Mercedes-Benz manufactured a total of 25,881 of the small 190 SL sports cars from 1955 to 1963. During the 1960 model year 3,977 of them were built, each one with a base price of $5,240.
Dean Turner was in Pittsburgh, Pa., soon after the 21st century was ushered in, and saw one of the handsome sports cars. He was immediately smitten by the beauty of the vehicle.
After returning home to Warrenton, he began searching for a suitable 190 SL to restore for his wife, Sue.
One of the 1960 models left the factory wearing a coat of white paint and was eventually offered for sale in Lovettsville, Va., where it was discovered by Mr. Turner. The then 42-year-old convertible was in fairly good condition — considering its age — and though it had a four-speed automatic transmission, he bought it anyway. He drove the 13-foot, 10-inch-long car home July 27, 2002.
The 94.5-inch wheelbase combined with tight steering made nimble handling a joy. The steering wheel can be turned lock to lock in 3.25 turns and the car can be turned 36 feet on 13-inch tires.
The 116-cubic-inch, single overhead cam four-cylinder engine gave Mr. Turner a hard time until he sorted out the problems. He dropped the 120 horsepower engine out of the bottom and before returning it, capped it off with a new aluminum head that he found in Connecticut. Mr. Turner drove the Mercedes-Benz enough the first year to keep the juices flowing while he examined the car and diagnosed the parts he needed for a complete restoration.
After a year spent gathering the required parts Mr. Turner set out to return the car to its former glory.
Where improved parts were available, he opted for them, such as a starter and an alternator. Countless hours were spent under the car with a torch and scraper attacking and removing aftermarket undercoating.
The worn red leather upholstery was removed and Mr. Turner said he purchased a hide and a half that was dyed the proper shade of red to reupholster the interior. While he worked on the Mercedes-Benz he sent off much of the chrome trim to be related.
When the time came to paint his 190 SL, Mr. Turner could not bring himself to reapply the white color the car was originally painted.
He examined the Mercedes-Benz color charts and found a color that nearly satisfied him. Then, one day on the road he saw a new Pontiac Solstice sports car painted a shade different than his Mercedes-Benz and, preferring that color, opted for that color instead.
But there was a problem. Mr. Turner bought the paint and delivered it to the shop that was going to paint his car.
When he went back to get his car he found it with a beautiful coat of paint, but it wasn’t his paint. It was a different color.
The paint shop had stripped off the wrong color paint and sprayed the car.
The shop had also painted the hubcaps the body color after Mr. Turner had masked the Mercedes-Benz three-pointed stars with tape.
The black convertible top is held in place by three chrome-plated latches above the windshield in addition to 14 snaps that secure the top when in the raised position.
An ashtray is in the dashboard, as is the chrome-plated map light. The glove compartment door houses the clock. Mr. Turner has located a Becker brand radio he plans to install.
At the right rear of the sports car is the gasoline cap on the 17-gallon tank that features the three-pointed star of Mercedes-Benz.
A feature on his car that he never tires of is the 360-degree chrome horn ring on the two-spoke steering wheel. The horn ring can be turned left or right to activate the turn signals.
Earlier this summer Mr. Turner declared the restoration complete and took the first test drive July 6. His car has only a left outside mirror, but he is quick to point out that he only drives the car in top-down weather so his visibility is unimpaired.