- The most attractive “second series” iteration, in very elegant colors
- Recent service by marque authority Rolf Wagner
- Accompanied by original data plate and copy of original kommission paper
The 540 K was Mercedes-Benz’s finest standard supercharged eight-cylinder offering of the Classic Era, improving upon the prior 500 K with a more potent 180-horsepower supercharged engine on a longer 3,250-milimeter chassis. It was a faster automobile with better ride quality, and the lengthened wheelbase enabled the factory coachbuilders at Sindelfingen to truly work their magic with a long hood and marvelous sweeping fenders. The 540 K truly announced itself, in more ways than one. The scream of the supercharger as the driver accelerates, forcing pressurized air and fuel through the carburetor, is not soon forgotten by those who experience it.
Many of the 540 K’s Sindelfingen coachwork offerings were produced in three distinctive series. The “second series” was the first truly created for this chassis, with little owed to the previous 500 K; the fenders were now deeply skirted, but attractively so, and the Cabriolet B featured a unique gently sloping, smooth rear deck, rather than the “trunkback” of the first and third iterations. It is widely considered to be the most attractive version of this style, and the most sought-after by modern enthusiasts.
According to a copy of its original kommission sheet, chassis number 169367 was completed in 1937 and, though originally intended for Scandinavia, was instead routed to a German client. The initial order was placed by the Kores Company A.G. on 2 February 1938, but this order was cancelled on 3 March; on 13 April, the order was reassigned to Märkische Baugesellschaft, in the affluent Charlottenburg area of Berlin.
In more recent decades the car was disassembled for a restoration and was subsequently completed by Rolf Bunte, photos of which are on file. It was subsequently acquired by the Portuguese collector Jose Miguel Rodrigues of Gemunde, as indicated by a copy of its homologation certificate from Clube Português de Automóveis Antigos.
The Cabriolet B was acquired for the present owner’s collection in 2013, and has remained a favorite since. More recently it underwent mechanical servicing in the hands of renowned marque authority, Rolf Wagner, whose expertise in the supercharged eight-cylinder Mercedes-Benz is unsurpassed. The engine was thoroughly checked, fluids changed, and the carburetor and starter motor both rebuilt, and a tune-up was performed along with other various smaller items at a total cost of 24,000 Euro, with the resulting automobile now running and driving well.
The car retains its original typenschild or data plate, and the original chassis number is still stamped on the driver’s side frame rail. Under the hood, the engine carries the internal engine prefix stamping with the serial number having been removed, indicating that the motor had been exchanged at some point in the car’s life. Finished in an elegant black and gray with black cloth top and chromed wire wheels, accented by highly detailed hubcaps, it is a striking automobile, even more so when climbing into the green leather interior surrounded by burled walnut and mother-of-pearl inlay. Accompanying the car is a file of restoration photos and a reprinted owner’s manual, as well as invoices for the recent Wagner servicing.
This is a lovely example of the “second series” Cabriolet B, a gorgeous supercharged beast for the devotee of pre-war German engineering.