There's no doubt that Fritz Nallinger and his team held no illusions about the 190SL's lack of performance, which led to 1950s Mercedes-Benz 190SL development. Even though many critical comments were ill-informed, they must have irked engineers like Hans Scherenberg and Karl-Heinz Goschel.
Nonetheless, the corporate parts bin contained sufficient goodies for some potentially exciting alternatives to be built and tested during the mid-1950s.
It was in the engine department where the 190SL was lacking most in their opinion. (The four-cylinder engine was jokingly referred to by the engineers as the Rappelkönig, or "rattle king.") In January 1954, Scherenberg and Goschel were asked to look at new developments.
Goschel, the fuel injection specialist responsible for the 300SL's system, decided to apply some of the technology from the M198 engine to the 190SL. A new engine designation -- M126 -- was given to this research. A completely new cylinder head casting was produced with crossflow porting. High-pressure Bosch mechanical fuel injection and desmodromic valve gear were adapted from the M198 powerplant.
In October 1955, the test department completed assembly of a prototype 190SL/1 equipped with the M126 engine that produced 117bhp at between 5,900 and 6,100 rpm on the test stand.
A further three cars (190SL/6, -8, and -9) were commissioned and tested, car nine eventually covering some 41,500 kilometers (more than 25,750 miles). However, the engine proved to be no more sophisticated than the production M121 unit, was only marginally more powerful, and would have been far more expensive to produce.
Rudolf Uhlenhaut, a man who loved fast and powerful cars -- he had a very special 300SLR built for his private use -- had some ideas on improving the 190SL. His solution was simple: Power the 190SL with a 3.0-liter six-cylinder engine from the 300 series.
The task of modifying the 190SL was given to Kurt Oblander, a recent recruit to Mercedes-Benz. The ...