Renewable part restoration
Running gear set
Body painting
Engine set
Car composing
Interior (leader, carpets, wood)

On 16 February 2007 the red Mercedes Benz 190 SL was collected in Riga. The first personal inspection led to the conclusion that the effect of the online pictures had been deceptive and in reality the car’s condition was much worse than anticipated. At least the bodywork definitely was. At the same time, the set of equipment exceeded expectations.

 Mercedes-Benz 190SL before renovation process beginsThere was even the cover of the folding roof in the boot compartment

Initial condition of Mercedes-Benz 190SL before restorationHaving pulled the roof cover onto the metal frame, we tried to raise the roof. We have succeeded in doing this and thus found proof that the frame of this car is original.

A closer inspection and stripping the bodywork revealed a litany of hidden faults.

The cracked coat of bodywork paint and lacquer was concealing a thick layer of filler and other auxiliary repair materials.

Although the engine compartment seemed to have a complete set of equipment, one could see at a glance that the carburettors were not original, the intake manifold had been rebuilt and some other modifications which differed from the original had been made. Ignition timer cap looked new and the battery was in its place. However it turned out that the motor would not start. Probably, the long downtime period had caused the pistons to corrode. A more accurate damage diagnosis would be possible only after disassembly

The personal inspection of the interior not only revealed the damages to the parts caused by wear and by time but also several careless modifications distancing the car from its original state. For instance, the radio was from a different Mercedes Benz 190 SL model.

It was also clear, that all the interior finishing materials had to be replaced with new ones.

We have begun the disassembly of the red Mercedes Benz 190 SL. The car will have to be completely disassembled to check each part, find the defects, define the scope of restoration works and list the irreparable and missing parts.

We started the disassembly by removing the door trimmings.

­Door closing limiters are present. Metal parts are covered with rust. The components must be treated and galvanized. The rubber parts have split and must be replaced.


Having removed the door trimming we found that the door internal mechanisms – the window lifters, door lock, and other parts – were a complete set and in quite good condition. They needed treatment and painting. The aluminium doors themselves were in a relatively good condition. Only the paint and lacquer were damaged. It was possible that removing the paint would reveal scratches and minor deformations, but the defects would most likely be small.

In contrast, the boot compartment was a disastrous sight. The boot floor had almost completely corroded and actually disintegrated. It was difficult to notice in the picture, however the coat of light paint was not covering any metal but several layers of filler and pieces of metal rust.

We have removed the boot lid. Like the door it was made of aluminium, and its condition was quite good in contrast to that of the luggage compartment, which was very poor. Chrome tri-point Mercedes star emblem and the letters of the writing underneath have suffered from corrosion. These parts must be treated and galvanized anew.

We have removed the folding roof frame. All the parts are present and are generally in good condition. However, the frame must be disassembled anyway for all the components must be treated and polished.

Power brake cylinder condition visually did not seem to be good, but after removing and disassembling it we found that all parts are actually repairable. Only the rubber elements had to be replaced.

Given that red Mercedes bodywork was very rusty but equipped with almost all components and the black Mercedes had almost no components but its bodywork had relatively little damage, it was decided that the black car bodywork and the red car components would be used in the restoration.
However, the red Mercedes engine does not fit the original 1956 bodywork, as it is a newer version. This means that the Dutch engine, which is not the original black Mercedes engine but corresponds to the production year, must be rebuilt. 

The ignition timer cap was almost new but it did not compensate for the rusted pistons. The car still would not start. On the side there had to be the window washing fluid tank, which in this 190 SL model original version had to be a rubber bag similar to a hot-water bottle. Here it is not so.

Looks like the intake manifold is a do-it-yourself job, and it does not correspond to the MB 190 SL model. Both carburettors did not correspond to this year MB 190 SL, but had been sourced from other cars. Neither were the carburettors nor the intake manifold present in the engine given together with the black MB 190 SL. This means that these parts must be ordered and bought.

­The radiator visually was in working condition, however its dismantling and pressure-testing showed that it still had leaks. Yet the damage was not major and the radiator is repairable. The picture shows that the carburettor springs are not original as well. So they must be ordered and bought.

The components set on the engine left side are the original set and are repairable.

Unlike the black 190 SL, the red car has the heating systems on both sides of the engine compartment as full sets. They are being removed and stripped for further treatment, restoration and painting.

Removing the battery uncovered a deep corrosion in and around its housing.

Exhaust manifold, although requiring repair, can be used in the restoration process. In its turn, the special intake manifold design does not correspond to the original.

The picture shows the general view of the right-hand heating unit. Heater, air intake pipes, fasteners are shown and are usable, but require restoration. Some heating system control wire cables are rusted and must be replaced.

In order to begin with the black MB 190 SL bodywork restoration, we have started removing the few components present in the car.

The steering wheel central contact plate has tarnished and corroded from outside. It is still repairable.

The handbrake lever chrome handle has suffered from rust. We have removed it and sent for restoration and galvanizing.

Rust has also damaged the chrome coating of all the panel decorative elements. These were removed and sent for restoration and galvanizing

­Most of the panel gauges are generally in good condition. We have removed them one by one simultaneously recording the wiring circuit scheme.

The contact plate lower part is less damaged and wire sockets are in good condition. Contact screws need treatment and galvanizing but the wire sockets are made of copper, which is much more resistant to corrosion and other adverse effects. The wire ends in the steering wheel middle part are in relatively good condition as well.

The front panel top part had to have decorative inserts, however they are rotten and only some severely damaged fragments are visible. They were removed from the panel. The glove box lid is missing in the panel. The floor has corroded in the footwell.

We have removed the windshield cleaner actuator – one of the few components present in the black 190 SL. The actuator was checked, disassembled, restored and put back together.

