1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet BSOLD

Christie's Retromobile Paris Auction - February, 16 & 17th, 2007

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Estimate 400,000 - 600,000 Euros
Result (incl.) 396,250 Euros

Engine: straight eight, in-line, overhead valve, 5,401cc., 115bhp or 180bhp with supercharger engaged at 3,400rpm; Gearbox: four-speed manual; Suspension: independent coil spring suspension front and rear; Brakes: four wheel drum. Left hand drive.

Model History

The merger of Daimler and Benz in the mid-1920s actually came at a time of acute difficulty for the German motor industry. The combined firm produced only 2,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles per year, yet they employed a workforce of almost 20,000. As it was, Karl Benz outlived Gottlieb Daimler by many years and when he died in 1929 at the age of 85 the reorganization at Stuttgart-Unterturkheim and Mannheim was finally beginning to make an impact. Competition success, such as Rudolf Caracciola's 1930 European Hillclimb Championship in a supercharged SSK, helped sales which had risen to 6,000 by 1932 and from a workforce reduced to 9,000. This was achieved by the virtual closure of the Benz factories. The flagship 5-litre and 5.4 litre supercharged models are by far and away the most desirable as they were built in strictly limited numbers.

The 540K was built between 1936 and 1939 and top speed was now substantially more than 100mph. The 540K was the natural successor to the famous supercharged sports models of the 1920s and early 1930s, but with more refinement and comfort. Incidentally the K nomenclature refers to the Kompressor status of the engine and although the preceding 380 model had also been supercharged, Mercedes introduced the K lettering for the 500 series. Just 419 examples of the 500K were made and of these the the car Christie's is delighted to offer for sale is the desirable Cabriolet B version, offering the 2 doors and side 4 windows body style. Clients could order their chassis to be fitted with a number of different body styles either factory built or bespoke coachbuilt. Whatever the choice, they were all supremely well engineered and finished cars and must have been a real presence on the roads in their day. The enlarged 5.4-liter version was developed in 1934/5 and made its first appearance at the Paris Salon in October 1936. Daimler-Benz was without doubt very proud of their latest achievement now that the eight cylinder 540K engine developed 115bhp, or 180bhp with the supercharger engaged, giving the car a top speed of approximately 170km/h. Other improvements over the 500K included chassis refinements, uprated suspension and a better braking system.

History of this car

Chassis number 169350 is one of the desirable Cabriolet B versions of the supercharged Mercedes 540K model that was ordered through Mercedes Benz Berlin with internal order number 257654. In the car's file there is a fax by DaimlerChrysler A.G. from 1995, confirming the above and DaimlerChrysler have recently stated that the car was first registered on August 24th 1937 initially destined to be used as a demonstrator. Its bodywork was finished at the Mercedes-Benz Sindelfingen bearing the number 825716. Little more is known about the car's life until it resurfaced in the mid-nineties when it was completely restored.

This impressive matching numbers Cabriolet B retains all of its original major components: chassis, engine and bodywork These highly sought after supercharged Mercedes-Benz were among the ultimate cars that money could buy in the late 1930s. Capable of carrying up to five and with the roof down the appearance remains elegant yet powerful at all times. On the button and ready to be enjoyed as it was intended to be this beautifully presented Cabriolet B comes with Mercedes archive copies together with a copy of the manufacturer's confirmation fax.

Chassis 169 350 was purchased by the current European owner in 1997 forming part of his private collection since then. It is clear that the car had been fully restored after being discovered in the early 90s, lots of the work being undertaken by well known Mercedes-Benz specialist B÷hringer. A DEKRA certification mentions invoices for a total of DM 1,042,589.44 or approximately half a million Euros, excluding the purchase of the car. The striking black paintwork is highly presentable and is an attractive complement to the red leather upholstery, which also appears to be in excellent condition. The chrome is also extremely well presented, the underbody, engine compartment and engine are in a very clean, well-maintained condition showing only limited driving use. The woodwork is also nicely finished on this supercharged 540K. With its traditional Mercedes-Benz radiator grille and mascot, stylish coachwork and outside exhausts, this fabulous example of 1930s opulence exudes both power and grace and would obviously be a welcome entry at numerous concours events throughout the world or could just be used to be enjoyed for grand touring.

Reference Number 6933

as of 2/1/2007

Car 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet B
VIN 169350 
Exterior / Interior Color      Black /      Red 
Configuration Left Hand Drive (LHD) 
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