1928 Mercedes-Benz 36/220 S-Type Open Tourer

This extraordinary S-type has been preserved within its very first family ownership for no fewer than the past 84 years. The original owner was a former military captain who had the rare distinction for a British Army officer of having served throughout (and survived) World War I. He ordered the S-type on February 28, 1928, from The British Mercedes Limited and commissioned Cadogan Motors Ltd. to create and fit a lightweight fabric-skinned body to his specification.

It was very similar to the Sindelfingen factory bodies but promised to be lighter, and the captain’s London home (now demolished) was in Curzon Street in Mayfair, so Cadogan’s workshop in Chelsea was just around the corner.
The captain made a number of modifications to the car, matching it to his personal preferences. In, we believe, 1931, the standard gearbox was replaced by a British ENV/Armstrong-Siddeley-type Wilson pre-selector gearbox, with gear selection from a neat quadrant control in the center of the dashboard. The mid-ships chassis cross-brace was revised and re-sited to accommodate this change. A steering damper was also adopted, being mounted diagonally beneath the front dumb-irons.

The captain decided that such a special motor car deserved and required garaging within a dedicated motor house, and so at his country residence he had such a building custom made for the car. From around 1931 until 2012, this Mercedes-Benz has been accommodated within this tailor-made building.

The captain used this Mercedes-Benz quite sparingly during his ownership, seemingly considering it proper transport essentially for high days and holidays. But he died on May 28, 1940, at the tragically early age of 47. Ownership of the Mercedes-Benz then passed to his 10-year-old son.

In the 1950s, still with very little mileage completed, the car was put up on blocks, where it rested until 2012, when ownership of the car passed to the captain’s grandson. He revived the old Mercedes-Benz — with typical family discretion, in secret, without his father’s knowledge — to running order, in time for his parent’s 75th birthday.

The car was secretly entrusted to specialist Alan Hancock, who had been contacted upon private recommendation from a family friend and collector, and it proved to run incredibly well, ticking over with jaw-dropping silence and driving very nicely, although the aged exhaust system provides understandably unrefined accompaniment at higher engine speeds.

Subsequently, the owner replaced the back-axle drive gear; a German source was located that could machine a new replacement from steel, complying with the period-correct grade and treatment.

A Daimler-Benz Classic factory engineer conducted a non-invasive, non-destructive inspection of ER 9555 as offered here. The resultant factory report — in which component serials have been checked against original period archive records — confirms the car’s originality.

Paul Hardiman

Paul Hardiman - SCM Senior Auction Analyst

Paul is descended from engineers and horse thieves, so he naturally gravitated toward the old-car marketplace and still finds fascination in the simpler things in life: looking for spot-weld dimples under an E-type tail, or counting the head-studs on a supposed Mini-Cooper engine. His motoring heroes are Roger Clark, Burt Levy, Henry Royce and Smokey Yunick — and all he wants for next Christmas is an Alvis Stalwart complete with picnic table in the back and a lake big enough to play in.

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