See also : Top 10 Cars Cars II Germany Germany II Cars 1920s Cars 1930s Cars 1934-35 Cars 1936-37 Cars 1938-39 Post war cars Cars 1954-55
Chronology : 20th century 1928 1935 1936 1937 1939 1950-1959 1954 1955
2013 SOLD for $ 8.3M by RM Auctions
The high-end was offered since 1924 by the models 24/100/140 and 15/70/100. A sports variant 24/110/160 was introduced in 1926. This denomination which may now seem odd indicates successively the fiscal power and the real power in hp without and with compression.
Pushed by the prestige of the competitions, the power is gradually increased. The new Mercedes-Benz company introduces the Typ S (Sportwagen) in 1927 as the successor to the Mercedes Model K. A specialty of Daimler had been to equip their Mercedes cars with a Roots supercharger.
For the new brand, the chief engineer Ferdinand Porsche designed in 1927 the most powerful sports car of that time, the Mercedes-Benz 680S with a huge supercharged 6.8 liter engine. The supercharger was only engaged when the pedal was depressed.
In terms of bodywork the Sindelfingen factory offers the high-end but the customer may also buy the chassis and have the body realized by a craftsman.
A 1927 680S 26/120/180 was sold for $ 5M by Gooding in August 2011, lot 119. This highly authentic Sportwagen is in matching number configuration and retains its original Sindelfingen body.
Made in 1928 and sole survivor from three built with a low windshield, a Mercedes-Benz 680S 26/120/180 hp coachworked by Saoutchik as a Torpedo roadster is a great example of the perfection and modernism that could be achieved at that time.
Its mechanics are German but the elegance is French. It is an early masterpiece by Jacques Saoutchik, a former cabinetmaker inspired by the Parisian Art Déco who knew to combine style and innovation. Made on order for an American businessman who failed to take it after a reversal of fortunes, it was exhibited at the New York Auto Salon in 1929.
After a stunning restoration, this car was awarded the highest honors : perfect with 100 points and Best of Show at the 2012 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, Restoration of the Year at the 2012 International Historic Motoring Awards and First in Class at the 2013 Concorso d’Eleganza Villa d’Este. This car was sold for $ 8.3M by RM Auctions on August 17, 2013, lot 216, and passed at RM on May 27, 2017, lot 144.
A 26/120/180 S from 1928 was sold for $ 5.4M by Bonhams on August 13, 2021, lot 34. The car was owned in the family of the consignor since 1964. It is believed that its body has never been changed. The records of the brand state that the chassis has been shipped to Gläser. This coachbuilder was based in Dresden.
2004 SOLD for £ 4.2M by Bonhams
On September 3, 2004, Bonhams sold for £ 4.2M a Mercedes-Benz SSK 38/250 made in 1929, lot 144. It is fitted with a 7.1 liter engine and bodied as a two seat tourer by Carlton. It is not supercharged.
This car had been the lifelong cherished property of the British enthusiast who had acquired it in 1941. Due to the impossibility to find German spare parts in England during the war, he had joined to it in his garage a Mercedes-Benz Typ SS 38/250 from 1930.
1935 500K Roadster
2016 SOLD for € 5.3M by Bonhams
With a high intelligence Mercedes-Benz appreciates that the wealthiest customers shall prefer a bigger and more powerful car even if it is much more expensive. The 380 is terminated in mid-1934 to be replaced by the 5 liter 500 and its supercharged 500 K which reaches 160 km/h on the road.
In an international perspective the 500s come at the right time. The Cord group fails to balance the budget of Duesenberg, Bugatti's La Royale is an almost total commercial failure and Bentley went bankrupt.
The coachwork becomes gorgeous. The high end is named Roadster, understood as a synonym for Grand Tourer. Mercedes-Benz optimize the bodies by promoting a standardization at their assembly plant in Sindelfingen, but remain responsive to the specific needs of their clients.
On September 3, 2016, Bonhams sold at lot 16 for € 5.3M a 500 K Roadster coachworked in Sindelfingen. Completed in February 1935, this car is then the high-end of the brand and is immediately exhibited at the Auto Show in Berlin. It is in very good condition with its matching number engine.
