• Year of manufacture 
  • Mileage 
    64 279 km / 39 942 mi
  • Car type 
  • Reference number 
  • Drive 
  • Condition 
  • Interior colour 
  • Interior type 
  • Number of doors 
  • Number of seats 
  • Location
  • Exterior colour 
  • Gearbox 
  • Performance 
    132 kW / 180 PS / 178 BHP
  • Drivetrain 
  • Fuel type 


* Fahrzeugstandort: im Zulauf / in transit,

Chassis No. 189391
Engine No. 189391
Body No. 842205
Documents - US Title

A gorgeous 540K with fascinating provenance, including past owners Sir Peter Ustinov and Road & Track founder John R. Bond. Pleasingly mellowed concours restoration, ideal for touring and road events.

Supercharged 5.4-liter inline-eight
Original engine and chassis stampings
Delivered new in Paris to a British owner
Striking Cabriolet A coachwork by Sindelfingen
Well-preserved older concours restoration

The 1930s were a tumultuous time for many of the worlds premier automakers. Even as an economic depression swept over much of the global economy, Packard, Cadillac, Rolls-Royce, Duesenberg, and many others continued rolling out increasingly glamorous, sophisticated, and costly automobiles. Mercedes-Benz carried the pride of Germany with their magnificent eight-cylinder supercharged models, starting with the 380 of 1933. Nearly as soon as the 380 hit the market, engineers in Stuttgart set about developing a replacement, as they felt the 3.8-liter engine was not up to the performance standard they were after. They swiftly introduced the mighty 5-liter, 160-horsepower 500 K. The ultimate evolution of the series arrived in late 1936 with the 180-horsepower, 5.4-liter 540 K. The 500 K and 540 K are among the most coveted of all 30s motor cars, offering an abundance of breathtaking performance, exquisite quality, and impeccable style.
Customer demand for Mercedes flagship was sufficient to warrant 342 500 K chassis and another 419 540 Ks. While a handful of outside coachbuilders had a go at the Mercedes chassis, the vast majority of these cars were bodied at the Mercedes-owned Sindelfingen body works, a facility renowned for impeccable build quality and excellence in design. Sindelfingens catalogue offered a variety of body styles to suit a demanding and sophisticated clientele, and the experienced coachbuilder readily accommodated personal requests, ensuring exclusivity for their customers.

Chassis 189391 is a desirable third-series car, fitted from new with Sindelfingens elegant and desirable Cabriolet A coachwork, originally delivered without side-mounted spares. According to the Daimler-Benz Kommission sheet, the order for this car came via the British Mercedes-Benz distributor in London. The original owner, Mr. Manson, appears to have taken delivery in Paris, though the car was registered in the UK as FLC 217, and it mercifully remained in England for the duration of the war, undoubtedly ensuring its survival. In 1951, the great British actor, writer, filmmaker, and raconteur Sir Peter Ustinov acquired 189391. Ustinov was an enthusiastic and discerning petrolhead, having owned many significant sporting automobiles throughout his career, including a Mercedes S36/220, a Hispano Suiza, and numerous post-war Astons, Lagondas, and Maseratis. Sir Peter kept this 540 K for only a short period, selling it in 1953, likely via the dealer Simmons of Mayfair, which advertised the car around this time in Motor Sport magazine.

In July 1953, the 540 K came stateside via pioneering American collector Ralph Buckley of Absecon, New Jersey. Buckley was well known in the hobby as an expert on Mercer T-Head automobiles and was a friend of seminal motoring book author Ralph Stein. From Mr. Buckley, 189391 went to John R. Bond, beloved Road & Track magazine publisher and a prominent character in the American motoring press. John was a sharp-witted writer, and together with his business-savvy wife Elaine, the Bonds maintained a carefully selected collection of cars in their California home. In 1977, John Bond met Jim Wilson of Hermosa Beach, California, who, upon seeing the 540 K for the first time at Bonds house, was instantly smitten. He soon arranged to buy it and later recalled it was a complete, highly original car showing no signs of a restoration aside from an earlier repaint.

In Mr. Wilsons care, the 540 K was treated to a comprehensive nut and bolt mechanical and cosmetic restoration to show-quality standards. After five years, the Wilsons exhibited the freshly restored 540 K at the 1983 Pebble Beach Concours dElegance, taking a well-deserved 3rd in class. After a few years, the Wilsons sold the 540 K to Manfredo Lippmann of Guatemala, an avid collector of supercharged pre-war Mercedes-Benz automobiles. It eventually came to join a US-based collection, where it was displayed alongside several other significant Mercedes and classic-era cars.

As offered today, 189391 is well-presented with a preserved ...

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Gassmann GmbH
Alte Bundesstraße 48
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