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Jan Oldenhuis's picture
Jan Oldenhuis
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

--24h and 526 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL coupé (1958-1963)

Just before Christmas I acquired a DT 24H Mercedes 190 SL with an ivory body and a black hardtop roof with box 24H. The model is in shiny condition, like new. It is the early version without windows with chrome convex hubs which I like the most. The inner roof is checkered. I think this German Mercedes is a really attractive model, although its legendary big brother 300 SL (Gullwing) with more engine power naturally appeals more to the imagination. I have found a lot of information about this model that I would like to share here.

Introduction of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL on Geneva Motor Show in March 1955

Mercedes 190 SL Coupé at the 1955 International Motor Show in Frankfurt/Main. Note the various Mercedes racing cars hanging in the air.

According the Meccano drawing of Meccano Bobigny in Jacques's encyclopaedia is the drawing of the Mercedes 190 SL dated 14-4-1957. Seen the various brochures and technical information I think the prototype is of model year 1955. From catalogue 1956 the 190 SL received chrome mouldings on the fenders and from June 1956 larger rear lights were fitted.

1955 brochure Mercedes 190 SL. In this image the jacking points on the sides of the car are not yet covered.

1955 brochure Mercedes 190 SL

As to be seen in the brochure above is the Mercedes 190 SL three cars in one: it can be used as a convertible with open roof, with a soft top closed roof or with a hardtop closed roof.

1956 brochure Mercedes 190 SL - coupé with a hardtop roof – from March 1956 with chrome mouldings on the fenders and from June 1956 larger rear lights were fitted.

Wikipedia: English

The Mercedes-Benz 190 SL (W121) is a two-door luxury roadster produced by Mercedes-Benz between May 1955 and February 1963. Internally referred to as W121 (BII or B2), it was first shown in prototype at the 1954 New York Auto Show, and was available with an optional removable hardtop.

The 190 SL presented an attractive, more affordable alternative to the exclusive Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, sharing its basic styling, engineering, detailing, and fully independent suspension. Both cars had double wishbones in front and swing axles at the rear. Instead of the 300 SL's expensive purpose-built W198 tubular spaceframe, the 190 SL's R121 structure used a shortened unitary floorpan modified from the W121 base saloon.

The 190 SL was powered by a new, slightly oversquare 105 PS (77 kW; 104 hp) Type M121 BII 1.9 L straight-four SOHC engine. Based on the 300 SL's straight six, it had an unchanged 85 mm bore and 4.3 mm reduced 83.6 mm stroke, was fitted with twin-choke dual Solex carburetors, and produced gross 120 hp (89 kW; 122 PS). In detuned form, it was later used in the W120 180 and W121 190 models.

The car was available either as a soft-top convertible (initially priced at DM 16,500/US$3,998) or with removable hardtop (DM 17,650/$4,295). A small third-passenger transverse seat was optional. During its first years the 190 SL was available as a sports-racing model with small perspex windscreen and spartan one-piece leather covered bucket seats and aluminium doors. In 1959, the hardtop's rear window was enlarged.

In 1956, a few six-cylinder prototypes were built for testing. A 190SL with a unique engine, using the 300SL block, squeezed into the engine bay with a one-off mix of Benz-bin parts was entered in the 1956 Alpine Rally, but the costs of production would be prohibitive. Two other prototypes, fitted with fuel injected M180 220SE engines were baptised the W127 / 220SL. In June 1956, Rudi Uhlenhaut and Karl Kling lapped the Nürburgring Nordschleife circuit in the two W127s 25 seconds faster than a regular 190SL. On 12 April 1957, MB's board decided to build the W127, six-cylinder 220SL alongside the 190SL, but production challenges postponed manufacturing until it was overtaken by the Mercedes-Benz 230SL  'Pagoda'.

Both the 190 SL and the 300 SL were replaced by the 230SL in 1963.

Introduction Dinky Toys 24H in MM France July 1958

Advertisement Dinky Toys 24H with ivory body and black hardtop roof on last page of MM France August 1958

24H in ivory with black roof with “quelques nouveautés 1958-1959” on back page of French Meccano catalogue 1958

My 24H Mercedes 190 SL Coupé

Publication mistake: 24H Mercedes 190 SL in silver grey body with a blue roof and with windows as “nouveauté” on the front page of the French catalogue 1958. It often went wrong with images in the French DT catalogues, as here: a blue roof was never issued and windows were first mentioned for this model in the 1960 catalogue.

