Mercedes 500K Special Roadster to prawdziwy szczyt techniki lat 30-tych, połączony z niezwykle efektowną stylistyką. Wyposażony w ośmiocylindrowy rzędowy silnik, po wciśnięciu gazu do dechy załączał mechaniczną sprężarkę Rootsa, zwiększającą moc ze 100 do 160 KM, przy jednym z najpiękniejszych akompaniamentów w historii motoryzacji. Prezentowany egzemplarz z kolekcji Henrika Frederiksena narodził się jako czteroosobowy Cabriolet C i został na początku XXI wieku przebudowany do wersji „long tail” Special Roadster w warsztacie Franza Prahl’a. Odwzorowane tu zostały wszystkie detale oryginalnej konstrukcji, a jakość wykonanej pracy stoi na najwyższym poziomie. Samochód sprzedany został za ok. 4,3 mln PLN, wliczając prowizję domu aukcyjnego.
A superb Franz Prahl-built
1935 MERCEDES-BENZ 500K 'SPECIAL ROADSTER’
DKK 6.5 million – 9 million
PLN 3.7 million – 5.1 million
Sold for DKK 7,590,000 (PLN 4,295,542) inc. premium
THE FREDERIKSEN AUCTION
26 Sep 2015 14:00 CEST
A superb Franz Prahl-built
1935 MERCEDES-BENZ 500K 'SPECIAL ROADSTER’
Coachwork in the Style of Sindelfingen
Chassis no. 113688
Engine no. 113688
5,018 cc OHV Supercharged Inline 8-Cylinder Engine
100 bhp or 160 bhp with Supercharger Engaged
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Independent Front Suspension – Rear Swing Axles
4-Wheel Servo-Assisted Hydraulic Drum Brakes
*The pinnacle of 1930s automotive technology
*Legendary supercharged straight-eight engine
*Coveted „long tail” Special Roadster body
*Matching numbers chassis and engine with Cabriolet C body from new
*Masterfully recreated coachwork by Franz Prahl
THE MERCEDES-BENZ 500 AND 540K
Designed for the network of high-speed Autobahns that was spreading across Germany in the 1930s, the Mercedes-Benz 500K represented the ultimate in automotive engineering in its day. Technically, it was fitted with all-round independent suspension by swing axles and an unusual gear shift, with the direct drive top semi-automatically engaged. The unique system of supercharging used by Mercedes-Benz was derived from the company’s experience in aero-engine design, where a system of „at will” supercharging had enabled World War I German aircraft to gain a performance advantage by boosting engine power at altitude.
Uniquely, the Mercedes supercharger was only clutched in at full throttle, rather like the „kick-down” on an automatic transmission, to give a short power boost for overtaking or hill climbing. Pushing the gas pedal to the floor engaged the train of gears that drove the Roots-type blower, unleashing up to 50 per cent more power and a banshee shriek. Few experiences in motoring can match the sound and fury of a supercharged Mercedes-Benz in full flight: „One’s foot goes hard down, and an almost demoniacal howl comes in…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,” wrote H.S. Linfield of The Autocar in 1936: „This is a master car for the very few. The sheer insolence of its power affords an experience on its own.”
The straight-eight 5,018 cc 500K, which was a development of the supercharged Kompressor line that had begun with the 380K of 1932, was an exclusive and powerful model for an equally exclusive and powerful clientele. Developed by chief engineer of Mercedes-Benz, former racing driver Dr. Hans Nibel, the 500K was introduced in 1934 and only 354 chassis were built of all styles before the model was superseded by the 540K: 105 in 1934, 190 in 1935 and 59 in 1936.
While the 500K line carried some of the most dazzling coachwork of its day, undoubtedly the crowning glory was the Spezial Roadster body, custom built by Mercedes-Benz’s own coachworks, the Karrosserie Sindelfingen to the designs of the gifted Hermann Ahrens. Compared with the standard Roadster version at 22,000 Reichsmark (USD 8,800), the Special Roadster had a basic price of 28,000 Reichsmark (USD 11,200). At that price, Mercedes was willing to incorporate any demands the customer might have. As a result, the Special Roadster came in a number of subvariants, where the model with an extended rear deck, the so-called „long tail”, remains the most coveted.
