Mercedes-Benz 540K wins at Pebble Beach
A Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster won the prestigious ‘Best of Show’ title at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on Sunday, 20th August, 2023.
The performance luxury car prevailed over a top-class field of exclusive classic cars in the jury vote at the final event of Pebble Beach Automotive Week that ran from 17th to 20th August.
This victory marked the 10th ‘Best of Show’ title for a Mercedes-Benz vehicle since the first Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance that was held in 1950. This means that Mercedes-Benz is now the most successful brand in the history of this crowning event in the classic-car calendar.
This 540 K Special Roadster was originally ordered in May 1937 for Mohammed Zahir Shah, then King of Afghanistan and was delivered in September of the same year.
The King opted for this standout product from Mercedes-Benz: the Special Roadster with Sindelfingen bodywork is a highly elegant sculpture, exuding performance and speed. It is characterised by the high side-line of the doors, curved body contours, with a recessed radiator and a flowing rear end with concealed spare wheel.
Joining a winning stable
After five changes of ownership in seven decades, the car was purchased by current owner, Jim Patterson, at the Pebble Beach Automotive Week auction in 2022, for US$9.9 million.
Incidentally, vehicles from Jim’s collection were winners of the ‘Best of Show’ at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 2015 (Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Worblaufen cabriolet, built in 1924) and 2010 (Delage D8 S de Villars roadster, built in 1933).
The most recent Mercedes-Benz winners of the ‘Best of Show’ award were Arturo and Deborah Keller’s Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier, in 2021 and Bruce McCaw’s Barker-bodied Mercedes-Benz Type S touring car, in 2017.
RM Auto Restoration and Mercedes-Benz Heritage contributed to the restoration of the 2023 winner.
In the months since Jim Patterson acquired the car at the 2022 auction, the 540 K Special Roadster has been restored to the strictest standards of authenticity by RM Auto Restoration, in close cooperation with the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre.
In addition to the professional support of the experts from Mercedes-Benz Heritage during the work on the vehicle, detailed documentation of the history of the car by the Mercedes-Benz Classic archives in Fellbach played a particularly important role.
“We are proud to have contributed to this success story with the unique expertise of our Classic Centre and the archives,” said Marcus Breitschwerdt, head of Mercedes-Benz Heritage.
“The intensive, excellent cooperation with RM Auto Restoration during the past months has made this success possible.”
This comprehensive know-how also goes into the expert reports by Mercedes-Benz Classic, which are esteemed worldwide. Each expert report is a unique document of originality, based on extensive archive research as well as analyses of the vehicle itself, including the original materials used. This is the basis for a detailed description of the biography of the automobile in question and a precise assessment of its authenticity that is said to be uniquely authoritative in the classic scene.
The Untertürkheim plant produced a total of 760 chassis for the 500K and 540K models of the W29 series between February 1934 and November 1939. Of these, 354 had the five-litre engine and 406 the 5.4-litre engine that was used from 1936 onwards.
Nine body variants were available and were completed at the Sindelfingen plant’s special vehicle workshop. About 60 units of the variants with roadster bodywork were produced.
The documentation in the Mercedes-Benz archives and other documents recount the first steps of this 540 K Special Roadster. This exclusive vehicle was ordered by the Afghan Royal Court in 1937 and delivered in the autumn of that year.
In the mid-1940s, the French-educated monarch brought the vehicle to the Afghan embassy in Paris, before it was sent to Great Britain in 1950 as a gift for his son-in-law. It was then sold to a US collector in 1953 sand crossed the Atlantic.
Throughout its much-travelled history, the 540 K Special Roadster has always been maintained and preserved in authentic condition and has very few miles on the clock.