- The Peak of Classic Automobile Design
- A Tour-de-Force of German Car-Building
- Dazzlingly restored with money no object
The Mercedes 540 K, presented at the Paris Motor Show in 1936, derived from two models that effectively served as its forerunners: the 380 and the 500 K. The 380, unveiled in 1933, was created by the gifted engineer Hans Nibel, a man responsible for several superb racing cars. This new Mercedes boasted an advanced suspension system, with triangular wishbones to the front and swing-axles at the rear, all supported by coil springs. This made it extremely safe and comfortable to drive, even on poor surfaces - a feat warmly saluted by the press at the time.
The 380 had an eight-cylinder engine with a supercharger as option, but was slightly lacking in power when compared to the famous S and SS it was meant to replace. So, in 1934, Mercedes launched the sturdier 500 K, whose eight-cylinder in-line engine came with a clutch-operated supercharger: pushing the accelerator to the floor engaged a train of gears that drove the booster and fuel enrichment, and enabled the driver to command sudden bursts of power.
The same system was used two years later on the even more powerful 540 K, whose 5.4-litre engine delivered 180hp at 3,400rpm when the compressor was engaged - enabling this enormous car with its four-speed gearbox to top a remarkable 170 km/h, with the comfort and safety that were already Mercedes hallmarks. The car's finish was suitably magnificent. Various body styles were available - Cabriolet, Roadster, Coupé and, most impressive of all, the Spezial Roadster. As the most prestigious embodiment of the Golden Age of classic car-making, the 540 K is extremely rare: barely more than 400 were produced (between 1936-39).
According to factory records, our Mercedes 540 K was ordered by Maurice Zamaria of Jaffa as a Cabriolet B. The current owner says it was recovered from Germany just after World War II, the coachwork having been destroyed by bombing. It is therefore unlikely that it reached Jaffa before the outbreak of hostilities. In 2004/5 it was in the Franz Prahl Klassische Automobile workshop near Osnabrück to be reconstructed as a Spezial Roadster, with new coachwork based on factory plans down to the finest detail - and money no object. Without checking the price, it would be impossible for even a connoisseur to tell the difference between this car and a veritable Spezial Roadster. In 2006 it joined the magnificent Rosso Bianco Collection at Aschaffenburg in Bavaria.
With its seductive metallic grey livery, black leather interior, extravagant coachwork and exquisitely elegant, tapering 'long tail' rear, our two-seater Mercedes embodies the 540 K at its most spectacular. Still with its original engine, it offers the chance to acquire one of the most prestigious Mercedes ever made.