The next publication mistake: 24H Mercedes 190 SL in silver grey body with a blue roof, without windows, together with 24CP Citroen DS 19 with windows, on the front page of the Dutch catalogue 1958, while the 1958 French catalogue above the 24H shows with windows.

I think that It is not a handy publication to show the introduction of a new model 24H without windows on the front page next to 24CP with windows. In this period all new car models of Meccano Liverpool were issued with windows but Meccano Bobigny did not so.

Note: 24h-526 are pictured in silver grey with black roof in all French Dinky Toys catalogues and in ivory with black roof in all Meccano catalogues. In the USA and Dutch DT catalogues the 24h-526 is shown in both colours.

24H Mercedes 190 SL in ivory body with a black roof in USA catalogue 1958.

Note: Arriving on the market in May 1955, the Mercedes 190SL immediately set tongues wagging. Many, especially outside America, hadn’t experienced this revolutionary roadster’s myriad of talents. The perfect blending of style, effortless class and sporting mystique. US customers instantly recognised its laid-back, luxurious approach as many of its home-grown best sellers were doing the same. It’s no surprise that Americans couldn’t get enough, buying up 40 percent of all the 25,881 Mercedes-Benz 190 SLs made (for export). The success of this SL in the States did wonders for Stuttgart’s recovering coffers. It guaranteed the continuation of a dynasty we’re fortunate enough to still enjoy to this day.

24H was very short released in catalogues 1958 with sales number 24H and was already renumbered to 526 in the French catalogue of 1959 as shown below. 24H and 526 always kept the number 24H in the baseplate.

526 – 24H renumbered in silver grey with black roof in French catalogue 1959

My 24H left side on 24H yellow picture box. Model and box have the same colour scheme – ivory body with black hardtop roof on both sides of the box

Early 1955 Mercedes 190 SL convertible in silver grey without chrome mouldings on the fenders

It is number 729 of nearly 26,000 ever built. It is therefore a very early one, from 1955, the first year that the beautiful convertible was built. On this actual example, the 2 vertical seams under the door are also visible, as also present on model 24H above. The jacking points on the sides of the car are now covered.

1956 Mercedes 190 SL coupé with ivory body and blue hardtop roof like model 24h above. This 1956 model has chrome mouldings on the fenders

24H Mercedes 190 SL with the characteristic open silver Mercedes grille with silver Mercedes brand star.

1957 Mercedes 190 SL front side. Note his nice contours designed by Walter Häcker.

24H Mercedes 190 SL rear side with the characteristic Mercedes brand star with type designation 190 SL on the trunk lid

1957 Mercedes 190 SL rear side with Mercedes brand star and type designation 190 SL on the trunk lid. What a beautiful flowing line.

24H box with technical details about the Mercedes 190 SL

24H top view

24H Mercedes 190 SL baseplate with sales number 24H

Photo of colour samples Meccano Bobigny from Vincent Espinasse on Auto Jaune Blog. Photo with courtesy of autojauneblog.fr

Vincent Espinasse describes in his Auto Jaune Blog an interesting and valuable article in 2 parts about three colour samples of the 24H by Meccano Bobigny, which colours never were issued. It is recommended to read this article. Seen these colour samples, my thoughts are that Meccano Bobigny may have been inspired by the colour variations of the 190 SL in the 1956 brochure pictured below.

Colour example of Mercedes 190 SL Coupé in 1956 brochure.

1956 brochure Mercedes 190 SL - colour combinations of the 190 SL

Despite Meccano Bobigny's colour samples, the 24h-526 only was issued in two main colours: with an ivory/cream body or with a silver/grey body, but they have shades of colour. Always with a black hardtop roof. First with convex, then with concave hubs. First without windows, then with windows. The model was boxed in 2 versions, with sales numbers 24H or 526.

Meccano Bobigny made a very attractive model with the 24h close to the actual Mercedes 190 SL. I wish everybody a happy collecting 2023.

Jan Oldenhuis, 3 January 2023.

janwerner's picture
janwerner
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DTCA MemberNetherlands

Lovely contribution, Jan! The abundancy of information in words and pictures ...

My example 'by night' below. Kind regards, Jan W