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  •   Antonio Ghini reacted to this post about 9 months ago



    COACHBUILT CLASSIC Mercedes-Benz 230SL #1963-Pininfarina-Coupe


    Five decades have been required to write this story. It involves one of the most iconic and best loved Mercedes-Benz models of the post-war era, a famous Italian design house, and one of the best known and most prolific automotive designers of our time.

    The car, the 1964 Mercedes-Benz 230SL Pininfarina Coupe, has lived a chequered life, first as an attempt by Pininfarina to present a car to Mercedes-Benz for possible series production, then as a daily driver for West Germany’s answer to Rupert Murdoch, Axel Springer, through a succession of owners – and paint schemes and configurations – and finally to its current keepers, the Hook family, who have owned it since 1997.

    Weston Hook worked with one of the world’s foremost Mercedes-Benz restoration experts, Hjeltness Restoration in Southern California, to return it to its original splendour. For this story to make sense, one needs to travel back in time to 1963, when at that year’s Geneva motor show Mercedes-Benz introduced the #Mercedes-Benz-SL-Pagoda-W113 230SL, a replacement for both the 190SL and 300SL. It was an immediate hit and over the course of two increases in engine capacity, for the 250SL and 280SL, 48,912 W113s were produced, of which 19,440 were sold in North America.

    The new car caught the attention of the Italian Pininfarina design house, which with an eye on a possible production contract set about improving on what many saw as the perfection of the original Paul Bracq and Béla Barényi shape. Pininfarina assigned the design to a young American, Tom Tjaarda. The son of John Tjaarda, responsible for the design of the aerodynamic 1936 Lincoln Zephyr, he had worked for Ghia before moving to #Pininfarina in 1962, where his first project was a coupe version of the rear-engined Chevrolet Corvair.

    Looking back more than 50 years, here’s what Tjaarda remembers about the development of the fixed-roof version of the 230SL. “The exact date of the Mercedes project I cannot recall, but I think it would be some time in 1963. I remember that it was going to be an attempt by Pininfarina to work together on an important project with Mercedes. The scope was to design a special version of the 230SL in such a way that it could be put into production at the Pininfarina factory. For that reason there were many carry-over components such as the interior fittings, the front end, the headlights and some other elements.

    “When working on this design it never crossed my mind that I was putting my stamp on a breakthrough design – we were working on a special version of the 230SL, and so it had to be recognisable as such. I remember starting out from the headlight design and integrating the crease of the fender line so that it looked different but at the same time nothing radical. The side view, and especially the rear, were the parts that set the design off from the production version. It was just enough to make the car look different, and perhaps more ‘Italian’ and more elegant.”

    When asked who made the decision to have a fixed-roof coupe configuration, a departure from the removable hardtop of the production version, Tjaarda said those decisions were always made by Sergio Pininfarina and the company’s CEO, Renzo Carli. He said that the prototype was built in-house and constructed over a cut-up 230 SL.

    “The basic car was taken apart and the bodywork cut away where we would be doing the modifications,” Tjaarda recalls. “Once I had done the drawings of the modifications, I was no longer involved with the project, and everything just went ahead in the workshop. I was put on another task, and really saw the car only a few times during its construction phase.”

    One thing he does remember very clearly was that Pininfarina was keen to approach Mercedes-Benz regarding the possibility of production. “He worked hard to convince the Mercedes-Benz directors to establish a cooperation and set up a production programme in the Pininfarina factory,” Tjaarda reveals. “After numerous attempts, it became clear that this was not going to happen, so the car remained a one off.”

    After the car was completed and it was obvious that there was no production potential, it was sold to West German publishing magnate Axel Springer. Over the years the car had a succession of owners, mostly in America, and during the 1980s it became known to Jerry Hjeltness of Hjeltness Restoration at an event in Palm Springs, California. At the time the car was painted black and had a red interior, and wore modern Mercedes- Benz cast aluminum wheels. It was subsequently painted red by its next owner, and the interior was refinished in tan leather, the original colour.

    Then in the mid-1990s it caught the attention of Weston Hook, a noted American collector. In the years before buying it in 1997, Weston talked with Jerry several times about acquiring the car for his collection. Jerry had said to Weston, “In red it doesn’t do anything for me.”

    A few weeks later Weston called again, telling Jerry he’d bought the car and that it was already accepted for Pebble Beach that year (12 weeks away), as there was a Tom Tjaarda Class, and could Jerry polish it and get it ready for this high-profile classic event? The red paint job was one you would find on a used car, and the Mercedes was, charitably, in less than concours condition, Jerry thought.

    When the car arrived at Hjeltness Restoration, Jerry gave Weston an honest appraisal of the situation. “We could try to polish this out, but the paint was bubbling,” he told him. “The underside is painted black, and if the judges lean down and look at the underside they will laugh.”

    Initially Weston wanted the car repainted red, but after locating photos of it as exhibited in Paris in 1964, in silver, he decided to have it returned it to its original 1964 configuration. And Jerry thought the car’s lines worked exceptionally well in silver. So with Pebble Beach closing in, all other work at Hjeltness Restoration halted as the crew concentrated on the Pininfarina coupe. Jerry’s son Eric, who works side by side with his father, recalls that the car was completed and ready in just 11 weeks.

    Eric explained that the car was not taken back to the original sheet metal, but was sanded down to almost that point. While preparing the car, Eric discovered that when it first came to Pininfarina from the factory, it was finished in white. “There were several levels of paint, black and red, where we prepped the car,” he says. “We also found filler in many places. Don’t forget Michelangelo was a sculptor, also Italian, right? Pininfarina used filler, I am sure.”

    Eric also observed that when the car was exhibited in Paris in 1964 it had side marker lights from a Ferrari from that period. “The holes were filled, but it was easy to see the original locations when the body was ‘taken down’ for its new silver paint.”

    One of the first things Jerry noticed was that the Mercedes had a Plexiglas windshield, that had been installed before its previous Pebble Beach display. “The restorer at the time, who painted the car red, apparently had broken the windshield during the restoration,” he speculates.

    Jerry had a unique solution to the windshield problem. At the time, Chrysler had an advanced design centre in nearby Carlsbad, and Jerry had a friend there. “I had him come over and we pulled a plaster of Paris mould off of the existing Plexiglas windshield – then I had a shop up in Long Beach make a glass windshield.”

    Thankfully the interior was mostly correct but the aluminum kick panels, with their fine etchings, were in less than perfect shape. To recreate the kick panels Jerry made a tool to properly duplicate the originals. When looking at the 1964 Paris photos Weston noted a unique licence-plate frame, and insisted Jerry duplicate it, even though it was missing from the car. Jerry told Weston there wasn’t enough time, but as the restoration had gone without major complications, he attempted to replicate the frame, using the 1964 pictures, Weston had. With these photos Jerry was able to get very accurate measurements.

    One particular memory from the car’s 1997 Pebble Beach appearance is worth airing. Jerry recalls that someone with a German accent walked up to it and said, “Here’s the car. We thought it was lost.” The German apparently worked for Axel Springer. A week later, he called Hjeltness Restoration and arranged to have the car photographed, and it appeared in 1998 in Auto Bild magazine in Germany.

    In the time since its 1997 appearance at Pebble Beach the car has been displayed at a number of events, and is a hit whenever it goes. It remains an enduring legacy to the preservation efforts of Weston Hook, who sadly died eight years ago, leaving his wife, Elona, and son, Russell its custodians. It’s one of the cornerstones of a sizeable collection of cars, and stands at an intersection of Mercedes-Benz, Pininfarina, and a young American designer, Tom Tjaarda, who would leave his mark on more than 80 additional vehicles.


    TOP Square tailed #W113 has a good sized boot though the spare reduces space.
    ABOVE Fuel filler, normally behind the number place, was moved to inside the boot.
    ABOVE LEFT In 1997, at Pebble Beach, Tom Tjaarda was reunited with the car and signed it.
    ABOVE The #Mercedes-Benz-230SL Coupe as seen in Pininfarina’s publicity photos when it was built.
    ABOVE RIGHT A slightly later shot – the interior shade is probably distorted in this old print.
    ABOVE FAR LEFT Pagoda fascia one of the best looking Mercedes has made.
    ABOVE LEFT The classic, original Becker Mexico radio is still in place.
    ABOVE This SL was delivered with the optional four-speed automatic.
    ABOVE LEFT From this view you can see how slim Pininfarina’s rear pillars are on the #Pagoda .
    ABOVE FAR LEFT No changes were made to the engine, the 2.3-litre #M127 six producing 148bhp.
    TOP LEFT Tan is the original colour, but in the car’s past life the seats have been red.
    ABOVE Tom Tjaarda, the American stylist who worked on the Coupe project back in ’1963.

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS #1963 / #Mercedes-Benz-230SL-Pininfarina-Coupe-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-230SL-Pininfarina-Coupe / #Mercedes-Benz-230SL-Pininfarina-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-230SL-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-W113 / #Pininfarina-Coupe-W113 / #Mercedes-Benz-Pininfarina / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-Pininfarina-Coupe / #Pininfarina / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-M127 /

    Engine #M127 2,306cc, 6-cyl in-line
    Power 148bhp @ 5,500rpm
    Torque 145lb ft @ 4,200rpm
    Transmission 4-speed automatic
    Weight 1,295kg
    0-62mph 10.7sec
    Top speed 122mph
    Fuel consumption 27.7mpg
    Built #1963
    Number built 1
    All figures from #Mercedes - Benz , for a standard production 230SL
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  •   Richard Bremner reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Classic Choice 300SL Gullwing Glamour and Elegance

    After inheriting this beautiful 300SL Gullwing from her late husband, this owner really got into the spirit of classic Mercedes-Benz ownership. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.

