This head turner grabbed my attention one morning on the automotive portion of my commute. I yammered on about its coolness to my lovely bride until we reached our parking spot, and then beat feet up to Fairview to see if it was still there. It was; parked across the street from Inner Chapters Books.
These cars look like the iconic 300SL. Those rain gutter-like fender flares never cease to grab my attention with thoughts of Stirling Moss, John Fitch, and stories of racing glory in the Mille Miglia. However, comparison to the legendary 300SL is not fair to this car. This little fellow is a stylish grand tourer in its own right.
Wide and low, it presented an aggressive and modern face compared to its European contemporaries, the Jaguar XK140 and MGA. It is perhaps similar in market mission to the Ford Thunderbird, as a personal luxury car. I think the styling of the 190SL roadster presents a more sporting flair than the Thunderbird, and more modern performance than was offered by the British.
The sleek 190SL shares its chassis with the upright and dowdy Ponton benzes instead of the bespoke tube-frame 300SL exotics. That doesn't stop these cars from having an arresting presence, perhaps in spite of the level of performance they offered.
This car was not particularly athletic with a 1.9 liter 104 horsepower 4 cylinder engine saddled with toting 2600 lbs across Bavarian hills and dales. For its time (1955 to 1963) this level of performance was acceptable.
This car is the quintessential sports model. Built on a sedan's running gear, it put its best face forward. And does so quite well. I can imagine this car idling stylishly through the pedestrian traffic of Florence, carting some ersatz supermodel to a gig.
Even with its saloon car roots, this nonchalant grand tourer is worthy of a longing glance when seen parked on the street.