It had previously been part of a tantalizing set of five vehicles demonstrating the dramatic progress of Mercedes-Benz into the later 1930s, with the 540 K introduced at the Salon de l'Auto of Paris in 1936 and the ultimate luxury, the 540 K Spezial launched in the same year, which will delight Göring.
In that sale made by RM Auctions on August 20, 2011, the 500 K Roadster was the earliest built of these five prestigious Mercedes-Benz and the only example in 500 K, the four others being 540 K. It was sold for $ 3.8M.
The other results were : $ 3M for a 1936 Cabriolet A, $ 3.1M for a 1936 Spezial Coupe, $ 9.7M for a 1937 Spezial Roadster and $ 4.6M for a Spezial Roadster from 1939 that was sold again for $ 7.5M by the same auction house in August 2013. The five cars were shown on the article shared by Sports Car Digest.
540K Spezial Roadster
Mercedes-Benz designed and produced the automotive masterpiece of the 1930s, the 540K Spezial Roadster. It is the biggest, the most powerful, the fastest, the most beautiful and the most expensive.
Its engine 5.4 liter with Kompressor makes the 540K the achievement of a technical evolution that will have no successor. The project of a 580K with an increase to 5.8 liters aborted.
It was offered with a variety of bodyworks according to the custom of the time. Aesthetically, the Spezial Roadster is a marvel due to the skill of the team of Hermann Ahrens and the engineers in Sindelfingen : its tapered shape makes forget its huge size. It has a long tail, which allows to state that it anticipates by eight decades the hypercars of today with the cockpit centered on the chassis.
It is the biggest, 5.10 m long, but its open cabin as a two-seater convertible is light. The weight gain enables a top speed at 185 km/h which is 25 km/h more than a 540K in a closed bodywork.
It is the most expensive : 28,000 Reichsmarks, which is 6,000 Reichsmarks more than any other model. This is an advantage because it appeals the elite as a car for prestige and parade, although nothing prevents pushing the performance of this roadster on an Autobahn.
It is much appreciated by the collectors. As early as October 31, 2007, a 540K Spezial Roadster made in 1937 had been sold for £ 3.9M by RM Auctions, lot 225.
1936 The Von Krieger Mercedes
2012 SOLD for $ 11.8M by Gooding
Known as a lover of beautiful cars, a Prussian aristocrat named von Krieger bought this Spezial Roadster as early as 1936 for his two children, but it was to his daughter Gisela, 23, to monopolize it for supporting her social life.
Then came the war. Baroness Gisela hid her car and then went to a reclusive life. After her death in 1989, her car was retrieved intact, with driving maps, lipstick-stained cigarette butts and silk gloves used by its owner four decades earlier.
2016 SOLD for $ 9.9M by RM Sotheby's
The political events in Germany did not prevent Mercedes-Benz to maintain an international clientele. This car had been delivered in April 1937 to an American dealer who sold it immediately to a collector, happy heir of one of the largest industrial fortunes.
2011 SOLD for $ 9.7M by RM Auctions
2022 for sale on August 19-20 by RM Sotheby's
waiting for catalogue
2013 SOLD for $ 7.5M by RM Auctions
Completed in August 1939 on a special order and delivered to its owner in Berlin, a Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster appears as the ultimate car of the most prestigious pre-war lineage.
It is equipped with the latest developments offered by Mercedes-Benz including the new five-speed transmission. Its one-off bodywork made in Sindelfingen marks the culmination of the aesthetic research aiming to bring to this massive two-seater roadster the same elegance as a sports car.
After the war it was used for a few years in East Berlin by Soviet diplomats and then transferred to Russia. It had become old-fashioned and was likely to be abandoned when an amateur managed to smuggle it into Sweden in 1967. After these adventures, its condition remains remarkably authentic with its original body and equipment including chassis and engine in matching numbers.
It was sold three times by RM. On August 20, 2011, then one of the five Mercedes-Benz demonstrating masterfully the evolution of the high-end of this brand from 1935 to 1939, it was sold for $ 4.6M. The pre sale release shared by Sports Car Digest illustrates these five wonders.