    Celebrity 300SL Gullwing owners included actors Clark Gable (whose example changed hands in January for $1.85m, or about £1.18m), Glenn Ford, Yul Brynner and Tony Curtis, and musicians Skitch Henderson and Don Ricardo, a leader of the famous NBC Orchestra. But it wasn’t just the men that had all the fun, women in the 1950s were also known to appreciate the styling and engineering of the 300SL, two of the most notable being actresses Sophia Loren and Zsa Zsa Gabor. In the case of Sophia Loren, Mercedes-Benz heavily publicised her connection to the flagship three-pointed star.

    Move the clock forward more than 50 years after the last Gullwing rolled off the assembly line, and we find ourselves at the 2012 Gull Wing Group convention in Palm Springs, California. There, among all the perfectly restored cars and trailer queens, one Gullwing beckoned us, a silver 1955 model. It wasn’t perfect – the paint showed signs of cracking in spots – but with the doors open the interior carried a patina that told us this car was driven by an enthusiastic owner.

    As we were leaning over the sill and inspecting the odometer that registered more than 100,000 miles, its owner greeted us. “Friends came over to the pool and said that you wanted to talk to me about my car. I’m Penny Akashi.” Getting the introductions out the way, we talked about her history with this very lovely 300SL Gullwing.

    “My husband purchased the car in the 1960s from a man in San Pedro, which was long before I knew him,” she explains. “I became more familiar with the Mercedes after we got married and it went into our garage in the early 1980s. The car pretty much stayed there for most of the next 20 years. Every now and then my husband would just start the engine without taking the SL out.

    “Eventually, he disconnected the battery, the tyres went flat and it was not driveable. He did make some minor attempts at restoring it and once had it towed to a local car show, however it just went back into the garage,” Akashi remembers. “Even though he was one of the very early members of the Gull Wing Group, the only activity I remember us participating in together was a trip to Don Ricardo’s house to see his collection of vintage cars. It was while we were there that I saw person after person drive up in their 300SL Gullwings and realised there were people who actually drove their cars. I would ask why we had a car that we didn’t drive, but I never got an answer that made sense to me – but then again, it wasn’t my car,” she adds with a smile.


    “It was the winter of 2001 when he told me he was having the car towed to Tom Burniston’s in Long Beach, to be restored,” continues Akashi. “Over the course of three years, Tom painstakingly and meticulously restored the engine of the car and documented each step.

    I would see a letter and bill from Tom occasionally, but I really didn’t have anything to do with it. I was just happy to have an extra parking spot in the garage during that time.” The work was finished in 2004, almost simultaneously with her husband’s passing. That’s when she became the owner and, with the help of her brother-in- law, went to pick it up.

    After retrieving the SL, it mostly sat until 2008, except for once-a-month drives around the neighbourhood. That was when her good friend Pete Moyer asked, as a birthday present, if he could get a ride in the car. Akashi was happy to oblige, and with encouragement and support from Moyer, she started taking the Mercedes-Benz out for longer drives.

    Needless to say, she was soon hooked. At this point she connected with fellow Gull Wing Group member Steve Marx, who is well known in southern Californian Gullwing circles as the owner of Marx Mercedes Service in Costa Mesa. “He encouraged me to get the engine checked out and serviced, and said we should start taking the car for ‘real’ drives,” Akashi tells us. “Freeways, the Pacific Coast Highway. Let it really go and get warmed up.”

    After servicing the 300SL and giving it a clean bill of health mechanically, Marx mentioned that there was a Gull Wing Group convention coming up in Sonoma, California, up in the Bay Area east of San Francisco. “He said I should seriously think about driving up and that the members were a ‘nice bunch’. That first long trip that Pete and I took was one of the highlights of my life,” Akashi recalls fondly. “I think the most exciting part was crossing the Golden Gate Bridge. I couldn’t believe that we were there in that car! Of course, the funny part was that it was getting dark and neither of us knew which knob on the dashboard was for the headlights. We must have tried them all – and one we shouldn’t have touched – before we found it!”


    Working with Gullwings is never anything but pure delight. But when the owner gets into the spirit of things and dresses in period for the photoshoot – right down to the politically incorrect mink stole – it’s a real treat. We headed to the world famous Venice Beach. Now, a #Mercedes-Benz 300SL #Gullwing will draw a crowd no matter what, but when what looks like a 1950s film star gracefully gets out from behind the wheel, well, a near riot ensued! As we continued, someone even asked us what TV show Akashi was starring in, someone else wondering if this was a retro photoshoot for something like Vogue!

    It was a magical experience with a remarkable owner and her iconic classic #Mercedes -Benz. For just a few, all too brief hours, it was wonderful to recreate another era where glamour and elegance were the norm, not the exception. It’s great to have the opportunity to tell, in words and photographs, the story of one very special 300SL Gullwing and its enthusiastic driver who understands the true spirit of the car. Something tells us her husband would be very proud of her.

    It was getting dark and neither of us knew which knob was for the headlights, we must have tried them all!
    It went into our garage in the early 1980s – it pretty much stayed there for the next 20 years.
    The interior carried a patina that told us this car was driven by an enthusiastic owner.
    Getting into the spirit, owner Penny Akashi is the proud custodian of this 1955 classic.
    The vibrant, red leather shows gentle signs of its use.
    This was the first Mercedes production car with a fuel injected engine, the three-litre straight-six developing 212bhp.
    The steering wheel moves to help the.
    Standing in the iconic pose, after years of inactivity, this now restored and often used classic Mercedes still turns heads. driver get in/out.
    The delicate, chrome script glistens on the two-tone dashboard.
    A decent boot and a spare are handy for the miles this SL enjoys.
    Akashi was soon hooked and this SL is now very well used.

    JUST THE FACTS / TECHNICAL DATA FILE #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Gullwing-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL / #Mercedes-Benz-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-M198 /

    Engine #M198 2,996cc 6-cyl
    Power 212bhp @ 5,800rpm
    Torque 203lb ft @ 4,600rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    Weight 1,295kg
    0-62mph 10.0sec
    Top speed Up to 162mph
    Fuel consumption 29.7mpg
    Years produced #1954 / #1955 / #1956 / #1957


    When introduced, it was a landmark car, attracting the attention of the rich and famous – as it still does today Figures for car as pictured; fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent; top speed depends on the rear axle ratio.
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  •   Richard Bremner reacted to this post about 2 years ago
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  •   Richard Bremner reacted to this post about 2 years ago
    Golden opportunity / Classic choice Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster W198

    With its still exceptional touring capabilities, this apparently unique, low mile 300SL Roadster was born for the Californian sunshine. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.

    The year is 1963 and Beatlemania is sweeping across Great Britain. Over on the other side of the Atlantic, an American president is felled by an assassin’s bullet in Dallas, Texas. And in Germany, the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster ends its illustrious, almost six-year production run.

    It was with these events as a backdrop, that Arthur Dring walked into Budd and Dyer Mercedes-Benz on Catherine Street in Montreal, Quebec, Canada in 1964. Intending to buy a 190SL, instead he purchased this #1963 300SL Roadster, apparently the only one produced in this unusual but prepossessing shade of DB462 Tunis Beige metallic, that had been specially ordered for another client of the dealership who, in the end, took delivery of a different car. Its VIN indicates the chassis was built in late 1962, titled by Canadian authorities as a 1963 car and delivered to Arthur Dring, its first registered owner, in 1964.


    The story of the 300SL Gullwing and #Roadster has been well documented many times. The duo of road going 300SLs built upon the success of the legendary W194 300SL racing car, and both coupe and roadster were supercars of their era. They were informally marketed as race cars for the road, owing to their relationship to the #Mercedes W194 racers, especially true in the case of the gullwinged coupe. In roadster form, the 300SL could be said to be brutally elegant, and its classic exterior styling has stood the test of time exceptionally well and is reflected by the prices that well maintained and documented examples command when they change hands, especially at auction. This particular 1963 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster is virtually 100 per cent original, with just 42,000 documented miles showing on its odometer at the time of its recent sale, which came about through an interesting set of circumstances.

    The tale starts with Tony Shooshani, a real estate investor and car nut living in Beverly Hills, California, and Craig Calder who operates FastCars Ltd in nearby Redondo Beach. For more than six months, starting in June 2010, the pair searched the world for an alloy block, disc brake 300SL. Their search located several cars, including a white/black car in Germany offered by the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre. But in December 2010 a very interesting car popped up in an online search performed by Calder, a car that would become known as Goldie.


    This car was being presented by Robert Dening of Spirited Automobiles in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, a dealer that works with the legendary restoration firm, Rudi & Company.

    Rudi is Rudi Koniczek, whose shop is located near Victoria, British Columbia. Known as one of the world’s foremost restorers of the 300SL, he was sought out by representatives of Mr Dring, now in his 80s, who was no longer able to handle his own financial affairs. Calder, knowing that the car would not stay unsold for long, contacted Shooshani, who told him to put down a deposit right away, based only on the online description and Koniczek’s reputation. This was in December 2010. The next month, they flew to Victoria to inspect the car and the deal was finalised. “We knew we had to act quickly,” said Shooshani. “We flew up on a Friday evening and looked over the car on Saturday. I had to immediately return to California, so Craig stayed an extra day, completing the inspection.

