1955: The 190SL Debuts
In May 1955, the Gullwing – of which almost 500 units had meanwhile been supplied to customers all over the world – was joined by a new family member, the 190 SL. The little brother, it’s prototype having been displayed alonside the 300SL in New York as early as February 1954, had been revised stylistically and resembled the 300 SL in its appealing design.
Its four-cylinder engine with an output of 105 hp was far from generating the Gullwing’s outstanding performance but it did permit a respectable top speed of 170 km/h. The small SL was particularly popular with the ladies who appreciated not only the car’s sporting, elegant outfit but also the possibility of open-top motoring. The two-seater was equipped with a recessible roadster top and optionally available with a removable hardtop.
The 190 SL, of which 25,881 units were produced until 1963, marked the beginning of a unique roadster tradition which has been continued to this day. Since 1996, Mercedes-Benz has been offering the equally successful SLK-Class in the 190 SL market segment, the SLK being one of the most popular cabriolets not just because of its styling and its innovative vario roof.