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Little Sister : the Mercedes 190SL

In February 1954, Mercedes-Benz introduced two first production sports cars to the general public. The first is the remarkable "Gullwing" 300SL which brilliantly won the Tour du Mans in 1952. The second is a smaller roadster that is immediately nicknamed "Little Sister" in reference to his elder sister.

It is the Mercedes 190SL, a two-door luxury roadster that will be produced by Mercedes-Benz between May 1955 and February 1963 and which has been a great success since its launch. It immediately conquers a whole new circle of enthusiasts who are passionate about dynamic driving and refinement. It became one of the most coveted dream cars of its time and made the SL series legendary.

Like its big brother, the Mercedes 190SL has double triangles at the front and oscillating axles at the rear. But instead of the expensive W198 tubular chassis specially designed for the 300 SL, the 190 SL structure uses a shortened unit floor.

The 190 SL is powered by a new straight SOHC engine with four 105 hp (77 kW; 104 hp) 105 hp (77 hp; 104 hp) in-line cylinders of the M121 type, with an 85 mm bore and a reduced 4.3 mm stroke of 83.6 mm. The Mercedes 190SL is equipped with dual dual carburettors with double Solex choke that produce a gross power of 120 hp.

From 1955, the car was available either as a convertible or with a removable hardtop. In the early years of production, the 190 SL was available as a racing model with a small Perspex windshield, leather-covered spartan bucket seats and aluminum doors. In 1959, the rear window of the hardtop was enlarged to increase visibility. A small cross seat for the third passenger can be added as an option.


It was not until early 2017 that a chance discovery in the Mercedes-Benz archives clarified the meaning of the abbreviation SL used for this car model. After long assuming that these two letters sinified Sport Leicht, years of debate and research came to an end. It's about Super Leight. The 24 Hours of Le Mans will have been carried by an ultra-light, innovative and not only sporty vehicle.