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Take a Ride in a Gorgeous, Modified Mercedes-Benz 190SL Cafe Racer

We all need to celebrate cars like this, before they're gone.

Most of us will never know what it’s like to drive the sports cars and roadsters of yesteryear. The feel of the road, the sound of the engine, and the smell of old leather—the whole experience is unlike anything you can find on a modern lot. Sixty years from now, our children and their grandchildren could experience in what are now modern cars the same thing that the guys at Petrolicious have captured with this video: a journey in a piece of history.

Meet Michael Potiker and his low-slung Mercedes 190 SL roadster, which he has customized to a gorgeous (and mostly period-correct) machine. He aimed for a traditional Southern California cafe-racer theme—fitting, as the video takes place in Los Angeles—based off of the Rennsport kit made available by Mercedes when the car was sold new from the factory. Despite small imperfections, the car is absolutely beautiful. The doors are chopped, the windshield is no more, and Potiker can often be seen sporting a driving helmet and gloves—”like Stirling Moss,” as Potiker describes it.

The W121 Mercedes-Benz 190 SL was a true roadster. Mercedes sold it between 1955 and 1963 as a more affordable option to its big brother, the 300 SL. Though it only made 104 horsepower from the factory 1.9-liter four-cylinder, the car proves that you don’t always need gobs of power to enjoy a car. Potiker didn’t rebuild the transmission, nor did he modify the engine, which already sported 1960s Weber carburetors. He did, however, perform maintenance on the car and worked on the braking system. He describes subtle modifications as making the car feel like he’s powering it with an on/off switch when pressing the pedal. The only modification that Potiker made that isn’t period-correct is the modern suspension setup.

In a world where automatic transmissions are outnumbering manuals and electric cars are becoming more prominent, it will be harder four us to enjoy the cars of today in our later years. The same goes for the generations after us—which is why it’s important to treasure the machines that came before us.