Together with its predecessor the 500K, the magnificent Mercedes-Benz 540K was arguably the most noteworthy production model offered by the Stuttgart firm during the 1930s.
A development of the 500K, whose independently suspended chassis it shared, the 540K was powered by a 5.4-liter supercharged straight-8 engine. The 540K featured the company’s famous Roots-type supercharger system, in which pressing the accelerator pedal to the end of its travel would engage the compressor.
Launched at the Paris Salon in October 1936, the 540K developed 115 hp un-supercharged or 180 hp with the compressor engaged. With the supercharger engaged, the 540K’s blown straight-8 gave it a top speed approaching 110 mph.
Although the 500K/540K chassis attracted the attention of many of the better quality bespoke coachbuilders of the day, the company’s own Sindelfingen coachwork left little room for improvement. The cabriolet came in a variety of styles, and this right-hand-drive example has the cabriolet C option, which offered four-seater accommodation allied to the sporty two-door look.
Factory records show that chassis number 169312 was produced in November 1937 and delivered new to Messrs. Campbell Symonds and Co., London, England, unlike many of these models, which remained in Germany.
The 1937 540K Cabriolet C was finished in black as it is today and first registered in January 1938 to Captain Rethymnia with U.K. registration number HMF 419. The Cabriolet C subsequently left for the United States, only to be re-imported into Europe in 1997, since when it has been in the vendor’s ownership.
Mercedes Classic has confirmed this rare and desirable cabriolet C to be matching numbers. Presented in superb condition, the car has been with the Italian Mercedes-Benz registry since 1998, carrying car number 252.