1954 Mercedes-Benz 190SL Prototype, Once Destined for Destruction, Now for Sale

1954 Mercedes-Benz 190SL (carbuzz.com)

A rare 1954 Mercedes-Benz 190SL prototype, which narrowly escaped destruction and was subsequently given away for free, is now available for sale. Chassis number 5500001, originally repurposed as a production vehicle after serving as a template for the 190SL assembly line, is currently up for bidding on Bring a Trailer.

The car has a unique history, initially functioning as the second prototype with the internal chassis number 8467121081/1 during the testing and development phase. In 1955, it underwent transformation to align with production standards, receiving a new chassis number (121042-5500001), body number (RA 121042-4500001), and engine number (121-921-4500001).

Despite being assigned the first production numbers, it lingered on the production line for seven months, serving as a test fitting vehicle for subsequent 190SLs. Eventually, it was converted to a right-hand-drive configuration in response to a request from an English diplomat in August 1955. The car was gifted to the diplomat on October 18, 1955, under its old Werks chassis number.


The vehicle’s history remained documented with its Werks chassis number until its restoration 70 years later, aligning its records with the 1955 chassis number. The exact mileage is unknown, and the car features a replacement 1.9-liter single-cam four-cylinder engine, silver paint, a blue convertible top, blue leather upholstery, and a body-color hardtop (damaged during stripping).

Despite the undisclosed mileage and the need for hardtop restoration, the bidding, with eight days remaining, has reached $100,000. The car’s uniqueness, historical significance, and aesthetic appeal make it an enticing option for collectors, potentially offering a bargain compared to contemporary Mercedes-AMG SL models.