Distressed Icon: ’56 190SL rescued from destruction.

190SL FB

Distressed Icon
Rescuing yet another 190SL

It’s been over 55 years since the last 190SL, serial number 25805, rolled of the assembly line on Tuesday December 18, 1962. With a total production of 25,881 units you would think that six decades of searching by enthusiasts would have uncovered all the 190SLs that survived the vicissitudes exacted by their often neglectful owners.

“This brutally ravaged 1956 190SL had been resting barely 5 minutes south of my office.”

When values soared over the five year period from 2010-2015, the rush was on to bring long hidden cars to market by vendors and private owners alike. Rising prices during that era finally provided adequate potential value to allow owners to justify restoring the cars. And so most of the motley SLs languishing in barns, bushes and garages emerged and were restored to various levels and returned to the road. But not all of them…


Abandoned and ready to be liened and sold to oblivion. Brutally neglected 190SL will be saved.

Hidden treasure

We never know what hides behind fences, under houses and in tattered storage lots. This brutally ravaged 1956 190SL had been resting barely 5 minutes south of my office…for over 20 years. I’d driven past the facility hundreds of times during that time and only found the car via a tip from a lien sale specialist handling a massive hoard of abandoned cars. Among the vast collection of future scrap metal sat this SL, a black plate long-time California car.

190sl distress collage

Beyond repair? Absolutely not. Black plate CA car will rise again after a daunting restoration.

After extricating the car I was able to carefully inspect the structure and thankfully found all the ID tags and stamps that enabled me once again title the car  in California. While it’s quite likely the worst 190SL I’ve bought in 27 years of business, I can happily say it’s now heading back to Germany and is destined to return to the road close to where it was born.

roy spencer/editor mercedesheritage.com

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7 thoughts on “Distressed Icon: ’56 190SL rescued from destruction.

  1. M. Mitchell Marmel


    Perhaps there’s a buyer waiting for this waif in the Fatherland?


  2. John Nickols

    Roy, Why send the car to Germany? I am sure there are restoration shops in California that would love the challenge
    of bringing this 190 back to life. Certainly German shops can do stunning work but transporting to and fro must
    require a lot of faith in a works so far away.
    John Nickols
    Sacramento, CA

  3. Dag Oestlund

    Awesome. I’m glad to see that there still are some specimens of this fine engineering heritage to be found.
    I bet you had a “woohoo, come to daddy”- moment, when you found this, Roy

  4. Alberto Lodi

    Restore this car it’s not only question of business, but question of love. But I agree with Roy!

  5. Martin F. Schwartz

    It would be wonderful if the restoration process could be photographed so that we could all share in its return to glory.

  6. -Nate

    Wow ! .

    I’m well pleased to see this .

    I recall some years back you passed on a California junker that looked better than this one .

    I’m all for saving every one possible .


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