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Star Project 190SL Roadster (Part 2)

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Ravaged by the elements, this 190sl was saved promptly embarked on a mission to restore it

Likewise the upper seam of the inner wheel arch is all but gone, with perhaps only 20 per cent of the metal remaining. A view forward into the engine bay shows the front panel that sits forward of the bonnet and links the two wings. It appears solid at first glance, but the boxed section below which provides the structure’s strength has all but disappeared, while the lower front area of the offside wing is irrefutably a distant memory.

Given all these problems, the restoration at Redcastle Classics took around 14 months. “The work Brian and Simon have done is truly amazing,” enthuses Adrian. During the build, the team at Redcastle Classics, in consultation with Adrian, sought to improve upon the original specification to create a car more suited to today’s motoring needs. The rebuilt engine benefits from a camshaft from a slightly later car, which offers a smoother power delivery, while a new 1.37 ratio rear differential has replaced the car’s original 1.39 unit, bringing lower revs for any given speed, thereby reducing not  only fuel consumption, but also engine stress and noise when cruising.

The gearbox fitted now is somewhat different to the original unit too, modified internally during its rebuild, as Adrian explains. “I think the first 1,250 190SLs had a more sporting gearbox in terms of the ratios used, but Mercedes later modified the transmission to make it more suitable for touring.

In reality though, this meant that when you’re in top gear, on a motorway for example, that little four-cylinder engine is working quite hard, and frequent gear changes are required at lower speeds.

Description: http://silodrome.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/Mercedes-Benz-190-SL-Roadster-2.jpg

In reality though, this meant that when you’re in top gear, on a motorway for example, that little four-cylinder engine is working quite hard, and frequent gear changes are required at lower speeds.

“I tried unsuccessfully to source one of early gearboxes, but then I discovered that SLS [a specialists based in Barsbiittel in Germany that deals with the 190SL as well as other older Mercedes] had two countershaft gears available from the early gearbox. I snapped up those and then took them, along with my car's gearbox, to Neve Engineering in East Sussex, which manufactured a set of main shaft gears to match them. The new gearing provides much more flexibility and makes for a more comfortable and relaxing drive.”

Modern minded

To ensure a stress free car, Adrian has opted for a number of other smaller changes, including swapping the original dynamo for an alternator, while a 123ignition distributor, with adjustable advance curves, ensures a strong, well timed spark time after time, and eliminates the breakdown risks associated with bad point gapping, and pitted faces.

One of the more obvious modifications for comfort, though very few people give them a second glace, are the headrests, which were never available on the 190. “I was a little worried what they would look like,” says Adrian, “but I think they look like they could have been there from the beginning.”

For me, however, what makes this car truly stand out is its colour, which almost shimmers under the late afternoon sun. “It’s Blue metallic, which has the paint code DB387,” reveals Adrian. “As I understand it, it was a special option for the 300SE and longer wheelbase Pintails. Though it was never actually offered on the 190SL, it is a period colour.

Description:  “It’s Blue metallic, which has the paint code DB387,” reveals Adrian. “As I understand it, it was a special option for the 300SE and longer wheelbase Pintails.

It’s Blue metallic, which has the paint code DB387,” reveals Adrian. “As I understand it, it was a special option for the 300SE and longer wheelbase Pintails.

I did toy with the idea of painting the car Strawberry metallic, which was an original, special colour option, but while that might look good in California, it doesn’t seem right for South London!

Many people think of the 190SL as a lady’s car anyway, so if I turned up in a strawberry coloured one I'm not sure what the reaction would be!” Before we part, I ask Adrian if he is pleased with Redcastle Classic’s work. “Certainly,” he replies. “I can’t bear to think of these lovely cars being scrapped. As anyone undertaking this type of restoration knows, it is very likely to be an expensive exercise bur, in the end, to preserve something like this is well worth all the time and effort.” Having spent a couple of hours in the company of the car, and witnessed the high praise offered by every single person that walked past our photo-shoot, I agree entirely.

 

Description: Many people think of the 190SL as a lady’s car anyway, so if I turned up in a strawberry coloured one I'm not sure what the reaction would be!”

Many people think of the 190SL as a lady’s car anyway, so if I turned up in a strawberry coloured one I'm not sure what the reaction would be!”

 

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