    “As soon as I saw the car I knew I would buy it,” Shooshani recalls. “I feel that a car has to talk to me before I buy it, and this car did. It was love at first sight. Looking at the car in Victoria I thought about how much I would enjoy having it in my garage, among my other cars, and sitting in it each night. The car exceeded my expectations in every way.”

    Once the roadster arrived in California, FastCars worked hard to bring it back to its factory fresh condition, maintaining originality the primary goal. It was not the intention to restore the SL to better-than-new condition. “We serviced and detailed the car,” explained Calder. “One of the things we did was fabricate a unique frame and crate system to keep the original soft and hardtops safe.”


    Shooshani, being an enthusiast collector, someone who feels that he is a custodian of history, has not kept Goldie locked away. He has enjoyed several long drives in this 300SL Roadster, including two from his home in Beverly Hills, up the Pacific Coast Highway to Santa Barbara, a round trip of 200 miles. “I’ve done it with the top up and with the top down,” he tells us.

    “The car is rock solid, a great touring car, perfect for the open road. In the summer of 2011, I did the Tour d’Elegance at Pebble Beach. The car is very smooth, even upwards of 90mph. While in Monterey, I did the famous 17-mile drive, drove it south to Big Sur and back to Monterey. In my mind the car is a work of art because it is unique, it’s priceless.” So now, the SL has 43,350 miles on the clock, more than 1,000 of which were added in the first nine months of 2011 alone!

    It is this roadster’s superb condition and the fact that everything is in perfect working order, that makes it such a dream drive for Shooshani. “Every time I take the car out, I turn on the radio,” he says. “The original power antenna raises every time, and the music comes on when the antenna is extended fully. I listen to the station that gives me the clearest signal. With the right music, it’s easy to imagine what it must have been like to drive Goldie when the car was brand new.” It is wonderful to know that a classic Mercedes of such stunning beauty and in such fabulous condition has been enjoyed – and is still being enjoyed. One of its most striking elements is the beguiling lustre of its rare paint. On this topic, Koniczek was able to share some interesting details.


    “The cars were originally painted with a nitrocellulose lacquer with no clear coat. This kind of paint, especially the metallics, dulled over time. We spoke with Art’s [Arthur Dring] neighbours who said he took the car back to Mercedes-Benz in North Vancouver at some point in the 1980s to have the paint restored.”

    I can’t help but wonder if Art and Mary Dring drove the car when they relocated from Montreal to Vancouver, British Columbia. If they did, they probably travelled the Trans-Canada Highway that spans Canada over two routes from St John’s in the east to Vancouver and Victoria on the Pacific coast. While many of us fantasise about driving a Mercedes-Benz 300SL Roadster top down through the Alps, the Canadian Rockies, especially the Lake Louise region, would provide equally spectacular roads and scenery for a drive in a million.

    But then, in a classic Mercedes-Benz of this calibre, every drive is special, every journey a grand tour, the gently purring straight-six the perfect companion.

    Thank you to Rudi Koniczek at Rudi & Company Tel 00 11 1 250 727 6020 Web, Robert Dening at Spirited Automobiles Tel 00 11 1 250 532 6547 Web and Craig Calder of FastCars Ltd Tel 00 1 310 937 6700 Web for their help

    Secrets within

    A surprising discovery offers a glimpse into the past The paperwork trail of this 300SL Roadster was extensive. Quite possibly the most interesting document was found in the car’s glove box – a nearly new owner’s manual.
    We had noted there was no mention of firm Studebaker-Packard in any of the 300SL Roadster’s documentation. From 1958 to 1964, Mercedes-Benz automobiles were distributed in the United States by Studebaker-Packard. The lack of mention of Studebaker-Packard in any of the printed materials indicates that Mercedes-Benz vehicles from this era were imported to Canada through a separate sales and marketing organisation. Interesting!

    When we opened the owner’s manual, on its back page we found a fold-out map showing all the authorised Mercedes-Benz sales and service outlets, including service only outlets. The map shows that many were in faraway and remote locations, demonstrating that even back then, #Mercedes-Benz went to great lengths to support owners of its cars, wherever they lived or travelled.

    One of its most striking elements is the beguiling lustre of its rare paint.
    The car is rock solid, a great touring car, perfect for the open road.
    As soon as I saw the car I knew I would buy it – it was love at first sight.
    This 300SL Roadster is virtually 100 per cent original, with just 42,000 miles on its odometer.

    JUST THE FACTS #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Roadster-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-Roadster / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-300SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-Roadster-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-W198 / #Mercedes-Benz-M198 /

    Engine #M198 2,996cc 6-cyl
    Power 212bhp @ 5,800rpm
    Torque 203lb ft @ 4,600rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    Weight 1,330kg
    0-62mph 10.0sec
    Top speed 155mph
    Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
    Years produced 1957-1963


    Presented three years after the coupe, the 300SL Roadster became an even greater sales success than its iconic, gullwing doored sibling Figures for car as pictured; fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent; top speed depends on rear axle ratio.

    This now evocative, trademark design is seen on later SLs.
    The two-seat, red leather cabin has been used but not abused.
    The roadster’s rear suspension differs from that of the coupe.
    The Becker Mexico radio works well.
    The glove box lid with “300SL” script.
    The SL has recirculating ball steering.
    The M198 was Mercedes’ first fuel injected engine in a series produced car.
    All the 300SL ’s original tools are present and correct.
    The full size spare wheel is in ready to use condition.
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  •   Adam Towler reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Family affair. This rare 1950s coupe was bought as a basket case in 1972, reports Richard Truesdell, after which it was restored over a six-year period – and to this day remains with the same Mercedes loving family in California. Images Richard Truesdell/Daimler AG.

    “The 300sc was owned by luminaries like King Hussein of Jordan and Hollywood stars Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Bing Crosby”

    The year was 1978, the car a 1956 Mercedes-Benz 300Sc, and the story is of the relationship between a father, his son, and his preservation of his father’s legacy in steel, aluminum, wood and leather. The father, the late Donald Minkoff of Newport Beach, California, was preparing his prized Mercedes for that year’s Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and his son Mark, then 20 years old, was doing what he could, helping to get the car ready for the event.

    “I was destined to be a car guy from the day I was born,” says Mark, sitting in his office in Costa Mesa, California with his wife of 34 years, Sherry. “My dad brought me to my first NASCAR race at Riverside Raceway when I was just five years old. I remember that Roger Penske won the race – from that point on, I was a big fan of any kind of racing.” Today Mark races a short-wheelbase 911 Porsche he acquired 15 years ago, and a Ford Thunderbird in the Historic Stock Car Racing Series for vintage NASCAR race cars.

    I would crawl around the car as an infant trying to ‘help’ my dad with restoration projects,” Mark continues, recalling that the most memorable was the 300Sc. He was involved in its restoration, along with many skilled craftsmen, and still remembers trying to get it show ready the evening before loading the car on the trailer for its trip to Monterey.

    “My dad was the type of guy who was always doing things at the last minute,” Mark remembers. “The 300Sc did make it to Pebble Beach, and miraculously won first in class and was also selected as one of the 10 most elegant cars in the show. Sherry was there, but at the time we were not married. My father being the frugal guy he was, made Sherry and me sleep on the balcony on a mattress instead of reserving an extra room. I think that tells you a lot of what you need to know about my father.”

    He comments that times have changed greatly at Pebble Beach in the intervening 35 years, that what he and his dad accomplished in 1978 would be impossible today. “We don’t attend the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance any longer,” he tells us. “It has become so crowded. In the early days you could spread out a blanket and picnic with family and friends. That year I was proudly standing next to my dad as he received congratulations from Phil Hill, the 1961 Formula 1 champion.”

    Donald Minkoff wasn’t your typical #Mercedes - Benz owner. Born in Los Angeles in 1929, at the height of the Great Depression, he spent his early years in Alhambra, graduated from Alhambra High School, and there, met and married his wife of 57 years, Erna. Happily, Erna shared his love of cars, especially those with the three-pointed star. This afforded the couple the opportunity to travel often to Europe while raising Mark and his sisters.

    Don spent much of his professional life as a salesman for General Mills products and called on grocery stores and supermarkets in southern California. In the early sixties his route passed by a car dealership where he would see W188 300S Coupe on display, falling in love with it. But even for a successful salesman, it seemed that such a car was beyond reach, although that never stopped Don from dreaming that some day he would own the car the stars drove. The 300Sc was owned by 1950s luminaries like King Hussein of Jordan and Hollywood stars Clark Gable, Gary Cooper and Bing Crosby.

    Over time, as Don become more successful, he moved from the middle class neighbourhood of Encino, north of downtown Los Angeles, to the upscale community of Newport Beach in Orange County, south of LA. Through it all, he never gave up on his aspirations of one day owning a 300Sc. That chance presented itself in 1972, 10 years after his first encounter with the 300S Coupe in that Los Angeles showroom. Purchased for the princely sum of $3,100 (the equivalent today of $17,000, or about £11,400), the car had just reached 100,000 miles. It was something of a barn find, having been purchased from the previous owner who stored it in hut a mile from Mark’s current office.

    The low price reflected its need for extensive restoration, which would become a father-son project over the following six years. While the bodywork was left to specialists, much of the mechanical work was performed by Don and Mark. The 300 series was a special car, with over 1,000 highly skilled man hours applied to each one during its build.

