In 1953 and into 1954, Mercedes Benz tested and exhibited an all new prototype and preproduction vehicle that would go into production in early 1955 as the new 190SL. Later in 1954 in order to make the upcoming 190SL practical for production line assembly, they completed the 1st Preproduction example using the internal “Werks” or internal factory chassis number, “8467121081/1.” This is the subject vehicle seen here in this video.
1954 Mercedes Benz 190SL Preproduction Vehicle 1
This 1954 Mercedes-Benz 190SL was almost destined for destruction, and then it got given away for free, and now it’s for sale. There’s a lot more that happened in between, but the most important detail is that this car, chassis 5500001, is now for sale, with bidding currently underway on Bring a Trailer.
As the story goes, in 1953 and 1954, Mercedes was testing and showing off the first all-new prototype of the car that would go into production in early 1955 as the new 190SL. But this early car was not really a true representation of the production car, and when the project was greenlit, Mercedes needed to create a 190SL template to enable assembly on a production line.
This second prototype bore the internal “Werks” or factory chassis number 8467121081/1, but after a short period of testing and evaluation, Mercedes repurposed the car in October 1964, bringing it up to production standards. Not long after, it was given a new chassis number (121042-5500001), a new body number (RA 121042-4500001), and a new engine number (121-921-4500001).
The car entered the official register on January 19, 1955, after it was completed. However, despite being assigned the very first production numbers, repurposing the car as a production vehicle took longer than building the other cars, and examples 00002 and 00003 were completed first.
After 00001 was completed, it sat on the production line for a further seven months, acting as a test fitting vehicle for the first 190SLs to roll off the production line. Finally, just before the final quarter of the year, the car would see the road as something more than a prototype.
Asked to provide a righthand-drive sports car for an English diplomat in August 1955, Mercedes quickly had 00001’s steering converted. The car was then road-tested before being gifted to the diplomat on October 18, 1955. Curiously, it was registered under its old Werks chassis number, and only 70 years later, when it was restored, did its documentation match its history with the 1955 chassis number.
Unsurprisingly, for a car like this, the true mileage is unknown, but it comes with a replacement 1.9-liter single-cam four-cylinder, silver paint, a blue convertible top, blue leather upholstery, and a body-color hardtop. Sadly, the hardtop was damaged during stripping, so you’ll need to pony up for a restoration.
With eight days to go, the current bidding is $100,000. For a car as beautiful and as special as this, that may be a bargain – especially when a modern-day Mercedes-AMG SL costs more, even in base SL43 form.