Lot 257

Monterey 2017

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Sport Cabriolet A by Sindelfingen


$2,585,000 USD | Sold

United States | Monterey, California



Chassis No.
Engine No.
  • Best of Show, 2015 Arizona Concours d’Elegance
  • Class award winner, 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
  • Formerly owned by Martha Jordans and Thomas Kreid
  • Factory Spezial Roadster-style design features, including a set-back radiator
  • Beautifully restored by marque expert Jim Friswold
  • Retains its original matching-numbers engine
  • Perhaps the ultimate 540 K cabriolet
Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

In an article for the October 1989 issue of Car Collector, Dennis Adler described a Mercedes-Benz 540 K Sport Cabriolet A as “a styling bridge between Mercedes’ more formal cabriolet designs and the sportier 540 K Spezial Roadsters.” Take one glance at that automobile, which is offered here today, and the resemblance is clear. It has the desirable feature of a radiator set back behind the front axle, enhancing the look of the long, sweeping front and rear fenders, which are similar to those found on the roadsters, aside from a lack of chrome adornment. The spare tires are contained in a recess at the rear of the body, while a set of Karl Baisch luggage rests on a shelf behind the front seats, compensating for the space lost by the lack of a traditional trunk. A lower top completes the sleek and spezial look.

The offering of this car is accompanied by a copy of its kommission paper and its related excerpt from the karosserie buch, which together detail the story of its delivery. In late 1936, this Sport Cabriolet A was ordered by Martha Jordans and recorded under kommission number 228752. Subsequently, the bare chassis that was assigned to the order, 154146, was delivered by the Stuttgart factory to the coachworks at Sindelfingen on 16 November 1936.

Interestingly, the documentation suggests that Miss Jordans placed this order in Paris, although the car was actually delivered on 12 February 1937 to her German home on Albertusstrasse in Mönchengladbach via Daimler-Benz Düsseldorf. Jan Melin’s first volume of Mercedes-Benz 8: The Supercharged 8-Cylinder Cars of the 1930s indicates that a total of 83 Cabriolet As of all the styles were built on the 540 K chassis, and it further defines that only 32 of this version, which was introduced in 1936, were constructed. Of additional significance is a handwritten note on the excerpt from the karosserie buch, which indicates the production of only 10 bodies of the 826200 series, and this car, body number 826201, is the first of these.

Miss Jordans reportedly later immigrated to the United States, bringing her attractive Mercedes-Benz with her. It can certainly be said that her car has always been well looked after, as it had been in collector hands since relatively early on in its life, beginning with car collector Paul Hauck, of Union, New Jersey. In the Spring 1957 issue of The Classic Car, the car is pictured wearing a pre-1956 New Jersey license plate. It was owned by Hauck until at least 1965, when it was pictured on page 220 of Jan Melin’s second tome on supercharged eight-cylinder Mercedes.

In 1989, the 540 K, which was in the ownership of American Mercedes-Benz enthusiast Tom Kreid, was featured in the aforementioned issue of Car Collector. According to Adler’s article, chassis number 154146 previously spent time in San Francisco during the 1970s, and it also spent five years in Colorado. In 1996, it returned to Germany under the ownership of Alfred Richter, of Lampertheim. Mr. Richter found this Mercedes-Benz to be a wonderful driving car, reportedly driving it on several rallies and accruing nearly 30,000 kilometers on the odometer before passing it to the current owner a few years ago.

Upon acquiring the car, the owner, a long-time Mercedes-Benz enthusiast and Pebble Beach entrant, commissioned Mercedes expert Jim Friswold, of Tigard, Oregon, to perform a complete concours-quality restoration. After the removal of the body, the chassis was stripped to bare metal and powder-coated, and the suspension was fully rebuilt. The transmission and rear end were completely disassembled and had new bearings and seals installed, while the engine had been previously rebuilt by Reifen-Wagner, of Landshut, Germany, under Mr. Richter’s ownership.

The cosmetics were given an equally thorough treatment, with all chrome being re-plated and the body being stripped and refinished in the highly attractive Burgundy color it now wears today. The interior restoration was equally fastidious: the old upholstery had been replaced with Biscuit Tan leather, all of the wood was beautifully refinished, and all instrumentation was fully rebuilt. The leather is of the correct and very high quality German material, as is the material used for the top and headliner. The work was completed in June 2014, and the car’s overall presentation can only be described as “crisp.”

Chassis number 154146 was presented at the 2014 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, placed behind an imposing 770 K and a coachbuilt 630 K. It went on to achieve Best of Show at the 2015 Arizona Concours d’Elegance.

This Sport Cabriolet A, wearing the most desirable of the cabriolet body styles, was deemed by Car Collector as “almost a Special Roadster.” More so, it is a rarity that is fit for the astute connoisseur of pre-war classics, and it likewise presents an opportunity for a serious entree into the pre-war arena.