Arizona Biltmore
16 - 17 January 2014
Lot 109

1952 Mercedes-Benz 220 A Cabriolet "Earthly Paradise"


$187,000 USD | Sold

United States | Phoenix, Arizona



Chassis No.
  • An original work of art by Hiro Yamagata
  • Part of the “Earthly Paradise” series
  • Not only art but also properly restored

80 bhp, 2,195 cc inline six-cylinder engine, four-speed manual transmission, independent front suspension with wishbones and coil springs, swing-axle rear suspension with coil springs, and four-wheel hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 112 in.

Addendum: Please note it appears the clutch will need attention and repair prior to road use. Please see an RM Auctions representative for details.

Few modern enthusiasts are as passionate about the Mercedes-Benz 220 A Cabriolet as Malibu, California-based artist Hiro Yamagata. Since the early 1990s, Yamagata has worked on some three dozen of these cars, which have been acquired from all corners of the globe. Each has been carefully restored by expert craftsmen, down to their properly finished bodywork, correct upholstery, and even accurate interior woodwork and radio hardware. Once the cars are completed, however, they are not yet truly “complete.” The bodies are finished in white matte acrylic, and then the surface is roughened, providing a primer coat for Yamagata’s creative genius.

These “Earthly Paradise” cars are completely hand-painted by Yamagata, with designs that, in the words of art critic Sam Hunter, have “reversed the symbol of the car as an industrial, automated machine and brought it into harmony with nature. He has transformed it into a magical art object through his poetic vision.”

Designs of bright, beautiful birds and flowers create an exotic tableau that recalls vivid jungles and tropic nights. “Some people say the scenes I paint are dreamy or psychedelic,” Yamagata recalled. “I say, if you look closely at plants and animals —on land and in the ocean—the natural world is overflowing with psychedelic colors and creatures. I’m just painting from nature.”

Yamagata’s Cabriolets have been displayed as the focus of their own exhibit at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery, and they have also been attendees at the Venice Biennale in 1995 and on a tour of European museums that lasted through 1997. Very rarely have these unique and painstakingly created masterpieces been offered for sale, so the presentation of this striking example marks a unique opportunity. This car is no mere static sculpture, as the work that Yamagata’s craftsmen lavished on its mechanical and interior components has resulted in this Mercedes being one of the few “art cars” that can also be entered and driven, as Daimler-Benz intended.

Stunning to view and easy to drive, this remarkable piece of art is offered as an automobile that transcends mere metal. It is suitable for either one’s stable of fine motor cars or as the centerpiece of a connoisseur’s collection.