Al Jolson’s Mercedes

1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/120/180 Sports 4 by Sindelfingen

Offered by RM Sotheby’s | Monterey, California | August 18, 2017

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

I know we featured a similar-looking Mercedes-Benz S-Type just a week ago but this… this is one of my favorite cars of all time. This is Al Jolson’s Mercedes and it is wonderful. The S-Type was sort of the entry-level model of Mercedes-Benz’s first halo car, introduced in 1926. The cars only get better as they added letters: the SS, the SSK, and the SSKL.

Under that long hood is a 6.8-liter straight-six. Under normal operating conditions, it makes 120 horsepower – but there is a supercharger strapped to the motor that, when engaged, pushes the power to 180. The body is a two-door, four-seat tourer by Mercedes’ in-house coachbuilder, Sindelfingen. The cream exterior with red interior is a great combo and the low-slung dramatic stance this car has is just incredible.

Photo Courtesy of RM Sotheby’s

We never use more than one photo of a car, but it’s impossible not to here. I’d use all of them, but RM Sotheby’s would probably get angry, so just go check out the rest of them here on their site.

According to its third owner, famed American designer Brooks Stevens, this car was given to Mercedes-Benz factory racing driver Rudolf Caracciola when new. But it’s first traceable owner was none other than Al Jolson, one of the biggest stars of stage and screen (and radio) in the 1920s. He owned the car until 1947 when Stevens bought it. Stevens owned the car until 1990 when he sold it (and then the new owner restored it).

About 10 years ago (give or take) this car was offered at the Auto Collections (or the Blackhawk Collection, I can’t quite recall which, but aren’t they essentially the same thing?). It was there for a while and that’s when it became my “lottery car.” It’s a spectacular looking example of one of the finest pre-war sporting tourers money could buy. And imagining it being manhandled around Jazz Age Hollywood by one of its top stars just adds to its appeal.

RM Sotheby’s is estimating that it will bring $3,500,000-$4,000,000. On a related note, can anyone lend me $4 million? You can see more from this sale here.

Update: Not sold.

Mercedes-Benz S-Type Sports

1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/180 Sports Tourer by Glaser

Offered by Gooding & Company | Pebble Beach, California | August 19, 2017

Photo – Gooding & Company

The Mercedes-Benz S-Type is one of Mercedes’ most impressive vehicles. It was the foundation for the legendary SSK and SSKL racing cars. Consider it the Jazz Age equivalent of the current Mercedes-AMG GT – you know, if the GT could be had with two or four doors and was, you know, gorgeous.

Built between 1927 and 1933, the S-Type was a performer in its day. It’s powered by a supercharged 6.8-liter straight-six that makes 180 horsepower with the supercharger activated. The body here is a one-off by Glaser and it was white with red interior much earlier in its life.

The current family that owns this car acquired it in 1964 (!) and it was first restored in the mid-1960s to the color scheme it now carries. A second restoration was completed in 2013. The auction catalog states that 146 S-Types were built and only 58 remain. A few have changed hands in the last few years, but they are rarely attainable. It’s a pretty awesome machine that will grab everyone’s attention wherever you take it… if you can afford the $5,000,000-$6,000,000 price tag. Click here for more info and here for more from Gooding & Company.

Update: Not sold.

Mercedes-Benz Type S

1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type 26/120/180 Supercharged Sports Tourer by Erdmann & Rossi

Offered by Bonhams | Scottsdale, Arizona | January 19, 2017

Photo – Bonhams

Ye Gods! I have to admit, this car is near the top of amazing cars we’ve ever featured. There is something just so alluring… so… bad ass about these big, early Mercedes-Benz Tourers. There is a mystique here that few cars can match. This is probably also why they so very rarely come up for sale.

Mercedes and Benz joined forces in 1926 and that same year they introduced a model called the Typ S (or Type S or S-Type… you’ll inexplicably find different names for the same cars depending on the auction house). The Type S was built through 1930 and it gave rise to the Type SS and the legendary SSK. The low slung chassis of the Type S is powered by a 6.7-liter straight-six and makes 120 horsepower – or 180 with the supercharger engaged. That’s pretty impressive for 1926… as was the price: $7,000 as a bare engine/chassis. Over 100 mph was possible as well.

The body is by coachbuilder Erdmann & Rossi and is original to this car (as is the engine). It was delivered new to the U.S. and was restored in the mid-1990s. The car’s been in Europe for some time, but is being sold again in the U.S., where it spent much of its life. Mercedes-Benz only built 174 examples of the Type S making it quite rare. It’s a gorgeous beast of a car and it’s entirely usable. Get it while you can because it could be years before another example hits the market. But it won’t come cheap. Click here for more info and here for more from Bonhams.

Update: Sold $4,812,500.

Lea-Francis Hyper

1928 Lea-Francis 1½-Litre Type S Hyper Sports Two-Seater

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, U.K. | June 24, 2016

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

Trivia: what marque produced the first British production car with a supercharger? Bentley? Nope. It was Lea-Francis and their Hyper 1½-liter Type S. It was introduced in 1928 and was built through 1931. Only 185 were built.

It is powered by a 1.5-liter straight-four that has been supercharged. I can’t tell you how much power it makes but there is a quote in the lot description that says it will cruise comfortably at 70 mph. So it has plenty of power, I guess. This car was actually a factory racer, having competed in the 1928 Ards Tourist Trophy race, a race that was won by a sister machine.

The car has been completely restored and, strangely, is being offered by the family of the man who raced it in the Ards TT (even though they had to reacquire the car at auction in the early 1990s). It’s a solid competitor to a Frazer Nash, should you seek out on-track competition once purchased. If you’re interested, it should bring between $230,000-$320,000. Click here for more info and here for more from this sale.

