The spiritual descendant of the legendary Mercedes-Benz SS/SSK models, the 540K was introduced in October of 1936 as the successor to the remarkable 500K. With more than 180 hp available, they were advertised as the fastest production cars in the world. Highly advanced for their era, they also benefited from some of the most striking coachwork of the prewar era. These massive automobiles were fitted with a 5.4-liter overhead valve, inline eight-cylinder engine driver-activated and gear-driven Rootes-type supercharger, twin pressurized updraft carburetors, four-speed transmission, four-wheel fully independent suspension and vacuum-assisted hydraulic brakes. Although Sindelfingen built a variety of Cabriolet bodies, a handful of special bodies were also built. This example is one of the most striking of these; it combines the four-passenger capabilities of the Cabriolet B with the elegant design cues of the legendary Special Roadster, including the magnificent 'vee' windshield. Less obvious but equally important is the sleek, disappearing top. The result is one of the most attractive bodies ever offered on the 540K chassis, and the rarest. Over 30 Special Roadsters were built, but it is believed that only two Sport Tourers were built, and this one is the only known survivor.
Thanks to the use of the supercharger, the 540K Mercedes models were part of a small set of passenger cars of the 1930's that were able to reach and exceed 100 mph (160 km/h). The use of supercharging earned Mercedes a legendary reputation in racing car circles. The 500K and 540K used racing technology, but were elegant and luxurious passenger cars. The bodies of the nicest examples of the 540 are the result of Mercedes internal work and not, as it was common in the times, of cooperation with external body-makers. They were produced in the Sindelfingen plant that had 1,500 employees and a production capacity of 500 bodies a month. The most luxurious bodies were treated with special care by a sort of 'special department.' There were numerous types of bodies available, from a coupe with a fixed roof to seven-seat formal sedans. Following WWII, this car was stored by an enthusiast in Dresden to hide it from Soviet officials. The man's house had a basement garage and after securing the car in it, he bricked up the entrance and filled the driveway with topsoil, planting a rose garden above it. With the fall of the Berlin wall, he felt it was safe to bring the car out and sell it to earn badly needed retirement funds. At the time, the car was highly original, but significantly deteriorated by age. The restoration of the car was completed in 2005.Also photographed at :
Prior to World War II, Mercedes-Benz reached the zenith of luxury car creation with their 540K series of car. Coming from a long heritage of powerful 6-cylinder supercharged cars, beginning with the S-Type and SSK, the 8 cylinder 540K was the culmination of years of development and refinement. Ferdinand Porsche started the development of the S-Type and SSK and Hans Nibel continued it into the 380K and 500K. The 540K was introduced in 1936 and developed 180 horsepower when the supercharged was engaged. Only 419 examples were constructed.
At 128-inches, the 540K had a 12-inch longer wheelbase than its predecessors. The longer wheelbase allowed the hood to be extended and the radiator pushed back. This gave the designer more liberty with the front fender shape. The factory coachworks Sindelfingen Werks produced a variety of custom and semi-custom bodies. Many of the Cabriolet type bodies suffered in appearance from the awkward look of the top when it was down. The finest bodies had disappearing tops, such as the Special Roadster. About 30 Special Roadsters were built.
Even rarer than the Special Roadster is this Special Tourer. With four passengers, the top is very difficult to engineer to completely disappear. Only two such cars were built and this is the only survivor. This car has been restored to its exact original configuration with all patterns taken from the original upholstery and top. It is repainted in the original subtle Champagne Silver.