    All components were hand fitted, each item bearing an individually stamped identification number. In seven years of production from 1951, Mercedes made only 760. Of these, 200 were the 300Sc, introduced in 1955 to replace the 300S, and using a new three-litre engine with Bosch fuel injection rather than triple carburettors, which raised power by 25bhp to 173bhp, and torque 18lb ft to 188lb ft. Of these, only 98 were coupes, with very few being equipped with the factory installed sunroof. It is believed that around 60 per cent of all 300 series coupes, cabriolets and roadsters have survived.

    Down the years, Don and Erna travelled often to Europe, and established a successful business importing Mercedes cars directly from Germany. Their Mercedes collection progressively grew, at one time Don owning 10. One of them, a 1956 220SE Cabriolet was a 10th wedding anniversary gift from Don to Erna, in 1963. On the day he gave it to her, he covered her eyes, getting her sat behind the wheel, and saying he bought her a station wagon. But as she smelled the leather, she knew very well that this was no crude, US built truck with a vinyl interior and imitation wood side panels.

    The 300Sc is displayed regularly, at regional events, most recently, this year’s Rodeo Drive Concours d’Elegance. There, it was parked next to Bruce Meyer’s 1957 300Sc Cabriolet, a car once owned by Hollywood screen icon Clark Gable – and there is a direct link between the two cars, dating back to the days when Don and his family lived on Encino. It seems that Mark detailed the Clark Gable car when it was owned by the late actor’s estate. It was during this time that Don was able to purchase the fitted luggage that now resides in the Minkoff’s 300Sc (we’re thinking that Bruce would love to reunite the luggage with his car but it is likely that Mark will want to keep it with his).

    Don Minkoff passed away on September 15 2010, after a short illness. He was 81, and as Mark will attest, his was a life well lived, especially where his relationship with the three-pointed star was concerned. Since his passing, Mark has faithfully tended to his father’s collection, striving to maintain the cars in perfect running condition, which is something his dad struggled with. “My dad was the type that was happy with how his cars presented but left some of the hidden details untended,” says Mark. “The best example is the under dash wiring harness on the 300Sc. When I refreshed the car after his death, I removed the harness, with all the splices, butt connectors and electrical tape intact. I keep the harness in a cabinet in my office in my ‘man cave’ in Costa Mesa, where I have kept his collection intact.”

    This includes a 1957 300SL Gullwing, it being the ninth from last of the 1,400 coupes built over the three year period. It is probably the most valuable car in the collection, but Mark knows that the 300Sc Coupe was always his favourite. “I am sure my dad is looking down and smiling,” says Mark, looking wistfully at the cabinet with the wiring harness.

    “The 300Sc is displayed regularly, at regional events like the legendary Cars and Coffee show held each Saturday morning in Irvine”
    “The 300 series was a special car, with over 1,000 highly skilled man hours applied to each one during its build”

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Coupe-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300S-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-M199 / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Coupe / #Mercedes-Benz-300S / #Mercedes-Benz-300 /

    Engine #M199 2,996cc 6-cyl
    Power 173bhp @ 5,400rpm
    Torque 188lb ft @ 4,300rpm
    Weight 1,780kg
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    0-62mph 14.0sec
    Top speed 112mph
    Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
    Years produced #1955 / #1958
    All figures from #Mercedes-Benz

    Above. ‘Einspritzmotor’ tells us that this car, unlike early models, has fuel injection.
    Left. Every year Mark takes the 300Sc to varoius classic car events in California.
    Right. The fitted luggage set was acquired later – from a 300Sc Clark Gable owned.
    Right. One of the publicity photos Mercedes issued of the coupe in the mid 1950s.
    Above. Rear seat is best described as cosy, with limited space.
    Left. The 300Sc has 173bhp, a healthy output for the time.
    Below. Few 1950s cars looked as chic.
    Above. The 300-series was offered as the Coupe, Roadster and Cabriolet.
    Above left. This is the cover of the 1951 brochure for the early model, the 300S.
    Below. The polished wood and chromed trimmed dials make for a stylish fascia.
    Above. Mark with the 300S as it is today, 35 years after the restoration was completed.
    Left. Same place, in 1972, with Jim Albin, who carried out some paintwork on the car.
    Left and below. Phil Hill congratulates Don (open shirt) on ’1978 Concours win; Mark is to Don’s right. classic coupe 300Sc.
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  •   Adam Towler reacted to this post about 3 years ago

    SPECIAL CONVERSIONS Binz 300c estate / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Adenauer / #Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer-Estate / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300-Estate / #Binz /

    Mercedes never intended the #1951 #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300-Adenauer as an estate car, but German coachbuilding firm #Binz begged to differ and created this one-off wagon, reports Richard Truesdell. IMAGES Richard Truesdell.



    Station wagons, estates, T-models. Call them what you will, such vehicles bearing the three-pointed star are commonplace today. But back in the 1950s you had to go down the custom coachbuilt route if you wanted a #Mercedes-Benz-Kombiwagen . That is just what one wealthy American did and this is the story of her car, which spans more than five decades.

    In the 1950s, the mass-produced, all-steel, American station wagons were in their heyday. As the first of these cars were introduced in 1948 and 1949, real-wood body conversions were already on the decline. And while there were some large, powerful and luxurious American-built station wagons available, from Buick and Chrysler especially, none, it seems, had sufficient cachet for Caroline Foulke, a wealthy socialite with homes in Paris, New York and Florida. In 1956 she visited her local dealer – the flagship Mercedes-Benz dealership on New York City’s Park Avenue – with an unusual request. She wanted a Mercedes-Benz station wagon. There was, however, just one little problem – at the time, #Mercedes -Benz offered no such model.

    But this didn’t deter the eager-top-lease sales team at #Mercedes-Benz Manhattan, who apparently arranged for a new #W186 300c #Adenauer saloon – one of just 1,367 built between September 1955 and July 1957 – to be delivered directly to #Binz-&-Company-Coachworks in Lorch, Germany. The Binz craftsmen, drawing on their experience in ambulance and hearse conversions, were tasked with converting the four-door 300c into an American-style estate. It should be noted that unlike many conversions of Mercedes saloons into hearses and ambulances, the rear side windows of this car are set almost flush with the bodywork aft of the ‘C’-pillars. This contributes to the car’s factory look, while the design of the thin, chromed pillars gives the car exceptional all-round visibility.

    Indeed, some liken this car’s appearance to subsequent factory-built Mercedes estates. Like its saloon counterparts, Mrs Foulke’s 300c estate was powered by Mercedes’ M186, three-litre, 123bhp #straight-six . When mated to the standard four-speed manual transmission with a steering column-mounted shifter, as in this car, the 1,860kg 300c saloon could do 0-62mph in 17 seconds, with a maximum speed of 99mph.

    Much folklore surrounds this car. One of the stories is that Mrs Foulke was so proud of her unique Mercedes that she had it flown to her many homes at huge expense. After all, it is a car that would be very much at home on Madison Avenue in New York City, in Palm Beach, Florida, or on the Champs-Élysées in Paris. As commissioned by Mrs Foulke, the car was finished in the striking combination of graphite grey with a contrasting red leather interior.

    In the years that followed, the car passed through a number of owners. One of these was noted collector Charlie Cawley (a former CEO of bank holding company MBNA in the USA) who at one time had over 200 cars in his collection. It was when this 300c estate was in his care that it was repainted in its current dark blue.

    In 1999 the car found a new owner, investment banker Lee Munder, who purchased it through the RM Auctions 1999 Amelia Island sale for a reported $75,000. The car was invited to the 2000 Amelia Island concours d’elegance where it garnered more than its share of admiration. Afterwards, the car went to Hatch & Sons for a refresh. At the time, Jeff Cote worked on the car, but he now serves as the Restoration Manager at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, California.

    “It was apparent that, while at Binz, most of the standard bodywork was removed from the front doors backwards,” Cote tells us. “In its place, the craftsmen there, with their experience of converting sedans into ambulances and hearses, fabricated a full-length, one-piece roof. When we had the car apart you could see all the welding in the rear doors, as well as the bespoke, two-piece tailgate, all of which were apparently hand made. The original 300c tail lights were replaced with smaller units from the then current 180 Ponton and 190SL.”

    For much of the 2000s, this bespoke wagon didn’t attract too much attention – until it appeared in the Gooding & Company auction catalogue for an Amelia Island event in 2010. There it attracted the eye of collector Bruce Iannelli, an exotic-car broker and automotive wholesaler who lives in Bergen County, New Jersey. And this is where the story starts to get really very interesting. Iannelli told us that he had known of the car for a long time, and was keen to add it to his collection, which includes nine other Mercedes, many of which were restored and acquired through the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center.

    “I’ve known about the car for 10 years, but I could never get my hands on it,” Iannelli says. “Then I saw it in the 2010 Amelia Island listing and I told my wife, Margaret, that we had to have it – I told her we will take our oldest daughter to college in it.”

    Michael Kunz, Manager of the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center in Irvine, remembers being contacted by Iannelli soon after the Gooding & Company catalogue was released. “Reading the description, we were excited at the prospect of him adding the car to his collection,” says Kunz. “And it certainly didn’t hurt that our own Jeff Cote was intimately familiar with the car, as he led the refreshing efforts on it while working at Hatch & Sons.”

    “I couldn’t be at Amelia Island to bid on the car,” continues Iannelli, “ but the Classic Center served as my eyes and ears. They told me exactly what it would need if I bought it. Work included removing what appeared to be an after-market air-con system, fitting new interior wood and refurbishing two exterior panels, and attending to the top of the motor.” Iannelli then shares his excitement regarding the bidding process itself. “On the day of the auction, the Gooding people called me, asking if I could be available to buy the car on the phone. They told me they would call at 7.30pm as the car was scheduled to be auctioned at 8pm.