Update: Sold $210,135.

More Awesome Classic Commercial Vehicles

The Michael Banfield Collection

Offered by Bonhams | Staplehurst, U.K. | June 14, 2014


 1922 AEC S-Type Open Top Double Deck Bus

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

AEC is known as the double-decker bus company. Their Routemaster double-decker is one of the most famous of the type. But their double-deckers go back to before WWI. The S-Type was built between 1920 and 1927, with 849 (double-deckers) built for the London General Omnibus Company – for which this example was built.

The engine is a 35 horsepower 5.1-liter straight-four and it is said that this was as good as public transport got in London back in the day. It can transport up to 54 people – 26 inside and 28 up top in the weather.

This is thought to be one of only two S-Type double-deckers in existence. And it had a really cool story, which you can read more of here. The price? $130,000-$150,000.

Update: Sold $477,481.


1914 Hallford WD

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

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AEC Double-Decker

 1922 AEC S-Type Open Top Double Deck Bus

Offered by Bonhams | Staplehurst, U.K. | June 14, 2014

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

AEC is known as the double-decker bus company. Their Routemaster double-decker is one of the most famous of the type. But their double-deckers go back to before WWI. The S-Type was built between 1920 and 1927, with 849 (double-deckers) built for the London General Omnibus Company – for which this example was built.

The engine is a 35 horsepower 5.1-liter straight-four and it is said that this was as good as public transport got in London back in the day. It can transport up to 54 people – 26 inside and 28 up top in the weather.

This is thought to be one of only two S-Type double-deckers in existence. And it had a really cool story, which you can read more of here. The price? $130,000-$150,000.

Update: Sold $477,481.

Awesome Classic Commercial Vehicles

The Michael Banfield Collection

Offered by Bonhams | Staplehurst, U.K. | June 14, 2014


 1915 Peerless TC4 4-Ton Open Back

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

This sale from Bonhams includes quite a number of really awesome commercial vehicles. I don’t have enough time to feature them individually, but because they’re so cool (and you so rarely see them at auction), I thought I’d do two posts that cover the coolest among them (which is pretty much all of them).

This truck is from one of America’s premier luxury car manufacturers. They started building trucks in 1911 and the U.S. Army loved them. The British government bought 12,000 of them between 1915 and 1918, during the First World War. This thing uses a 6.8-liter four-cylinder and was in service with the British government until 1956. It’s beautiful. And it should sell for between $34,000-$42,000. Click here for more.

Update: Sold $72,173.


1922 Tilling-Stevens TS3A Open Top Double Deck Bus

Photo - Bonhams

Photo – Bonhams

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Invicta Bluebird

1931 Invicta 4½-Litre S-Type Low-Chassis Tourer

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, England | September 15, 2012

Invictas – especially the low-chassis models – are some of the sportiest cars of the era. They are aggressive looking with a low center of gravity, meaning handling and road holding were areas were Invicta cars excelled over their competitors – which included Bentley and Lagonda, among others. The cars were expensive and only about 1,000 Invicta cars of all models were built.

This is a 4.5-liter S-Type meaning the engine is a 4.5-liter straight-six that has been supercharged to produce speeds capable of 100 mph. All Invictas used Meadows engines built by Henry Meadows (except the first three prototypes). The supercharged Meadows six was a torquey monster – you can drive this car in top gear down to 6 mph!

Invictas never saw the racing success of Bentley. They went after a different niche – cars that could be throttled by their owners – just wrung out. High speeds for extensive distances with no wear or tear. The cars were so solidly built that 68 of the 77 S-Types built still survive.

This car, nicknamed “Bluebird,” has known ownership history since the 1960s and a three-year restoration was completed in 2011. It’s kind of weird, but pre-war cars were available in many different guises: big tourers, racing cars, etc. But this is a sports car. It’s made to go fast – but it’s not a competition car. There aren’t a lot of pre-war cars that are worthy of this designation. And this is among the best of them. The pre-sale estimate is $870,000-$1,100,000. For more information, click here. And for more from Bonhams at Goodwood, click here.

Update: Not Sold.

All-Original Mercedes-Benz S-Type

1928 Mercedes-Benz 680 S-Type Four-Seat Open Tourer

Offered by Bonhams | Goodwood, England | September 15, 2012

Well check this out. This 1928 Mercedes-Benz S-Type Tourer has been in the same family for the last 84 years. That’s single-family ownership from new. And it has never been restored and has covered only 8,375 miles. This is an incredible car and an example of one of those cars that proves there is always something out there that will surprise you when it surfaces.

Mercedes-Benz introduced the S-Type in 1927. It featured a 6.8-liter straight-six with supercharger that was designed by Ferdinand Porsche. Power was around 180 and the top speed was in excess of 100 mph. The big brothers of this car, the SS, SSK and SSKL are legendary for their performance.

This car was ordered by an Army Captain in early 1928. It was delivered to England as a bare chassis and bodied by Cadogan Motors Ltd. of London with this lightweight, four-seat, fabric open tourer-style body. It was road-registered up through 1937 and by the 1950s it was set on blocks in the custom-made garage built specifically for this car.

The original owner’s grandson acquired the car in 2012 and brought it back to life. It runs and drives and has been inspected by a Daimler-Benz Classic engineer. This was the first great car produced by Mercedes-Benz and everything is just as it was in 1928 (well, the tires are new and the transmission was replaced by the owner in the 1930s). You won’t find a car this rare and interesting that hasn’t been seen in 60 years anytime soon. Then again, who knows what else will drive out of the woodwork tomorrow.

The pre-sale estimate is $2,400,000-$3,200,000. For the complete lot description, click here. And for more from Bonhams at Goodwood, click here.

Update: Sold $4,544,000.