20th Sep, 2023 12:00

30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire

Lot 386

1959 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL
A rare and very low mileage RHD example

Estimated at £140,000 - £160,000

Lot details

Registration No: 5 BOF
Chassis No: 121040-20-014566
MOT: Exempt

  • 1 of just 562 cars built across all right-hand drive markets
  • Known to the vendor and his family for the past forty-five years or so
  • Subject to a bare-metal, photographically documented respray, partial engine overhaul, new interior and sundry mechanical fettling in 2023 with minimal use since
  • Finished in its original shade of Fire Engine Red with complementary Cream leather upholstery and both soft plus rare hardtop roofs
  • 1 of just 3,949 190SLs made during the 1959 production year
  • Believed to have covered just 29,700 miles from new and retained by its last registered custodian for thirty-four years
  • Just 3 former keepers shown on its V5C Registration Document

The 190SL was introduced in 1955 – the year Mercedes swept all before it on the Mille Miglia with the 300SLR. Indeed, the graceful, new two-door, convertible grand tourer was sold alongside the road-going version of the SLR – the 300SL - whose styling it strongly resembled. In fact, the underpinnings of the two cars were quite different and, while the 300SL had a purpose-built tubular spaceframe (W198), its smaller sibling was built on a shortened version of the ‘Ponton’ saloon (W121) platform, which was of monocoque construction. The 190SL also boasted an all-new engine - an over-square SOHC straight-four unit of 1897cc that produced some 120bhp, which was sufficient to propel the car to a maximum speed of 112mph. The engine was coupled to a manual four-speed gearbox. The suspension comprised double wishbones and coil springs at the front and a coil-sprung swing axle at the rear. Steering was by recirculating ball and braking by power-assisted drums all round. Built to the highest standards and among the quickest comparable cars of the time, the 190SL featured a well-appointed cockpit, notable comfort for its occupants and relatively generous luggage space. Under the circumstances, even the steep asking price of £2,693 did nothing to deter purchasers. Options included a third seat placed transversely behind the front ones which was big enough to carry an adult. The 190SL continued in production until 1963, when both it and the 300SL were replaced by the 230SL (W113). By this time 25,881 190SLs had been produced, just over two percent of which – some 562 cars - were to right-hand drive specification with a mere 53 of those reputedly being UK-supplied.

Among a select number of right-hand drive examples that were supplied new to the UK market during the 1959 model year, chassis 121.040-20-014566 was originally finished in the striking hue of DB534 Feuerwehrrot (Fire Engine Red). Issued with the distinctive registration number ‘5 BOF’ on 23rd September 1959, the two-seater has spent the majority of its life in Surrey. Bewitched by the 190SL’s styling, a sixteen year old Michael Pearce bought it from Banstead Motors during 1968 by which time the exterior colour had been changed to Grey (though, the Red painted dashboard and Cream upholstery remained untouched). Known to his family for the past four and a half decades, the vendor still vividly recalls encountering the Mercedes-Benz and its last registered keeper (who retained possession for thirty-four years) at a Camberley petrol station. The proprietor of a classic car restoration business for whom we achieved a world record price for a right-hand drive 190SL of £219,375 at IWM Duxford in November 2021, the vendor is familiar with the model and jumped at the opportunity to acquire ‘5 BOF’ when it came to market from a deceased estate earlier this year.

The two-seater’s late custodian is understood to have treated it to an engine overhaul and bodywork restoration some years ago but the seller could not resist refreshing the cosmetics and undertaking some mechanical fettling. Having known the car for so long and the minimal usage that its last two keepers put it to, he is confident that the 29,700 shown on the odometer represents the total covered from new! Citing the condition of the underside as further evidence of low mileage, he tells us that he has spent circa £30,000 on rejuvenating the Mercedes-Benz including an exterior bare metal respray, new interior and partial engine overhaul (with the original Solex carburettors being reinstated). Shod with a new set of whitewall tyres which help accentuate the shiny Fire Engine Red paintwork, the 190SL boasts a matching hardtop as well as a Black soft-top roof. The glovebox has an inset clock and the dashboard carries a Becker Mexico radio which is thought to be original to the car. Still among the most attractive Mercedes-Benz cars ever made, this rare and desirable right-hand drive 190SL is offered for sale with V5C Registration Document, original handbook and history file.

For more information, please contact:
Damian Jones
07855 493737


Auction: 30th Anniversary Sale at The Imperial War Museum | Duxford, Cambridgeshire, 20th Sep, 2023

Established in 1993, H&H has sold some of the world's most significant motorcars and motorcycles over the past 30 years. Now owned by its employees and trusted by over 75,000 clients worldwide, we are the longest established auction house of our kind in Europe.


Buyers, bidders and attendees will enjoy a special day in the prestigious Imperial War Museum with some fantastic treats including.
Drinks Reception   |   Music   |   Guest Speakers

With each successful bidder receiving a specially selected hamper.

Watch the website for more details.


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Tuesday 19th September 2023 from 1pm to 8pm
Wednesday 20th September 2023 from 9am


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All successful bids must be paid in full by midday the day after the auction at the latest.

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