The heating system regulating cables have been removed. In their attachment points there are traces of corrosion. The fasteners have also been removed and together with the screws have been sent for processing and painting.

­On the engine compartment right side at the windscreen the electrical fuse block can be seen.  It is much damaged, but can be restored. We have removed it. In the top right corner of the picture the cracked windscreen can be seen.

Next to the engine oil level gauge the steering gear and the steering shaft going to the passenger compartment are visible. The steering shaft has been detached from the steering gear. The steering mechanism has been disassembled.

The engine compartment right side is freed of assemblies and components leaving the heating system cables and wiring. The battery box has rusted through and the battery acid has leaked into the passenger compartment. Now it is becoming clear why the floor under the front passenger’s feet has rusted so badly. The acid from the battery box has been leaking there.

The engine compartment left side has also been freed of parts save the wires and some cables. Heating system inlet to the passenger compartment is clearly visible.

A view of the right-hand side heating system inlet to the passenger compartment.

The corrosion around the radiator fitting points in the engine compartment front side bodywork.

­Wire brackets on the right wing. There are traces of corrosion in the brackets. The fasteners have been removed and sent for treatment and painting.

Wiring contact point in the engine compartment at the left wing. There is corrosion in the contact point. To the right above the contact point there is the bonnet support attachment. There is corrosion on it and the welding place.

­The horns are not from this make and model.

The engine compartment left side and then the right side has been freed of wiring.

The handbrake cable adjustment unit and the brake master cylinder are visible. Initial examination indicates that components may be repairable.

In the engine compartment the engine has been placed on wooden blocks and is not fastened to the frame and is not connected to the gearbox.

We have removed the front panel, then started to remove the electrical wiring and drive cables, while recording the wiring circuit scheme.

The door windows, which miraculously remained intact, have been removed. They will only need a thorough polishing.

Also the black MB 190 SL aluminium doors with all the glass lifters and door locking and opening mechanisms are a complete set (except for handles) and in good condition. There are small traces of rust on the mechanisms, but everything is reparable. It should be noted that the structure of the black car door internal components is different from that of the red MB 190 SL.

­We are continuing with the panel disassembly.

Fuse block from the passenger compartment side. It looks much better than before from engine compartment side.

The dashboard instruments from inside the panel. There is corrosion in the wire connection points and on the parts.

Engine oil pressure and temperature instruments.

The instruments – speedometer, tachometer, etc. have been removed from the panel. All of these fine mechanisms will undergo restoration.

Wire connection at the fuel gauge.

There are neither headlamp casings nor wire connection panels. Only the less rusted places indicate where the panel was previously located.

The brake master cylinder and the brake and clutch pedal assembly. The pedals mounted on one axle welded to the body are covered with a coat of grease and dirt.

­Having dismantled them we found that the pedal mechanism is in a fairly good condition.

­In its turn, the brake master cylinder has rusted beyond repair. The components have been removed and transferred for further dismantling and restoration. The master cylinder attachment place is repairable.

A view of the engine, front axle, clutch and gearbox from the bottom.  The steering equipment central part components are also visible. They are original and will be restored, except for the bushes and other worn elements, which will be replaced.

It can be seen that the clutch is not connected to the engine. And the clutch with the gearbox is virtually suspended in midair because it is not fastened to the body by any means. The clutch switching lever can be seen as well. In the picture upper right corner the rusted-through floor can be seen.

Oil leaking from the gearbox indicates damaged gaskets and seals. Once again – now from the bottom of the car – the rusted-through passenger side floor is visible

The front suspension is a complete set. All parts seem to be original, but it will be possible to see this precisely only after removing and disassembling the axle.

The passenger compartment front wall as seen from the right-hand side of the engine compartment. Here and there corrosion is noticeable.

The passenger compartment front wall as seen from the driver side of the engine compartment. Distinct traces of rust in the corner of the body.

The front axle has been disconnected from the body and together with the engine and gearbox has been removed from the car. All components will be disassembled and the parts will be repaired, polished and restored. In this model the cardan to the driving rear axle is hidden in the closed tunnel. The cardan can be accessed and taken out only through removing the engine and the gearbox.

The engine has been taken off its “support’ points replacing the real support cushions, which this time are wooden blocks.

The axle parts turned out to be in good condition. They must be cleaned and repainted.

The spiral springs are usable as well, however the shock absorbers need replacement because the ability of the current ones to withstand loads and serve a long term is questionable. The brake hoses must be replaced.

All the flexible axle parts – the bushes, bump stops etc. must be replaced as well.

We have removed the rear axle as well..

The rear axle main bearing parts – longitudinal bearers, gear casing, longitudinal ties – are in satisfactory condition. The spiral springs are neither  broken nor too much distorted. The shock absorbers must be replaced, as must be the bushes and rubber parts. The condition of the axle gear will be clear after its disassembling.
The black MB 190 SL has been disassembled. Bodywork and other required parts have been sand blasted to free the metal of any paint, varnish and other remnants.  Small parts have been handled in a small special machine and for the bodywork a special chamber is used.
All mechanisms and components removed from the black MB 190 SL have also been stripped and checked and restored.  Afterwards all units will be put back together to be later mounted back on the car.

In order to study all the parts necessary for the restoration we proceed with disassembling of the red MB 190 SL.


We remove the rotating courtesy light.

In this car the front panel chrome parts have also suffered from rust. However to a lesser degree than those in the black car, but still they have. The handbrake chrome handle is missing.

Removal of the front panel.

Wire connections and parts are in better condition than those in the black car.

Wire connection on the control switches. Considering the poor state of the bodywork, the better condition of wiring is quite surprising.

Light switch and hot starting control cable.

Engine temperature gauge connection with the indicator.  The panel has been dismantled.

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