    Margaret and I were in a local restaurant at the time, so I told her to put down the wine. ‘We’re going home, I don’t want to be distracted – we are going to buy this car.’”

    When the bidding started, Iannelli held back, hoping not to show his hand. “The bidding started at $75,000, then reached $110,000 before levelling off at $165,000. I put in a bid of $170,000 [over £100,000] and then my phone went dead. I called back on another phone and the Gooding girl answered, telling me to bid another $5,000 even though I didn’t know the total price – and I got it! In the time between my phone going dead and reconnecting with Gooding, the bidding went to $230,000 [around £140,000] and without knowing it at the time, my extra $5,000 made me the winner! Owning the car was more important than the final price. For me, it is the story of this car, the simple passion of owning the best, and in this case, a unique Mercedes-Benz.

    Now that this one-off 300c Adenauer estate is part of his stable, we asked Iannelli to reflect on it. “It has a very distinctive and proud nose, the design is so straight and perfect – it’s hard to tell that it wasn’t originally designed as a station wagon,” he considers. “Looking into the dash, the beauty of the instruments and the wood, it’s so finely detailed, so perfect. It’s the ultimate. The car drives down the road so absolutely flawlessly. It’s rolling art.”

    In looking back on his now four-year ownership of the Adenauer estate, Bruce offered up these comments. “Unique, one-of-a-kind cars are rare and getting rarer. Often they go into private collections and in many instances will never come out again. As a family, we are lucky to have it. People see the uniqueness and it is now a key part of our collection.” It would seem that Bruce Iannelli has the right spirit in preserving and sharing the cars bearing the three-pointed star that reside in his collection. He is doing the memory of Caroline Foulke proud.

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS #Mercedes-Benz-300c-Estate-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-300-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-M186 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-300c-Binz-Estate-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-300c-Binz / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Binz-W186 / #Binz-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300 / #Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Station-Wagon / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Kombiwagen / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Kombiwagen-W186 / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Station-Wagon-W186

    Engine #M186 2,996cc 6-cyl
    Power 123bhp @ 4,500rpm
    Torque 163lb ft @ 2,600rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual
    Weight 1,860kg
    0-62mph 17.0sec
    Top speed 99mph
    Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
    All figures from Mercedes-Benz, and for a standard 300c




    RIGHT The Adenauer’s interior wood trim was renewed and looks really beautiful.
    RIGHT Seperate front seats, but the close together chairs could take three people.
    ABOVE The Binz conversion to an estate included making up an entire new roof section.
    BELOW Contemporary photos show it was an official, if very unusual, conversion.
    BOTTOM Original paperwork adds to the 300c’s provenance.
    ABOVE It must have been one of the poshest wagons to ride around in back in the 50s.
    ABOVE LEFT This being an early 300 model, the transmission was a four-speed manual.
    ABOVE TOP LEFT Even at this level of luxury occupants had to wind their own windows down.
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  •   Adam Towler reacted to this post about 3 years ago

    The W188 coupes, cabriolets and roadsters were elegant and refined in the best Mercedes-Benz tradition.
    The chrome running over the front arches to the rear is a sign that this is an Sc.
    The plush, grey, leather seats are overlooked by a very rare factory sunroof.

    CLASSIC CHOICE 300Sc Coupe

    Exclusive and rare it may be, but for the lucky owner of this beautiful 1957 300Sc Coupe, this classic Mercedes-Benz is all that and much, much more. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.

    In October 1951, Mercedes-Benz launched the 300S at the Paris Motor Show. Available as a Cabriolet A, a roadster and a coupe, this new star had praise heaped on it by the world’s media, called a “car of the world elites” and a “model for what can be achieved today in automobile construction”. Based on the W186 300 that debuted at the first Frankfurt Motor Show in April 1951 and which was the biggest and fastest German production car of its day, the 300S models took much of the saloon’s technology, style and engineering, but used a 150mm shorter wheelbase. Traditional yet forward looking, the W188 300S was held in the highest regard, something which lives on to this very day with its modern day counterpart, the C216 CL, Mercedes’ 21st century flagship coupe.

    In September 1955, a revised 300S was revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Known as the 300Sc and produced in the same three body shapes as before, the most notable changes were at the back and under the bonnet. Where the original three-litre engine gave 148bhp and featured three carburettors, for the Sc, direct fuel injection was employed, 173bhp now the output from the same 2,996cc, these cars carrying ‘einspritzmotor’ badging (meaning ‘injection engine’). And while the doublewishbone front suspension remained, the swing-axle rear was upgraded, a singlejoint swing-axle with a low pivot point fitted instead. More chrome trim, larger indicators and the addition of quarterlights were among the gentle exterior updates distinguishing Sc models from their forebears.

    The W188 coupes, cabriolets and roadsters were elegant and refined in the best Mercedes-Benz tradition, with a dash of élan as a sporty counterpoint, they were exceptional cars then and today.

    Their exclusivity is also undiminished. Indeed, with the passing years, they have become more rare. Only 560 300S models were built (of all body shapes), but that is more than double the number of 300Scs, of which a mere 200 were built, the production numbers for none of the three variants reaching triple figures. Like the 300SL Roadster, whose #1957 introduction might have stolen the hearts of potential 300Sc customers, contributing to the aforementioned modest production numbers, the factory offered special suitcases for the 300S and Sc models. Like the majestic 300 Adenauers with which they shared so much, these cabriolets, roadsters and coupes were true, luxury continent crushers, powerful cars that could sweep driver (maybe even chauffeur) and passengers across Europe from one great capital to another. Whatever the destination, a journey in any of these impressive 300s was certain to be a pleasure, high comfort and cutting edge engineering ensuring it could be nothing but perfect. And of course, today you have to take the grandeur and exclusivity these cars had when new and multiply it time and again to reach the status held by the remaining examples.

    Just 98 300Sc Coupes were built between December 1955 and April #1958 . Vin Di Bona of Los Angeles, California, is one of the fortunate few to call one of these gorgeous cars his own.


    Unless you are a fan of the long-running American television show America’s Funniest Home Videos, Vin Di Bona’s name might not immediately ring a bell. But if you watch the credits roll at the end of each episode, you will note the highly stylised logo of Vin Di Bona Productions. Now in its 22nd season, America’s Funniest Home Videos remains one of the most popular shows on the American television network.

    Mercedes Enthusiast had the good fortune to sit down with Di Bona and his wife Erica at the conclusion of our photoshoot at his home in an upscale enclave in Los Angeles. His home is situated on land that was once the back lot for 20th Century Fox and lies in the shadow of the 35-story MGM tower, the first skyscraper built in Los Angeles in the 21st century. His 1957 300Sc is not the only Mercedes-Benz in his collection. He also has a 1961 300SL Roadster that he has owned for more than a decade. And to not feel left out, his wife has a 1971 280SE 3.5 Coupe, acknowledged as one of the finest W111 coupes in the US.

    Di Bona’s obsession with owning a 300Sc started back in the 1960s in film school, when he noted that one of his instructors at UCLA, the Academy Award winning cinematographer James Wong Howe, drove a 300Sc Coupe. “Mr Howe was short in stature but a dynamo behind the camera,” Di Bona recalls. “It seemed that he could hardly see over the Mercedes’ massive steering wheel.” As his producing career took off, Di Bona was able to indulge his passion for cars – and the thought of some day owning a Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Coupe was never far from his mind. About four years ago, the search picked up in earnest when he looked over several different cars.

    “This 300Sc was part of an estate in Las Vegas,” he tells us. “I believe that when buying a collector’s car, it’s important to have experts to help guide one in the process. For me, that was 300SL Gullwing owner Don Minkoff. Years ago, at the Palos Verdes Concours d’Elegance, Don was showing his own maroon 1957 300Sc.

    Erica and I fell in love with his car. The thought of buying one ruminated for a year or two, and Don consulted me about several cars and suggested I contact another #Mercedes-Benz expert, Gary Clark. Of the three we checked out – one was in Santa Rosa north of Los Angeles, the other in San Diego – the Las Vegas car was clearly the best.”

    The next step was to consult Mike Regalia, well known for his restoration of Steve McQueen’s Ferrari Lusso. “We did an engine compression check on the Las Vegas car,” says Di Bona. “The reason is simple, if the engine isn’t right it’s $60,000 (almost £40,000) to fix. I had already turned down one of the other cars because the engine would need an overhaul.”

    It turns out that, about 20 years ago, this car was restored by noted Mercedes expert Chuck Brahms. The paint on the car, which had been changed from anthracite grey to its current dark blue hue, is now two decades old. Brahms is well known for his restorations featuring dark blue exteriors with contrasting grey interiors, as seen on this car. “And what makes my car really special,” says Di Bona with great pride, “is that it is just one of nine fuel injected 300Sc Coupes equipped with a factory installed sunroof.”

    Di Bona has further plans to make his coupe even more special. He is looking to fit European spec headlights. The first set he acquired didn’t fit as the trim gap was wrong, owing to the fact that these were, in essence, hand built cars. Other work, however, has progressed a little more smoothly. “When I bought the car, second gear had a notch,” he explains. “Rene Luderan at Van Nuys Sports Cars was able to find two new gears. After that we went through the mechanical components of the entire car, rebuilding the column mounted, four-speed shifter.”


