• This Month's Issue

    Level Flier: At $220k, This Fighter-Plane-Inspired '09 Spyker Lands Close to Its Original MSRP

    $575k 1969 Aston Martin DB6 Mk I

    Viva l'Italia! In the Driver's Seat at Villa d'Este, the Mille Miglia and Modena Cento Ore

    Fast-Rising Collectible: "The Fast and the Furious" '93 Supra Stunt Car Hurtles to $200k

    Slow-Rising Collectible: Karmann Ghias Gain Ground

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  • SCM Platinum

    Over 200 cars that sold at auction covered in every issue of SCM. Our market reports include detailed information about the vehicle, including VIN, condition, options, and expert analysis from SCM's auction reporters.

    SCM Platinum is the largest database of collector cars sold at auction. Over 150,000 vehicles, including over 59,000 with detailed write-ups from our auction reporters.

    Now optimized for your mobile devices!

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  • Glovebox Notes

    SCM doesn't just cover collector cars. Every week, SCM reviews a brand new car online and in our newsletters, and there are new reviews every month in the magazine. Thinking of buying a new car? Check out our reviews!

    Read More
  • Insider’s Guide to Concours d’Elegance

    The 2014 guide includes a calendar of events and detailed descriptions of 21 featured concours.

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Recent Blog Posts

  • Bidding and Touring With One Good Arm +

    Mitch Silver was ready for me last Saturday at the Portland Expo Center. I asked if I could have a left-arm bidder's paddle, and he said yes. Tuesday I'd had rotator-cuff surgery, and my right arm was in a sling. That wasn't going to stop me from seeing if the Read More
  • Not Having a Good Day +

    (function(d, s, id) { var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0]; if (d.getElementById(id)) return; js = d.createElement(s); js.id = id; js.src = "//connect.facebook.net/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&version=v2.3"; fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs);}(document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'));He got fired later that dayMore videos? LIKE >> ZOO WeeklyPosted by ZOO Weekly on Tuesday, January 20, 2015 Read More
  • Two Alfas in the Shop, Four in the Garage – SCM Fleet Update +

    Fall is here. It's time to start shuffling the SCM cars around, putting the convertibles away for the winter and making sure the coupes and sedans are ready to go. Here's a quick look at the status of the cars in the SCM fleet: The 1965 Alfa Romeo Giulia Spider Veloce (pictured Read More
  • This Swiss Hillclimb Video is Two Minutes of Motorsport Bliss +

    Read More
  • Hitting Its Stride – The 2015 Pacific Northwest Concours +

    There's something magical that happens when a performance comes together. It doesn't matter whether it's a brilliant performance of the first movement of Beethoven's Fifth, a breath-taking rendition of Puccini's "Un bel di, vedremo" from "Madame Butterfly" or an explosive presentation of "Rocka My Soul" from Alvin Ailey's "Revelations." With Read More
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Collector Car News

  • Bonhams' Frederiksen Collection Sale Totals $21m +

    Bonhams' September 26 Frederiksen Collection sale in Denmark was the country's highest-grossing auction ever. Sales totaled $21.1m, and 43 of 49 cars sold (88%). At $2.7m, 1930 Duesenberg Model J Disappearing Top Roadster was the most valuable car ever sold at auction in Denmark. View the results here. Read More
  • Barrett-Jackson Announces New Northeast Auction at Mohegan Sun +

    Barrett-Jackson will host a new auction in the Northeastern United States at Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut, June 23-25, 2016. Mohegan Sun, one of the most spectacular entertainment, gaming, dining and shopping destinations in North America, will host the three-day collector car auction and lifestyle event for visitors from around Read More
  • Come See Us at Silver Portland +

    Silver returns to the Rose City this weekend for their twice-annual Portland sale. Stop by, check out the cool collectibles and pick up free copies of SCM and ACC. View the consignment list here. And if you see someone wearing an SCM hat, don't hesitate to introduce yourself.   Read More
  • Brass Era Trifecta Joins "Preserving the Automobile" Sale +

      Known as the "Preserving the Automobile" auction, Bonhams' October 5 sale in Philadelphia focuses on authentic, historically accurate and unrestored motorcars. Headliners include three pre-Great War automobiles from America and Great Britain: a 1907 Stearns 60hp tourer (Bonhams estimate: $650k–$850k); a 1908 Rainer Model D 45/50hp tourer ($250k–$350k); and a Read More
  • 1933 Maybach DS-8 Zeppelin Cabriolet to Sell at Bonhams' Frederiksen Auction +

    Star cars at Bonhams' September 26 Frederiksen Auction include a 1933 Maybach DS-8 Zeppelin Cabriolet (Bonhams estimate: $3m–$3.6m), a 1914 Mercedes 28/95 Phaeton ($1.5m–$2m) and a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster ($980k–$1.4m). The sale takes place in Ebeltoft, Denmark. View all the cars here. Read More
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1935 mercedes benz 500k special roadster

