The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL is a Mille Miglia car

Words John Clark | November 30, 2015
New findings make it possible for the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL to take part in the present-day Mille Miglia
Words John Clark November 30, 2015

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

Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121, 1955 to 1963). Contemporary advertising photo taken in the 1950s on the island of Sylt

Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121, 1955 to 1963). Contemporary advertising photo taken in the 1950s on the island of Sylt

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

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

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