same factors are what make it so desirable and collectible 25 years after it was first built.
Continue reading to learn more about the 1990 Mercedes-Benz 190 E 2.5-16 Evolution II.
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing is a rare enough car, as there were only 3,258 examples ever built. Of those, only 1,400 were coupes. So, when you start talking about special edition models, you are getting into some of the rarest cars in the world.
When the SL300 was busy kicking ass at venues like the 24 Hours of Nürburgring and 24 Hours of Le Mans, it was not the standard road-going model that you saw. In fact, the car you saw boasted a completely different body. All of the road-going cars, prior to the car’s retirement from racing boasted a steel body and the racing models featured a lighter allot body.
After the 300SL’s retirement from racing, the alloy body became a 5,000 Deutsche Marks option on the already pricey base 300SL. Because of this massive markup, only 29 models were ever built and sold to the general public, thus making it one of the rarest Mercedes-Benz’s available today.
To read more about the 300SL Alloy Gullwing, click past the jump.