New findings make it possible for the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL to take part in the modern-day Mille Miglia. The right to participate is reserved for models represented in the original road race held from 1927 to 1957 — and a 190 SL took part in the “1000 Miles” from Brescia to Rome and back in 1956. That year’s race featured a total of 15 Mercedes-Benz vehicles, six of them works cars: three “Ponton” Type 220 special touring cars and three 300 SL “Gullwing” models.
The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W 121) had its premiere in 1954 along with the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” (W 198) at the International Motor Sports Show in New York. As well as sharing the limelight with the sports car, it had similar styling, but was offered as a Roadster from the start. Research conducted in the Mercedes-Benz Classic archives led to the 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 asked the organiser of the Mille Miglia to add the 190 SL to the list of vehicles authorised to take part in the event.
“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,” said 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 and 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.
The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL 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 190 SL was priced at 16,500 Marks in Germany in its day.
[Source: Mercedes-Benz; photo: Julien Mahiels]