1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster

Baroness Gisela von Krieger, the only daughter of an aristocratic German family, was renowned for her exquisite beauty, glamorous lifestyle and impeccable fashion sense.

After moving to Paris in 1933, Baroness von Krieger became the darling of European Society. In her 20s, the refined socialite lived at the grandest Parisian hotels, was voted one of the “10 Best Dressed Women in the World,” and attended the coronation of King George VI. Pursued by countless admirers, the baroness proved an elusive target. One desperate suitor even jumped from his plane over the English Channel when she refused his hand in marriage.

The 540K Special Roadster, presented here, one of the ultra-desirable high-door, long-tail variants, is a masterpiece of automotive design and the finest Mercedes-Benz of the Classic Era.

Ordered by Josephine von Krieger as a graduation present for her son Henning, the Special Roadster represents a dramatic expression of wealth and power. Finished in black, with pigskin upholstery, the 540K was custom tailored with exceptional details, including an expensive Telefunken radio, unique interior appointments and the family crest hand-painted on the driver’s door.

When Henning von Krieger was forced to return to Germany at the outbreak of World War II, Baroness von Krieger immediately assumed control of her brother’s supercharged Mercedes-Benz. After serving as the baroness’s preferred mode of transportation throughout her years of hiding in neutral Switzerland, the Special Roadster accompanied the family when they moved to New York City and later to Greenwich, CT. Carefully hidden away in an unassuming garage for more than four decades, the Special Roadster remained Gisela’s prized possession until her death in 1989.

In the care of its current owner, the von Krieger Special Roadster has been restored to its former splendor and received a prestigious First in Class at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. Faithfully presented in its original black livery, the von Krieger Special Roadster appears just as it would have in 1936.

A credit to its romantic provenance, unquestioned authenticity and remarkable documentation, the von Krieger Special Roadster is one of the most alluring and historically significant Mercedes-Benzes.

Ken Gross

Ken Gross - SCM Contributor

Ken has been an auto writer for 38+ years, and his work has appeared in Playboy, AutoWeek, Hemispheres, The Rodder’s Journal, Street Rodder and Hot Rod Magazine. He wrote the award-winning TV series “Behind the Headlights,” and his books include Hot Rods and Custom Cars, Los Angeles and the Dry Lakes: The Early Years, Art of the Hot Rod, Hot Rod Milestones and The Allure of the Automobile. He was curator of the “Allure of the Automobile” exhibit at the Portland Art Museum during the summer of 2011. He was director of the Los Angeles-based Petersen Automotive Museum and has judged at Pebble Beach for 20 years.

Posted in German