1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Cabriolet A by Sindelfingen
Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Amelia Island, Florida | March 12, 2016
Photo – RM Sotheby’s
The Mercedes-Benz 540K was the final iteration of their most luxurious line of pre-war cars. It was produced between 1936 and 1940 and a total of 419 of them were built. There are a number of popular body styles, including the Sindelfingen-bodied Cabriolet A, B, & C. There was also the Special Roadster. And then there was this, the 540K Spezial Cabriolet A.
Only two such cars were given the Spezial Cabriolet A treatment (the other is a 500K, making this, essentially, a factory one-off). It’s a combination of the Special Roadster’s raked windshield and the Cabriolet A’s classic, beautiful lines. The engine is a 5.4-liter straight-eight that makes 115 horsepower in normal mode and 180 when the supercharger is engaged.
This car has known ownership history back to the 1940s when it first arrived in America. It was part of the Otis Chandler collection and actually won Best of Show at the 1973 Pebble Beach Concours during his ownership. It was most recently restored in the early-90s and should bring between $3,000,000-$4,000,000. Click here for more info and here for more from RM.
1934 Mercedes-Benz 290 Cabriolet A by Sindelfingen
Offered by RM Auctions | London, U.K. | September 8-9, 2013
What I like about this sale is that there are a bunch of Mercedes-Benzes of intermediate prestige. Yes, 500K and 540K Benzes are wonderful but you never see 380s or 290s at these big, fancy auctions.
Thus, why I’m featuring this car instead of the 540K Special Roadster from the same sale. The Mercedes-Benz 290 was known internally as the W18 and it was available in two different wheelbases. This is the shorter one. The engine is a 2.9-liter straight-six making 60 horsepower. The wheel wells on this car seem to ride really high, giving this an almost-SUV-like appearance. It might be good off-road. It looks like a car that some Nazis would use to chase down Indiana Jones.
Only 3,566 short-chassis cars were built (which is a fairly high number compared to other cars of the era). The Cabriolet A (seen here) was the sportiest of the various body styles offered, but it was almost the most expensive. My favorite feature here is the dual rear-mount spares (I’m a sucker for those). This is a rare car with an older restoration that has had some use. It should still bring between $390,000-$465,000. Click here for more info and here for the rest of RM’s interesting London auction lineup.
1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Cabriolet A by Sindelfingen
Offered by Gooding & Company | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 18, 2013
Last week (or the week before, I’ve lost track) we featured a MB 540K. This was that car’s immediate predecessor. The 500K was introduced by Mercedes in 1934 and last until 1936. This car is brilliant in gray and black with red interior – it’s dark and menacing, just like the 1930s Germany that spawned it. It defines luxury and style of a time and place – and that was Germany in 1935.
The engine is a supercharged 5.0-liter straight eight making 160 horsepower (with the supercharger engaged). Only 342 500Ks were built, and only 33 carried Mercedes-Benz’s in-house Sindelfingen Cabriolet A coachwork and only 11 of those still survive. This car is imposing – especially with twin rear-mount spares.
This one managed to survive because it was purchased new by a Swedish Baron, who kept it at his castle. It was parked in 1948 and sold in 1950, and then it hopped from owner to owner, being restored for the first time in 1963. It remained in Sweden until 1983 when it went to a collector back in West Germany. It was expertly restored in the late 1980s and has been preserved since. The 20+ years of use give this car a patina that makes it appear to have never been restored since new, which is really cool. It is being sold from a Dutch collection and should bring between $2,500,000-$3,000,000. For more info (and gorgeous pictures), click here. And for more from Gooding, click here.
Offered by Bonhams | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 17, 2013
Hmm, three maroon cars in a row. I didn’t plan that. We’ll need something more colorful for tomorrow. But color isn’t a big issue here because this is a Mercedes-Benz 540K. One of the most desirable cars on earth.
The 540K was, essentially, an updated 500K with a bigger engine. Introduced in 1936, the 540K used a supercharged 5.4-liter straight eight making 180 horsepower with the supercharger engaged. How it worked was, the engine made 115 horsepower as is, but when you floored the accelerator, the compressor kicked in and bumped the power up considerably – allowing the car to attain speeds up to 110 mph.
But what really catches everyone’s attention is that body by Sindelfingen, Mercedes’ in-house coachbuilder. Their cars are gorgeous, this Cabriolet A-style body being no exception. The 540K lasted until 1940, with a total of 83 Cabriolet As built. This car was originally delivered to Paris, but was brought home with a U.S. soldier after the war (what a war prize!). He kept it until 1970 when it was purchased by famed car rescuer Paul Karassik, who painted it the burgundy color you see, replaced the top, and refurbished the leather on the seats. Other than that, this car is original.
Mercedes 540K Cabriolet A’s have an average sale price over the past few years of about $2.5 million. The fact that this car is pretty much original is a wild card – but look for it to bring in the neighborhood of that amount, as Bonhams declined to publish an estimate. You can read more here and check out more from this sale here.