In 1933 the first of a new generation of Mercedes-Benz cars were issued from the Untertürkheim factory, incorporating advanced features for the time. The Mercedes-Benz 380 offered a fully independent suspension chassis with coil springs, unprecedented for the time. Front suspension was by dual A-arms, at the rear swing axles were used, giving ride and handling that were unprecedented for the time, even on racing cars.
The 380 was powered by a straight eight engine displacing 3820 cc. These impressive specifications, however, proved less than a match for the elaborate, and often heavy, coachwork Mercedes owners preferred, thereby diminishing the 380’s performance. So diminished, in fact, that only 154 were built before production ended barely a year after the model’s introduction.
The disappointment of the 380 was followed by the success of one of Mercedes-Benz’s great models, the W29 160-horsepower 500K which reintroduced the “K” (Kompressor) designation made famous by the SSK and SSKL. Almost as many 500Ks were built in the changeover year of 1934 (105) as in the 380’s two-year run. The 500K was an unabashedly luxurious automobile, as attested by its standard equipment. This included two spare wheels and tires, safety glass, electric windshield wipers, tool kit, lighted number plates, hydraulic brakes, central lubrication, a 12-volt electrical system and a four-speed gearbox with synchromesh on the top three gears.
Mercedes-Benz built a full line of eight bodies in its own coachworks at Sindelfingen, producing some of the most imposing and luxurious creations of an era of great coachbuilders. Sindelfingen bodies were equipped with luggage, internal lighting, map pockets, chromium-plated bumpers, electric directional signals and door locks as standard equipment. Sedans got roll-up window blinds. Open cars had fitted top boots. All glazing was safety glass. Befitting the bespoke creations they were, Sindelfingen’s clients could order additional equipment and features for their new 500Ks and there is no shortage of unique attributes in these automobiles.
The feature that distinguishes all supercharged Mercedes-Benz automobiles, beyond their quality and majesty, is the song of their supercharger, a high-pitched wail of finely meshed gears forcing immense quantities of air and fuel into volumes where it normally would not fit, drowning out all other sound in a tornado’s shriek of power and purpose.
Creating a sporting shape on the 500K’s 129-inch wheelbase, with a hood line high enough to clear the car’s long-stroke engine topped by its overhead camshaft and valve gear, is a daunting task. Only the most accomplished and sensitive designers have succeeded and their creations, whether on Mercedes-Benz, Duesenberg, Alfa Romeo or Rolls-Royce chassis, are masterpieces in the artful integration of disparate masses. Most owe their success to the skill and temperament of masterful individuals. It is a tribute to the management skills of Mercedes-Benz that the communal product of Sindelfingen’s designers and craftsmen joins these individual accomplishments, making the 500K Special Roadster one of the triumphs of automotive designs and remaining to this day one of the most beautiful cars ever created.
Offered in two successive versions, the first series Special Roadster, like the one pictured here, was a true sport roadster without side windows and had a disappearing top, a tapered tail topped by twin spares and stalk-mounted taillamps. The later, second series cars were heavier, not as sporting and traded the first series’ low doors for roll-up windows, a longer tail, flush taillamps and an inset flush-mounted spare.

{analysis}{auto}692{/auto} This first series Special Roadster sold at RM’s Amelia Island auction on March 10, 2001 for $2,970,000, including buyer’s premium.
As we reported in the May 2001 issue of SCM, this car was “Sexy, slinky, the Jean Harlow of 1930s motor cars.” Actually, there are few Mercedes-Benzes of the period that would earn this compliment: many of them have more the appearance of Wagnerian heroines than film stars.
But if 500K Special Roadsters are as attractive as Jean Harlow, they’re also as elusive as Greta Garbo. Prior to auction, this car had resided in a Japanese collection. It won the Gwen Graham Trophy for the Most Elegant Car at Pebble Beach in 1986 and since then has been maintained in concours-winning condition. Only one other example has gone across the auction block in recent memory: in 1989 Christie’s sold an unrestored 500K that had resided in a shed behind a butcher’s shop in the north of England. In fact, “unrestored” is a complimentary description. The British tabloids called it a “rodent-ravaged roadster” and for once they weren’t spewing hyperbole. Despite its shabby condition, this car topped a million pounds before selling, which at the time represented about $1,600,000.
This would make the RM car a relative bargain, given its superb condition and the obvious quality of its restoration. And I know it probably seems strange to see a car that cost more than most people earn in a lifetime called a “bargain” but, for a road-ready and show-ready example of what their catalog rightly called “one of the most beautiful cars ever created,” we’ll stick to that assertion. This car has it all and always will, just like a Rembrandt painting or a Degas sculpture.—Dave Brownell
(Historic data and photo courtesy of auction company.){/analysis}

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