It was sold for $ 7.5M by RM Auctions on August 16, 2013, and for $ 6.6M by RM Sotheby's on January 20, 2017, lot 258.
1954 Fangio's W196
2013 SOLD for £ 19.6M by Bonhams
They must win. Mercedes managed to take the best driver, Juan Manuel Fangio, world champion in 1951 with Alfa Romeo, who had just won the first two grand prix of the season on a Maserati.
For their first collaboration, Mercedes and Fangio win the Reims grand prix on a W196 with enclosed wheels. Surrounding the wheel by a piece of bodywork is a theoretical advantage because it limits the impact of air friction. The top speed exceeds 200 km / h.
At that time, the skill of the pilot is prevailing on theories. The next grand prix, at Silverstone, is sinuous. Powerless against Ferrari, Fangio requires the withdrawal of the enclosing to improve his freedom of action. This is the right decision.
Thus are born the chassis 005 and 006 of the W196. With the open wheeled 006, Fangio wins the next two grand prix, in Germany at the Nürburgring and in Switzerland at Bremgarten.
The 006 has no rival for the title of most prestigious single-seater car of all time, formerly driven by the most skilful driver of all time. It was sold for £ 19.6M on July 12, 2013 by Bonhams.
An open wheeled W196 (perhaps the 006) is driven by Fangio himself during a demonstration at the Nürburgring in 1986. The image below is licensed under Creative Commons with attribution By Lothar Spurzem [CC-BY-SA-2.0-de (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/de/deed.en)], via Wikimedia Commons.
1955 Uhlenhaut Coupé
2022 SOLD for € 135M by RM Sotheby's
Employed by Mercedes-Benz since 1931, Uhlenhaut had been a lead designer of the Silver Arrows, of the Formula One highly successful W196 of JM Fangio fame and of the open top Rennsport 300 SLR of Stirling Moss fame. He was also behind the scene of the Le Mans winner W194 and of the road going 300 SL gullwing.
The Uhlenhaut coupés were assembled as two seaters with gullwing doors on two W196 chassis left unused after the 1955 Le Mans crash and the subsequent withdrawal of the brand from motor sport.
Both prototypes were retained by Mercedes-Benz from new. Uhlenhaut had one as a company car. He once drove the 230 km on the autobahn between Stuttgart and Munich in less than an hour.
The first one is on display in the museum of the brand. The second car was used as a demonstration car and was restored in 1986. It was sold for € 135M on May 5, 2022 by RM Sotheby's in a private auction, lot 1. The proceeds help to create a Mercedes-Benz fund for young researchers in environmental science and carbon dioxide reduction.
Please watch the video shared by the auction house, featuring with the hammer Oliver Barker, chairman of Sotheby's Europe.
1955 300 SL Alloy Gullwing
2022 SOLD for $ 6.8M by RM Sotheby's
The Alloy version also identified as Leichtmetall was released in 1955 for road going competition. The weight reduction is 80 kg from the basic steel model. 24 cars were produced in 1955 and 5 in 1956.
The 13th Alloy Gullwing had been delivered to the Mercedes-Benz agent in Casablanca. It was not used in competition in period and escaped the usual wear of its thin aluminum based body.
In a stunning condition with its matching number engine and original body, it was sold for $ 6.8M by RM Sotheby's on January 27, 2022, lot 159. Please watch the video shared by the auction house.
Another 1955 300 SL Alloy Gullwing that also retains its matching number engine was sold for $ 4.6M by Gooding on January 20, 2012, lot 27.
1955 300 SL Alloy Gullwing
2022 for sale on August 19-20 by RM Sotheby's
waiting for catalogue
The ultimate production version of Mercedes-Benz’s most iconic model, this 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Alloy Gullwing is the 14th of just 29 examples built and one of very few examples to retain its matching-numbers 3.0-liter NSL engine and original alloy body.#RMMonterey pic.twitter.com/eEXna9hSyr— rmsothebys (@rmsothebys) May 9, 2022