    So what is this gorgeous classic coupe like out on the open road? “It’s remarkable how, for a car built in 1957, it has maintained its roadworthiness,” he effuses. “I’m an admitted air conditioning nut, but of all my classics, this is the only one not equipped with air con.” And it is interesting – and pleasing – to note that when we first encountered his 300Sc Coupe at the inaugural San Marino Motor Classic in the summer of 2011, Di Bona had no apprehension about driving it the 40-mile round trip. “I left at five in the morning so there wasn’t much traffic,” he says. “But we headed back near sunset, so on the drive home I had to be extra careful, especially as drivers would get close to admire its classic lines.”

    Of course, those are just the same classic lines that drew Di Bona to Howe’s 300Sc almost 40 years ago. “The styling,” he considers, “the combination of pre war and post war elements, is something I continue to admire to this day.”

    The best thing about this 300Sc Coupe is that it is not locked in some climate controlled garage, it gets driven to shows where others can admire it. Using it like this gives Di Bona an insight into life with a 1950s car few might even contemplate. “One time I sat in a bumper-to-bumper traffic jam for over an hour on a Sunday night coming back from an event,” he remembers. “In spite of that, it didn’t overheat. You can’t say that about many 50-year old cars. That’s a testimony to the robustness of the cooling system and the auxiliary fuel pump.”

    So it seems that not only does this special Mercedes-Benz coupe retain its heart-stopping beauty and classical luxury, its solid German engineering still shines through too.

    JUST THE FACTS #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Coupe-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300S-Coupe-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-M199 / #Mercedes / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300 / #Adenauer / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300-Coupe / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer-Coupe

    Engine #M199 2,996cc 6-cyl
    Power 173bhp @ 5,400rpm
    Torque 188lb ft @ 4,300rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    Weight 1,780kg
    0-62mph 14.0sec
    Top speed 112mph
    Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
    Years produced 1955-1958


    One of just 98 ever made, this adored Mercedes-Benz coupe is driven and enjoyed as its maker intended Figures for car as pictured; fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent.

    This badge signifies the 300Sc’s fuel injection, the 300S had three carbs.
    Luggage straps and a full size spare wheel – ready for the next adventure.
    Buying a mechanically sound car was of prime importance to Vin Di Bona.
    The purpose built luggage fits perfectly into this 300Sc’s boot.
    It is just one of nine Fuel-injected-300Sc-Coupes that was equipped with a factory installed sunroof.
    Erica and Vin Di Bona own a 300SL Roadster and W111 coupe too.
    The four-speed manual has a column mounted gearshifter.
    The combination of pre war and post war styling elements is something I continue to admire to this day.
    The Becker Mexico radio still works well.
    The speedo is flanked by vital gauges.
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  •   Adam Towler reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Gone with the wind

    Exclusive, expensive and with sumptuous good looks, it is not hard to see how this 300Sc Cabriolet A captured the heart of one of Hollywood’s all time greats. Words & Images Richard Truesdell.

    Classic Choice 300Sc Cabriolet A

    One of the most iconic actors of his era, William Clark Gable personified everything that was Hollywood in its golden age. The actor, who spoke one of the most memorable lines in screen history in the 1939 epic Gone with the Wind, “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn,” was a man with exceptional taste in automobiles. While his 1935 Duesenberg Model JN Convertible Coupe may be the best known car that he owned during his lifetime, the so-called ‘King of Hollywood’ had an affection for cars bearing the three-pointed star.

    The connection between the actor and #Mercedes - Benz includes a 1955 300SL Gullwing that is so famous in its own right, that it is known as the ‘Clark Gable Gullwing’. Shortly afterwards, in 1956, Gable, with his fifth wife Kay, strode into Auto Stiegler, the factory authorised Mercedes-Benz dealership in Beverly Hills and took delivery of this brown painted, tan leather trimmed 300Sc Cabriolet A. It was reported by onlookers that the couple blazed out of the Mercedes dealership for the short drive back to their ranch in nearby Encino.

    This 300Sc was the last car Gable purchased in his lifetime, reportedly one of his favourites in a life filled with many exceptional cars. Gable was so fond of this Mercedes that when attending the premiere of 1956’s Giant starring Elizabeth Taylor, Rock Hudson and James Dean, shortly after purchasing his 300Sc, he and his wife apparently decided to forego the customary Warner Brothers Cadillac limousine and instead arrived in style and continental elegance in their new Mercedes-Benz 300Sc Cabriolet A.

    At a delivered price of $12,500, Gable’s 300Sc cost more than his recently purchased 300SL Gullwing, indeed more than any American luxury car. The only US car that could compare in elegance to Gable’s 300Sc in 1956 would be the Continental Mark II , a limited production coupe that sold for $10,000 – Ford reportedly lost money on each example built. A Cadillac Eldorado was a bargain at just $6,648!


    The three-litre, six-cylinder 300S (W188) was first exhibited in October 1951 at the Paris Motor Show, production commencing in 1952. It was based on the W186 300 that had debuted earlier the same year at the Frankfurt show in April, Mercedes’ top of the range limousine that soon became popular with VIPs including Chancellor Konrad Adenauer whose name is now associated with the model.

    The W188 300S used a 150mm shorter version of the W186 300’s chassis and was offered as a coupe, a roadster and a cabriolet A, the roadster almost identical to the cabriolet A, but with a lighter, fully retractable roof. Until 1955, all three models in the exclusive 300S range were powered by Mercedes’ M188 straight-six that developed 148bhp and 170lb ft torque. Between 1952 and 1955, 203 Mercedes- Benz 300S Cabriolet As were built, along with 216 coupes and 141 roadsters.

    At the 1955 Frankfurt show, the 300Sc was presented to replace the 300S range. Thanks to direct fuel injection, power went up to 173bhp, while out back, Mercedes introduced its low pivot, independent rear suspension. One visual change to the exterior was a pair of chrome strips on the front wings, plus ‘Einspritzmotor’ was embossed on the rear bumper, denoting fuel injection. The same three body shapes were produced as before. There was the 300Sc Coupe of which 98 were built between December 1955 and April 1958, the 300Sc Roadster of which 53 were built between January 1956 and February 1958 and this, the most rare, the 300Sc Cabriolet A, built from January 1956 until July 1957, of which just 49 rolled off the production line.


    So this is an exclusive classic and one with a superstar owner, only endowing this gorgeous motorcar with yet more kudos. Clark Gable’s beloved 300Sc was stored in a garage at his ranch in Encino for more than 20 years following his death in November 1960 at the age of 59. And this is where this Mercedes’ second owner enters the picture. Bruce Meyer is well known in the United States as a car collector – others in his collection include a 1937 Bugatti Type 57C Ventoux, the first Corvette to race at Le Mans and the first production Shelby Cobra Roadster. Having previously restored another 300Sc Cabriolet A, Meyer knew that Gable’s 300Sc was in storage in Encino and throughout the late 1970s he tried to acquire the car from Gable’s widow. Finally, in 1981, after selling his 300Sc, Meyer purchased the car from Kay Gable.

    “What makes this car so special, beyond the fact it was once owned by Clark Gable,” Meyer tells us, “is its originality. Gable took great care with all his cars and the 300Sc was no different. At the end of his life it was his favourite car, you could say that it was his daily driver.”

    Driving from one location to another in Beverly Hills, I was struck at just how tight and rattle free the Mercedes-Benz cabriolet is, a car that is just a year younger than I am and that now has a touch over 33,000 miles on its odometer. We pull into the home of Stanley Gold, the former Disney executive and noted Porsche collector whose mansion bears something of a resemblance to Tara’s in Gone with the Wind. “The car is completely original, except for the front seats’ leather upholstery,” comments Meyer. “The paint is as it left the Mercedes factory, as is the top, which I’ve never lowered, and the interior wood is flawless. But the element that sets this car apart from any other 300Sc can be found on the glove box, a St Christopher’s medal clearly engraved with the initials ‘CG.’ I don’t show this car often but I can tell you that I still enjoy every moment behind the wheel. I’ve driven it as far away as San Diego, a round trip of 260 miles.”


    The 300Sc cars find themselves at a crossroads in the history of Mercedes-Benz. In terms of design, styling, construction and their hand built nature, they are clearly linked to the great pre-war Mercedes-Benz motorcars. And at the same time, they personify the German economic miracle of the 1950s and its recovery from the devastation of World War Two. It is incredible to think that the company was able to turn itself around and rebuild itself so quickly. Less than a decade after the declaration of peace, Mercedes-Benz was once again producing some of the world’s finest motorcars and attracting some of the world’s greatest superstars, celebrities like Clark Gable, who could afford the very best and naturally gravitated towards the three-pointed star.

    The car is just so tight and rattle free, even with a touch over 33,000 miles on its odometer.
    This is the most rare variant, of which just 49 rolled off the production line.
    This 300Sc was the last car Gable purchased in his lifetime, reportedly one of his favourites.

    TECHNICAL DATA #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300-Cabriolet-A-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-M199 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes-Benz-Cabriolet-W188 / #Mercedes-Benz-Adenauer-Cabriolet / #Mercedes-Benz-Type-300-Cabriolet / #Konrad-Adenauer / #Adenauer / #William-Clark-Gable / #Clark-Gable / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A-W188-Clark-Gable / #Mercedes-Benz-300Sc-Cabriolet-A-Clark-Gable / #Mercedes-Benz-Clark-Gable /

    Engine #M199 2,996cc 6-cyl
    Power 173bhp @ 5,400rpm
    Torque 188lb ft @ 4,300rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    Weight 1,780kg
    0-62mph 14.0sec
    Top speed 112mph
    Fuel consumption 22.6mpg
    Years produced 1956-1957


    Rare, beautiful and kept in stunning condition throughout its 56-year life, this classic cabriolet is a very special treat for the senses Figures for car as pictured; fuel consumption determined at of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent.

