1956 Mercedes 190 SL

The 190 SL was built to be a 300 SL for the masses, and is far less satisfying from behind the wheel.

The 190 SL was built to be a 300 SL for the masses, and is far less satisfying from behind the wheel.

The weedy 1.9-litre engine can’t match the might of the 3.0-litre straight-six and the car would give a Citroen 2CV a run for its money for body roll in corners.

But one look at the arrow-like wheelarches, bonnet bulges and frog-eye lights, and all is forgiven. This has to be one of the most seductive shapes on the road – which is probably why Mercedes shifted over 25,000 190 SLs in eight years.

Think of the car as the spiritual predecessor to the modern-day SLK, and the 300 SL Gullwing as the pre-cursor to the SLS AMG, and it all makes sense.

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