This 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier is an excellent example of the use of aerodynamics during the 1930's and 1940's. The Mercedes-Benz 540K was launched in 1936 and immediately became a sought-after vehicle by those who still had the means to afford such expensive baubles in the years immediately following The Great Crash.
As with many of the fine automobiles of that era, a separate coachwork house could be commissioned to create a custom body to suit the owner's taste. This particular car was commissioned by a wealthy German industrialist who had Mercedes' own in-house styling department, the Sindelfingen body works, develop its elegant sheet metal. It is a rare car, indeed: a 1939 with special roadster bodywork attached to a short-wheelbase chassis.
Quality, elegance and comfort were the primary concerns. And because of the high build quality and durability of the components used in the construction of both 500K and 540K models, these Mercedes are considered to be the most durable and among the most collectable of pre-war cars.
Only five of these were built, of which only three are known to have survived to present day.
This car was originally delivered on November 6th of 1939 to Erhard Milch, Secretary for Air and Inspector General of the Luftwaffe. In conjunction with Ernst Udet, WWI Flying Ace, Milch was responsible for the growth and development of the Luftwaffe, and accountable to Herman Goering.
The car was restored in Switzerland for a private collector, Count Hartenburg, who purchased the car in a derelict state in the late 1960's or early 1970's. The restoration required two years and was completed in 1984. The car was placed in Count Hartenburg's Museum in Baden Germany. When he died, the 540K was sold to Coys of Kensignton, London.
In May of 1991, the car was purchased by Fred M. Kemp, an Architect and Developer in St. Louis, MO.Also photographed at :