    This archive shot shows #Clark-Gable with this very #Mercedes-Benz .
    Since being built in 1956, this cabriolet has only covered a little over 33,000 miles.
    Beautifully simple, the chrome trimmed speedo takes centre stage.
    The original Becker Mexico radio remains on the car’s dashboard.
    The car is totally original, apart from the leather trim on the two front seats.
    Fitted luggage secured with leather straps within the curved rear.
    This plate is yet to collect dirt and confirms that it is a #1956 car.
    Current owner Bruce Meyer has never lowered the fabric roof, preserving its condition.
    Earlier W188s had 148bhp, 173bhp for these 300Sc cars.
    The St Christopher’s medal bearing the ‘CG’ inscription.
    Whitewall tyres and chrome hubs offset the brown paint.
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  •   Jeff Koch reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Cool cruise. The ultimate version of the R107 roadster, the 5.5-litre 560SL launched in #1986 , was never sold in European markets, and most went to the US. Rich Truesdell tried a lovely example in California Images Rich Truesdell.

    Classic roadster 560SL

    “One of just 5,351 produced for the 1989 calendar year, the 560SL was in exceptional condition, nicely broken in with just 87,000 miles”

    The R107 #Mercedes-Benz roadster enjoyed the longest production run of any passenger car in the history of the marque, from 1971 to 1989, assuming of course we discount the utility G-Wagen. With the frantic pace of change in today’s automotive world, it is impossible to imagine a single car, from a major manufacturer, being produced fundamentally unchanged, for 18 years. But to put things into perspective, the handsome R107 was built from the height of the Cold War to the fall of the Berlin Wall. It is a remarkable story.

    And the R107, along with its longer companion, the C107 coupe, was produced in more than a dozen different variants to satisfy markets around the world, in six- and eight-cylinder versions. And of course it should come as no surprise that the United States was one, if not the most important overseas market for this, the most sporting model in the Mercedes- Benz line up.

    In the late 1960s, when the car was conceived as a replacement for the W113 Pagoda, the influence of the all important US market affected its design. At the time it was thought that impending roll over regulations would legislate the traditional convertible out of the marketplace. This was not lost on the product planners at Stuttgart, even as far back as 1968 when the replacement for the much loved W113 SL was first deliberated over.

    The discussion centred on if what would become the R107 should have a targa style top, or a cloth top and removable hardtop. In the end, the decision was made to go the traditional route, the US market be damned. This is attributed to the staunch support of Hans Scherenberg, then the Head of Development who said at the time, “The SL gave me great pleasure, but also caused me great trouble. This was no easy decision for us.”

    At the same time, the board discussed offering a companion four-seat coupe, a decision that would be initially postponed. One group within Mercedes-Benz management supported building a sporting coupe based on the upcoming W116 S-Class platform, but this was ruled out because such a model would take several years to design and develop. According to the official Mercedes- Benz history it was Karl Wilfert, then the head of body design in Sindelfingen, who developed on his own, a coupe proposal based on the R107. At first it was rejected by the board of management but the determined Wilfert managed to push through his idea of a sporty coupe.

    Ultimately the R107 based tin top was introduced as the C107 SLC and built from 1972 until 1981 – just half the SL’s lifespan and, with 62,888 examples manufactured, a mere quarter of the roadster’s production.

    Beyond the consideration of the US market, safety was a major goal of the R107 programme. While it can be said that the R107 would combine the mechanical components of the mid sized W114 with the larger engines offered from the W116, the R107 programme offered safety innovations of its own especially with regard to further development of front and rear crumple zones.

    The backbone of the R107 series featured an independent frame floor unit with a closed transmission tunnel and box shaped cross and longitudinal members, which used sheet metal of different thicknesses, further improving performance should the car become involved in an accident.

    The fuel tank was moved to a position above the rear axle, to minimise the possibility of it being ruptured in a rear end collision. The R107 was not simply a shortened and reinforced saloon floor assembly, as in the W113, but was in essence a unique platform. Once the decision was made to go the soft top route, the determination was made to reinforce the A-pillar surrounding the windscreen, to a degree not previously attained. In the end the A-pillar was designed with 50 per cent more strength than before to provide occupants with some protection in a roll over accident.

    The interior also benefited from many passive safety innovations, a hallmark of the cars developed under the direction of the legendary engineer, Béla Barényi. The father of modern passive safety, Barényi saw to it that the interior of the R107 bristled with innovation. The previous hard dashboard made way for an innovative sheet steel design that was designed to yield on impact. In addition to generous padding for the instrument panel the knee area was also foam padded.

    The polyurethane foam padded, four-spoke steering wheel absorbed crash energy more efficiently than previously. With a fresh look that owed little to previous interiors, the R107’s cockpit was Mercedes’ first modern passenger compartment and served as a precursor to those that would follow, especially for the upcoming S-Class. At the time of its launch in 1971, the R107 was an immediate hit worldwide.

    But back then few people would have predicted that its production run would last almost two decades. Over that time, the US would see five presidents occupy the White House: Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, and finally – for a short time – the first President Bush.

    In the US the first R107 launched was the 350SL but this was a little confusing, as under the hood was found a 4.5-litre V8, the smaller engined version deemed insufficient for the US market. This was due in part to the 1970 US Clean Air Act that strangled all engines in the effort to reduce tailpipe emissions.

    What also distinguished the US SLs from their European counterparts were their round headlights, as a result of the US mandates in place at the time the R107 was introduced. This didn’t stop many US owners from installing Euro style single headlights to give their SLs a distinctive look over the years, and even though the headlight laws changed in 1975, SLs destined for North America sported round head lights to the end of production in 1989.

    In the 1970s and 1980s, the R107 SL defined the marque in the US, establishing Mercedes-Benz as the car that was engineered like no other in the world, its benchmark advertising tag line of the era. In its day the R107 was the choice of many A-list celebrities, especially in Hollywood and became a pop culture icon, appearing in dozens of movies. The 560SL appeared in autumn 1985 for the 1986 model year, for sale in the US, Japan and Australia, coinciding with a minor facelift for the R107. Its 5.5-litre V8 came with a standard fit catalyst (three years before this became mandatory in Europe), hence power was 227bhp compared to the 238 and later 296bhp that the non cat, European spec version of this engine gave in the S-Class saloon and coupe. Its derestricted potential is one reason many R107 fans in Europe feel cheated that it was never sold there.

    That it spanned the transition of cars like the almost delicate W113 Pagoda to the tank like R129 that followed is a testimony to the inherent excellence of the original design, conceived at the end of the 1960s. But as the R107 departed the scene in 1989, in the US, Mercedes- Benz faced new challengers, first from BMW, then from Lexus. But it’s impossible to imagine either marque, no matter how successful, producing a car that could match its longevity.

    Owner’s view

    California resident Michael Mendonca already owned an R107 450SL when he bought his 560SL
    To track down a late example of the 560SL, one of 49,347 built over a four-year production run, Classic Mercedes looked west, all the way to sunny southern California to find this car, a final year 1989 model owned by financial planner Michael Mendonca. But this 560SL is neither his first nor his only Mercedes-Benz SL.

    “I waited until relatively late in life to own my first classic car,” says Michael who at one time worked in the marketing department of the famed Ford Mustang tuner, Saleen. “It was a 1979 Mercedes-Benz 450SL, which I still own. I enjoy the 560SL quite a bit, but still use both these cars as second and third vehicles. I liked the car ever since having seen the movie American Gigolo with Richard Gere back in high school.”

    One of just 5,351 produced for the 1989 calendar year, the 560SL was in exceptional condition, nicely broken in with just 87,000 miles, and talking with Michael about how he acquired the car illustrates how easy it is to find such a good example in the US. “I actually wasn’t looking for another SL since I owned the 450, but the 560 was in such great shape and the price was right that I could not pass up the deal. I enjoy also that the cars are considered classics and I can get classic car insurance on the cars, which keeps my overhead down.”

    “I attend the Cars and Coffee show in Irvine, California on a regular basis and saw the car for sale,” relates Michael. (Cars and Coffee is the legendary yet informal car show held every Saturday morning at the former headquarters of Ford’s Premier Auto Group that once included Aston Martin Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln and Volvo). “A friend of mine wanted the car but could not come up with the cash so I grabbed the car from who turned out to be a really nice guy. The owner happened to live in the same city I reside in, which made the purchase quite easy.”

    “I’ve owned the 560 about a year and a half now and usually take it out for a drive once or twice a week,” says Michael in a follow up interview when we photographed the car several weeks later. “I especially enjoy the car in the spring and summer.”

    Michael Mendonca drives his SL for pleasure, on classic insurance.