Writing of Ahrens’ flowing roadster designs in particular, the late respected historian Griffith Borgeson said: „There is a harmony and balance of line and mass…which very simply defies any conceivable improvement. They are sculptural perfection… For many people of taste, more beautiful cars will never be designed and built.” Certainly that was a view shared by some of the most powerful men in 1930s Germany, like the portly Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, whose famed eggshell-blue Special Roadster was captured by US paratroops at the fall of Germany and nicknamed „The Blue Goose” when it was subsequently used as command car by General Maxwell Taylor before being sent to the United States in October 1945. Another keen user of the Special Roadster was the unsmiling head of Nazi motorsport, Korpsführer Adolf Hühnlein of the NSKK, whose backing enabled the Mercedes and Auto Union racing cars to dominate the major races of the 1934 – 1939 era; he owed his unique position to the fact that it was his shock troops who had protected the first meeting held by rising politician Adolf Hitler back in 1919.
THE MOTOR CAR OFFERED
Production of the Special Roadster was extremely limited, and only 29 of the 58 roadsters built on both 500K and 540K chassis qualified for the Spezial nomenclature. The car offered here, originally built as a Cabriolet C, was re-bodied as a Special Roadster during the course of a meticulous rebuild to the highest standards by the respected German restorer, the late Franz Prahl of Waldstrasse 3, Preussisch Oldendorf in Lübbecke, Germany.
The factory Cabriolet came in a variety of styles: Cabriolet A, B, C and D with desirability generally in that order. According to the archives of Mercedes-Benz Classic in Stuttgart, the chassis on offer today was originally delivered as a model 500K Cabriolet C on 12 November 1935. The Kommissionsnummer was 203108, pertaining to chassis number 113688 and engine number 113688. The factory-built Cabriolet C body was given number 817114, and the completed car was shipped to Brussels.
The bodyshop of Franz Prahl first became known in the early 1990s when he began to restore Iso Grifo and Bizzarrini cars. These Italian thoroughbreds had not been held in high regard, and as a result, many had received poor quality restorations which quickly deteriorated. Prahl saw that these dramatic sports cars would soon come into their own and helped change the market for them dramatically by restoring them to a world class standard that simply had not been seen before.
In the early 2000s, Prahl began creating Special Roadsters on original Mercedes 500K and 540K chassis – at a snail’s pace which became perfectly understandable once Prahl’s forensic attention to detail became apparent. From about 2002, visitors at the Technoclassica car show in Essen, Germany could admire these recreations on the Franz Prahl stand, as they took shape, ever so slowly. One year the wooden frame could be admired on the restored chassis. The next, the perfectly recreated brushed metal skin would be shown on the wooden frame, complete with the exactingly manufactured brass fittings. And finally, the year after, the perfect completed car would be on the stand, dazzling the onlookers and defying them to be able to tell the difference between the almost manic quality of Prahl’s creation and one of the cars built by Sindelfingen in the mid-1930s.
Chassis 113688 is one of these cars and it was bodied by Franz Prahl in 2008-2011 to these incredible standards. He bought the partly-restored chassis with matching engine from the well-known restoration company Reifen-Wagner in 2008. After completion, Wagner performed a thorough service and installed an electric power steering unit in the summer of 2011. Henrik Frederiksen acquired the car in the fall of that year.
Resplendent in deep, glossy black paint, complemented by a tasteful interior upholstered in saddle leather which offsets the striking and exquisite mother-of-pearl dashboard perfectly, this car is in every way an absolute show stopper. If any car of the 1930s can be said to be the stuff of legend, surely it is the Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster. The flowing wings and flamboyant external exhausts epitomize the technical prowess of the Third Reich, while the incredibly lean and slinky lines make it clear that some objects of enduring beauty were still being created in Germany, even as the Nazi regime was hurtling the world towards all-out War. This stunningly-presented car offers a rare opportunity of entering into that legend.