The first sales brochures of the Mercedes-Benz 190 SL included also photos of a racing version of the car. The racing version’s doors were made of light alloy and a small racing-car windshield was made of Perspex. The omission of soft-top, bumpers, heat exchanger and insulating material reduced the car’s weight to some 1,000 kilograms, roughly ten percent less than the production roadster’s. In engineering terms, the lightweight 190 SL differed only slightly from the production version. The modifications included a bit of fine-tuning of the engine, lowering of the bodywork and fitting of sports shock absorbers and modified springs. There are no records of the number of units produced, and only a few racing versions were sold to customers. The racing version of the 190 SL scored its greatest successes in 1956, in the Grand Prix for sports cars in Macao, entered by the Daimler-Benz importer in Hong Kong. The right-hand-drive roadster won the race ahead of a Ferrari Mondial and several Jaguars and Austin-Healeys.
On account of the racing regulations the idea of the racing 190 SL was not pursued any further. In many competitions the vehicle, modified as described, would have been classed as a production sports car and thus would not have had a chance. On top of that a decision of the racing authority FIA prevented classification as a GT. According to the regulation a Gran Turismo must have a completely enclosable body, a condition which the converted 190 SL could not meet.