    “The United States was one, if not the most important overseas markets for this, the most sporting model in the Mercedes-Benz line up”

    TECHNICAL DATA SPECIFICATIONS #Mercedes-Benz-560SL-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-560SL / #Mercedes-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-R107 / #Mercedes-Benz-M117 / #Mercedes-Benz-560SL-USA / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes /

    Engine #M117 5,547cc #V8
    Power 227bhp @ 4,750rpm
    Torque 275b f t @ 3,250rpm
    Transmission 4-speed automatic, RWD
    Weight 1,715kg
    0-62mph 7.7sec
    Top speed 139mph
    Years produced #1986 / #1987 / #1988 / #1989
    Number built 49,347
    All figures from Mercedes-Benz

    Above. SL’s cabin is a neat fit, but is beautifully finished and with lovely tan leather.
    ABOVE LEFT. The warm, sunny climate in southern California suits the R107 perfectly.
    Twin headlamps and rubber edged bumpers mark out the North American R107s.
    Chromed wheels more more popular in the US than in European markets.
    Above. SL’s dash is a masterpiece; outside temp gauge is in place of the middle vent.
    ABOVE right. US emissions tuned V8 had 227bhp, way down on European spec 5.5-litre.
    ABOVE far right. This 560SL was a great find, barely run in having covered just 89,330 miles.
    The boot, or should that be trunk, looks quite small but you can pack a lot into it.
    ABOVE LEFT. Original Becker Grand Prix radio/cassette is still in place and looks fantastic.
    ABOVE right. In reality the R107’s rear seat is a very luxurious fold down parcel shelf.

    “In the US, the first R107 launched was the 350SL but this was confusing, as under the hood was found a 4.5-litre V8”
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  •   Adam Towler reacted to this post about 3 years ago
    Classic choice 190SL


    With a rare factory hardtop, this 190SL can be transformed from a traditional roadster into a headturning coupe, only adding to its appeal. Words Richard Truesdell. Images Richard Truesdell/Daimler AG.

    When #Mercedes-Benz unveiled the SLK I and SLK II concepts in 1994, it wasn’t lost on marque enthusiasts that the manufacturer was reviving an idea from its illustrious past, that of the smaller, more lightweight, grand touring cars that lacked the power and pace of the maker’s most expensive two seaters, but were less hard on the wallet and still had the good looks and elegance of their bigger siblings. When the production ready R170 SLK was introduced in 1996, complete with its clever vario-roof, it ushered in the modern era of more affordable sports cars and two seaters with retractable hardtops.

    Of course, Mercedes’ original compact roadster was the W121 190SL , which made its debut at the New York International Motor Sports Show in February 1954 alongside its 300SL Gullwing stablemate, from which its enviable looks derived. It was presented as a prototype and after further testing and refinement, the final production version premiered at the Geneva show in March 1955. Yet while the 190SL shares styling elements with the 300SL , structurally it has much more in common with the Ponton saloons.

    The 190SL ’s chassis is a shortened version of the Ponton’s, its more modest performance meaning the 300SL ’s tubular space frame chassis was not necessary. Instead of the 2,996cc, 212bhp/203lb ft torque six that the powers the 300SL , under the 190’s bonnet is a 1,897cc, four-cylinder unit developing 104bhp and 105lb ft torque. Paired with an all syncromesh, four-speed manual transmission using a floor mounted shifter, the oversquare unit’s pace was leisurely but adequate, giving a 0-62mph time of 14.5 seconds with a top speed in excess of 100mph. Its as delivered price in the US (New York) at its 1955 introduction was $3,998, the optional hardtop a $300 extra. The 190SL enjoyed a long production run until February 1963 with 25,881 units produced before it was replaced by the W113 230SL Pagoda. This figure includes the coupe version built alongside the roadster.


    All of this serves as background for this feature car, a #1959 / #1959-Mercedes-Benz-190SL owned by Nelson Jones of San Marino, California. After viewing this pretty, silver roadster at the 2012 San Marino Motor Classic, we pursued it because of its most distinctive feature: the rare, removable hardtop that has a wrap-around rear window. Looking closer, we noticed ‘190SL’ script adorning each side. In researching this feature we discovered that cars built before 1959 lacked the wrap-around glass. And all of the factory photographs, including one dated 1959, show the roof without the distinctive 190SL script found on this example. In fact, extensive research did not turn up a single 190SL with a removable roof featuring this 190SL script, which left us wondering if it was something added at some point in the car’s life, maybe during the roof ’s restoration.

    Nelson Jones and his wife Mimi are now retired, but in his working years, Jones was a developer of commercial retail properties and his automotive passions are eclectic. He owns several pre-war Packards, an exact duplicate of his first car which was a 1950 Chevrolet convertible, a fully restored, heavy duty Chevrolet truck from 1940, an original 1993 military Humvee and several tractors, but Jones is also drawn to cars bearing the three-pointed star. In addition to the 190SL featured here, he also owns a flawless 1956 300Sc Coupe, similar to friend Vin Di Bona’s (Mercedes Enthusiast February 2012) except that it lacks a sunroof. He certainly has a diverse collection!

    Jones acquired this 190SL after seeing it in the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA’s Pebble Beach display in 2009. After Pebble Beach, he visited Mercedes’ classic showroom in Irvine and began negotiations to buy the 190SL and at the same time asked if it would be possible to locate the rare matching hardtop. With its worldwide resources, the Classic Center was indeed able to source a hardtop, albeit one that was in need of total restoration.


    “I wanted a car that had a matching coloured hardtop,” begins Jones. “It’s my opinion that with the factory removable hardtop, the automobile does not look like a convertible but instead looks like a coupe from its inception, a very handsome thing to view, in my opinion. But, the car under consideration did not have a hardtop available. No problem, the Classic Center went out into the marketplace and acquired a hardtop for my future car. It was necessary to do a full restoration on the hardtop including new headlining. After some discussion with the staff at the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center, I acquired this automobile from them. The odometer reading was approximately 46,000 miles which is believed to be the original mileage.” And does he know anything about the origins of the script on the hardtop? “During the restoration process of the roof, in talking with the Classic Center they asked me if I wanted to retain the 190SL script on the hardtop,” he tells us. “As I liked the look, I asked them to attach the script using double-sided tape instead of permanently attaching the trim to the hardtop.”

    So while this 190SL’s rare hardtop was purchased for purely aesthetic reasons – and it looks very handsome and has great presence with its hardtop in place – it is wonderful to learn that this Mercedes-Benz wasn’t just bought to be looked at and polished. “I attempt to drive all of my automobiles on a monthly basis as it is my opinion that this procedure keeps them limbered up, which is very desirable,” Jones tells us. “While I have not yet taken the Mercedes on any extended trips, I don’t hesitate to drive perhaps 100 miles or so to a meet or show. I belong to the Mercedes-Benz Club of America, the International 190SL Group, Gull Wing Group International and the Classic Car Club of America.”

    When photographing the car at Jones’ ranch two hours north of Los Angeles where he stores his collection, we were struck by the fact that the car lacked carpets. He explained that the rubber floor mats in front of the seats were period correct, something that was verified by looking at factory photographs of the interior, as all the 190SLs pictured lacked carpet as well.


    With its modest performance compared to its bigger engined brother, the 300SL, the 190SL was always much more a grand touring car than an out and out sports car, something apparent in reading contemporary roadtests from both sides of the Atlantic. Yet 49 years after it went out of production, the 190SL still has that special appeal that made it the darling of enthusiasts when new. Its charm captivated many and famous 190SL owners included Alfred Hitchcock, Frank Sinatra, Sandra Dee, Tuesday Weld and Grace Kelly. And we can’t forget that singer-songwriter Sheryl Crow auctioned her personal 190SL last year at Pebble Beach for a charity that benefited tornado relief in Joplin, Missouri. It sold for a then record $143,000 (around £90,000), exceeding the pre auction estimate of $100,000, setting a new benchmark for 190SLs.

    Looking at this gorgeous, compact, classic roadster, it seems unfair that the 190SL has been in the shadow of its 300SL sibling for so long. With its neatly proportioned body that oozes 1950s glamour, cool and suave, any 190SL that has survived the ravages of time (and rust) will surely be a delightful motorcar to be enjoyed and cherished for decades to come. The enthusiastic owners of the many surviving 190SLs are very lucky indeed.

    This roadster has the rare, removable hardtop that features a wrap-around rear window.

    I don’t hesitate to drive perhaps 100 miles or so to a meet or show in my 190SL.

    JUST THE FACTS #Mercedes-Benz-190SL-Roadster-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-190SL / #Mercedes-Benz-190SL-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-SL / #Mercedes-Benz-SL-W121 / #Mercedes-Benz-M121 / #Mercedes-Benz / #Mercedes /

    Engine #M121 1,897cc 4-cyl
    Power 104bhp @ 5,700rpm
    Torque 105lb ft @ 3,200rpm
    Transmission 4-speed manual, RWD
    Weight 1,140kg
    0-62mph 14.5sec
    Top speed 106-112mph
    Fuel consumption 32.8mpg
    Years produced 1955-1963


    Today this pretty, diminutive, classic SL is still as charming as ever Figures for a 1959 190SL as pictured; the weight quoted is without the hardtop fitted; fuel consumption determined at ¾ of top speed (not more than 110km/h, 68mph) plus 10 per cent.

    Removing the heavy top is a two-man job.
    Do Mercedes dials get any prettier than these?
    The SL’s two-valve, 104bhp M121 motor.
    The attractive, original radio remains.
    The origin of the roof’s script is unknown.
    Only from 1959 did hardtops have this elegant, curved glass.
    The sleek, low roof gives the 190SL a racy, seductive, coupe look.
    Mimi and Nelson Jones enjoy their SL.
    The cabin is in fantastic condition.
    The 190SL and 300SL debuted in New York in February 1954.
    A spare wheel and a decent sized boot come with this handsome, classic SL.
    The Mercedes-Benz Classic Center USA sourced and restored the rare hardtop.
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