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Mercedes-Benz History

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K

Chassis number : 169396

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Sold for $1,312,500 at 2013 Bonhams - The Scottsdale Auction.
The Mercedes-Benz 540K was a development of the 500K and shared the same independent suspension chassis. The 540K was one of the first models developed under Mercedes' new chief engineer, Max Sailer. Powering the 540K was a 5.4-liter supercharged straight-eight engine featuring the company's Roots-type supercharger system in which pressing the accelerator pedal to the flood would simultaneously engage the compress. it would also close off the alternative atmospheric intake to the carburetor. This system had been developed, tested, and proven on the Dr. Porsche-conceived S-Type cars.

Making its debut in October of 1936 at the Paris Salon, the 540K offered 115bhp in un-supercharged form, or 180bhp with the compressor engaged. The gearbox was a four-speed, but with a direct top gear rather than the overdrive ratio used on the earlier 500K. Braking was handled by servo-assisted hydraulic drums.

The Mercedes-Benz 540K was one of the genuine 100mph road cars available during the 1930s. In supercharged form (and at a cost of around 11mpg petrol consumption), the 540 could approach speeds of 110 mph. (85mph when the supercharger was disengaged).

In 1938, a revised 540K was introduced featuring an oval-section chassis tube instead of channel frame members. In keeping with the company's successful racing practice, the engine adopted sodium-cooled valves.

This example is a Cabriolet 'A' with two-door, 2+1 seater coachwork built by Mercedes' own Sindelfingen coachwork. The design was handled by Hermann Ahrens, design chief at Sindelfingen. It rides on wire wheels, twin side-mounted spares, exposed landau irons, twin horns and a center spotlight.

The order number for this car was 262498 and it was one of at least two cars in this series delivered to Mercedes-Benz of Paris at that time. The car was completed early in 1938 and transferred to Paris on March 20th of 1938. Though its very early history is not known, it was brought to the United States by an Army officer, Colonel William H. Kendall of Sarasota, Florida. Col. Kendall retained the car until 1970, when ownership passed to Paul Karassik. Mr. Karassik would keep the car for more than four decades. A short time after Mr. Karassik purchased the car, he treated it to a refurbishing with new paint in the deep burgundy tone which it still wears. The original leather was re-dyed and a new top was fitted.

Period features include a round faced Becker Radio, fabric radiator cover, and a fold away luggage rack.

There were just 97 examples of the 540K produced in 1936. 145 were built in 1937, 95 in 1938 and 69 in 1939. An additional three more cars were built up to July 1942. It is believed that around 83 examples were the Cabriolet A body style.

In 2013, the car was offered for sale at the Bonhams Auction in Scottsdale, Arizona. As bidding came to a close, the car had been sold for the sum of $1,312,500 including buyer's premium.


By Daniel Vaughan | Feb 2013

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2013 Bonhams - The Scottsdale Auction

Sale Price :
USD $1,312,500

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Auction Sales

Recent Sales of the Mercedes-Benz 540K

(Data based on Model Year 1938 sales)
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Drophead Coupe by Lancefield
Chassis#: 169317
Sold for USD$1,050,000
  2022 RM Sothebys : Monterey
 
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A by Sindelfingen
Chassis#: 189391
Sold for USD$1,132,500
  2022 RM Sothebys : Monterey
 
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet B
Chassis#: 130903
Sold for USD$836,000
  2016 Worldwide Auctions - The Houston Classic
 
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster by Nawrocki
Sold for USD$1,870,000
  2015 Auctions America - California
 
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet B
Chassis#: 169367
Sold for USD$1,289,033
  2013 RM Auction - London
 
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Cabriolet A
Chassis#: 154133
Sold for USD$2,200,788
  2013 RM Auction - London
 
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K cabriolet
Chassis#: 169333
Sold for USD$900,205
  2013 Bonhams - Les Grandes Marques du Monde au Grand Palais
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K image  1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K image  
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet 'A'
Chassis#: 169396
Sold for USD$1,312,500
  2013 Bonhams - The Scottsdale Auction
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K image  1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K image  
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K
Sold for USD$946,000
  2009 The Scottsdale Auction : Gooding & Company
 
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A
Chassis#: 169397
Sold for USD$1,035,868
  2005 Bonhams - Important Collectors' Motor Cars
 
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster
Chassis#: 189387
Sold for USD$1,017,500
  2005 The Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction
 
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Sport Cabriolet
Sold for USD$973,500
  2003 Monterey Sports and Classic Car Auction
 

Mercedes-Benz 540Ks That Failed To Sell At Auction

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K's that have appeared at auction but did not sell.
VehicleChassisEventHigh BidEst. LowEst. High
1938 MERCEDES-BENZ 540K ROADSTER1693172016 Bonhams The MercedesBenz Sale $2,100,000$2,700,000
1938 MERCEDES-BENZ 540 K SPEICAL PHAETON111025100048132003 Kruse Auctions Las Vegas, NV$0  

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1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K vehicle thumbnail image  1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K vehicle thumbnail image  

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Profiles

1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K vehicle information
Chassis #: 169333
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K vehicle information
Sport Cabriolet
Coachwork: Erdmann & Rossi
Chassis #: 232697
Engine #: 154099
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K vehicle information
Special Tourer
Coachwork: Sindelfingen
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K vehicle information
Roadster
Designer: Friedrich Geiger
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K vehicle information
Cabriolet A
Coachwork: Sindelfingen
Chassis #: 169316
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K vehicle information
Cabriolet A
Coachwork: Sindelfingen
Chassis #: 169396
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K vehicle information
Cabriolet
Coachwork: Norrmalm
Chassis #: 169389