W śnieżnej scenerii wygląda po prostu bajecznie. Mercedes 540 K Sport Cabriolet A to wóz dla prawdziwego konesera. Jego silnik ma 8 cylindrów umieszczonych w rzędzie i wyposażony w sprężarkę Rootsa nie tylko brzmi fenomenalnie, ale i zapewnia mu fenomenalne osiągi. W latach 30-tych był to najwyższy i najbardziej luksusowy model Mercedesa, współcześnie – obiekt zachwytu kolekcjonerów na całym świecie. Prezentowany egzemplarz sprzedany został za imponujące 11 milionów złotych (wliczając prowizję).
1938 MERCEDES-BENZ 540 K CABRIOLET A
Coachwork by Sindelfingen Chassis no. 154076 Engine no. 154076
€2 million – 2.5 million
PLN 8.2 million – 10 million
Sold for €2,760,000 inc.premium
THE MERCEDES-BENZ SALE
28 Mar 2015 14:00 CET
STUTTGART, MERCEDES-BENZ MUSEUM
1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A
Coachwork by Sindelfingen
Chassis no. 154076
Engine no. 154076
Body no. 828610
Together with its predecessor the 500 K, the magnificent Mercedes-Benz 540 K was arguably the most noteworthy production model offered by the Stuttgart firm during the 1930s, representing the pinnacle of its pre-war achievements. A development of the 500 K, whose independently suspended chassis it shared, the 540 K was powered by a 5.4-litre supercharged straight-eight engine. The 540 K was one of the first models developed under Mercedes’ new chief engineer, ex-racing driver Max Sailer, successor to Hans Nibel, who had died in November 1934 aged only 54. Mercedes-Benz’s flagship model, it featured the company’s famous Roots-type supercharger system in which pressing the accelerator pedal to the end of its travel would simultaneously engage the compressor and close off the alternative atmospheric intake to the carburettor. This system had been thoroughly proven on the preceding series of Dr Ferdinand Porsche-conceived S cars that had dominated racing during the 1920s, and in effect the 540 K was the last supercharged production Mercedes until relatively recent times.
Presented at the Paris Salon in October 1936, the 540 K was hailed by Mercedes-Benz as conjuring up ‘visions of breath-taking exploits of racing cars and drivers of international fame, but also of superlative comfort and coachwork of exquisite beauty, fine paintwork, brightly polished metal, the finest hardwoods and leather – massive and yet outstandingly attractive bodies – in short: the car for the connoisseur.’ It had an engine that developed 115PS un-supercharged or 180PS (178bhp) with the compressor engaged, while the gearbox was a four-speeder but with a direct top gear rather than the overdrive ratio used on the earlier 500K. With the supercharger engaged, the 540 K’s blown straight eight gave it a top speed approaching 110mph (177km/h). Servo-assisted hydraulic brakes provided adequate stopping power.
Its performance potential was such that Mercedes-Benz in the UK retained racing driver Goffredo ‘Freddy’ Zehender as technical adviser and demonstration driver, since the super-charged Mercedes was one of the few genuine 100mph road cars available in the 1930s.
Tested by Britain’s Motor magazine, the 540 K was judged to have less heavy steering and handling than its predecessor, the 500 K, plus an even more comfortable ride, even though the same all-round independent suspension layout with parallel links and coil springs at the front and swing axles at the rear was retained. The Motor’s test car returned 102mph over the timed quarter-mile with the supercharger engaged and 85mph with it disengaged. The servo-assisted brakes came in for fulsome praise, the blower was found to be relatively quiet and the springing more comfortable than that of the 500 K, while the steering and handling also compared favourably with that model.
In May 1938, the 540 K was tested by Motor’s rival magazine Autocar and achieved the highest maximum speed of any road-test car up to that date: carrying three pas¬sengers, the car reached 104.65mph (168.5km/h) on the race circuit at Brooklands, Surrey. ‘One’s foot goes hard down, and an almost demonical howl comes in,’ reported test driver H S Linfield. ‘The rev counter and speedometer needles leap round their dials: there is perhaps no other car noise in the world so distinctive as that produced by the Mercedes supercharger.’
Late in 1938, a revised 540 K made its appearance, with oval-section chassis tubes instead of channel frame members, while the adoption of sodium-cooled valves followed the company’s highly success¬ful racing practice. The manufacturing record of the 540 K reveals its exclusive nature: 97 being produced in 1936, 145 in 1937, 95 in 1938 and 69 in 1939 before the war ended series production (though three more were built up to July 1942). In recent years, the rarity, style and performance of these big supercharged Mercedes have made them one of the most sought-after of all classic cars on the few occasions they have come on the open market.
Delivered in Berlin on 5th February 1938, chassis number ‘154076’ was first owned by ‘Tauentzien – Verlag’, an advertising agency whose proprietor was one Georg Niedermeier. This particular 540 K Cabriolet A with its attractive enclosed spare wheel and sporty rear end not unlike those of certain ‘Spezial Roadsters’ is featured in Jan Melin’s reference work: ‘Mercedes-Benz Supercharged 8-Cylinder Cars of the 1930s’ (Volume 2, pages 222 & 223) in which it is pictured just after its restoration to concours condition at ‘Reifen Wagner’ in Germany, well known specialists for these Kompressor cars. Shown at the Louis Vuitton Bagatelle concours in 2001, the 540 K was owned in 2002 by Kenneth McBride of Seattle, WA, USA, returning to Europe in 2004 when it was purchased by the renowned Mercedes-Benz collector Etienne Veen. The current private vendor purchased the car from him in February 2006. Fully serviced and on the button, it comes with a UK V5C registration document.
Offering elegant two-seater accommodation allied to breathtaking performance, this rare and stylish 540 K cabriolet A represents the very best that money could buy in the late 1930s and is a fine example of this classic German model. As its maker said: ‘a car for the connoisseur’. Bonhams recommend close inspection of this highly desirable, rare and beautifully presented motor car.