The merger of Daimler and Benz in the mid 1920s came at a time of acute difficulty for the German motor industry. Competition success such as Rudolf Caracciola’s 1930 European Hillclimb Championship in a supercharged SSK helped sales, which had risen to 6,000 in 1932 from a workforce reduced to 9,000 by the virtual closure of the Benz factories. The addition of smaller cars as commercial vehicles saw output rise to 25,000 in 1935, of which a mere 190 were the flagship 5-liter supercharged models.
The 500K was current between 1933 and 1935 and a few of the later chassis were fitted with the experimental 5.4-liter engine of the subsequent 540K, which pushed top speed to substantially more than 100 mph. The 500/540K were the natural successors to the famous supercharged sports models of the 1920s and early 1930s, but with more refinement and comfort.
The Mercedes build sheet indicates that this car was delivered new on the 20th March 1935 to the British Mercedes-Benz distributor. The Mercedes Register also shows that the car’s first owner was Captain Fletcher. It is interesting to note amongst the famous owners, in the UK, of the 500K model such names as Hon. Miss Dorothy Paget, Sir Max Aitkin, Maharajah of Bravancur and Madame Conan Doyle to name but a few.
There are no records to indicate when this very rare and stylish English coachwork by Windovers was fitted to this chassis and perhaps was fitted when the car was first delivered to England. However it is certainly a period body built prior to the Second World War. At some stage the car found its way to the USA. It returned to the UK in the 1980s. In excess of $150,000 has been spent to bring this vehicle to its present excellent condition.
Recent work includes new paintwork, black mohair top, burgundy leather upholstery, carpets, and six Firestone tires. The Windovers body, believed to be unique, allows the roofline to lie horizontal in the fully open position, unlike the factory-bodied Cab B’s and Cab C’s, enabling the elegant lines to be fully appreciated. This example is believed to be the only three-position drop head in existence.
This supercharged Mercedes-Benz is resplendent in traditional black, offset against the chromework and sumptuous burgundy leather upholstery. With twin air horns, driver’s spot lamp and outside exhausts, this fabulous example of 1930s opulence exudes both power and grace.