Lot 224

Miami 2024

1930 Mercedes-Benz 770 K Pullman Cabriolet by Voll & Ruhrbeck

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$2,500,000 - $3,000,000 USD | Not Sold

United States Flag | Coral Gables, Florida

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language
Chassis No.
83807
Engine No.
U 83807
Documents
US Title
  • Originally delivered to King Faisal I of Iraq; used by three generations of Iraqi Royalty
  • Formerly part of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum Collection for 55 years
  • Superbly engineered supercharged eight-cylinder engine, one of the finest of its era
  • Perhaps the best-known 770 K in North America, seen in many books and events
  • Imposing and handsome custom coachwork by one of the finest Berlin shops
  • A Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) Full Classic

THE MERCEDES-BENZ 770

Introduced in 1930, the W07 generation of Mercedes-Benz 770 established the Grosser tradition that would be continued in the 1960s by the 600 and in the early 2000s by the Maybach. It was engineered and built essentially without object of cost to be the world’s finest luxury car, unparalleled for its combination of smooth performance and utter cossetting, with a vast 148-inch-wheelbase chassis accommodating coachwork of regal bearing. Abundant power was available from a 7.7-liter straight eight-cylinder engine and four-speed transmission with vacuum-operated overdrive. Buyers who sought additional performance could order the car with an optional supercharger, as seen on the company’s competition models, which engaged under full throttle for an output of a full 200 horsepower—sufficient for a top speed of nearly 100 mph.

Each 770 was built to order for its discerning original owner, not infrequently a State government. Unsurprisingly, in eight years of production, just 107 of these extremely exclusive cars were produced. Worldwide conflict claimed the majority of them within two decades of their creation, and the scarce survivors are closely held, largely in museums worldwide, including Daimler-Benz’s own in Stuttgart. Not every 770 that went to a museum remained in one, however, and such is the tale of chassis number 83807.

THREE KINGS, THE INDIANAPOLIS MOTOR SPEEDWAY, AND A 770 K

Correspondence from Mercedes-Benz of North America, included in this car’s file, indicates that the supercharged 770 K chassis was ordered by King Faisal I of Iraq in December 1930, with coachwork to be fitted by an outside firm and final delivery made in the spring of 1931. Production information on file from Mercedes-Benz Classic Center confirms actual delivery was in August in Berlin. The chosen coachbuilder was Karosserie Voll & Ruhrbeck, a highly respected firm known for the very solid construction and superb craftsmanship of their bodies, most famously on Horch chassis. Their work on the Iraq 770 K was a handsome Pullman Cabriolet, with a polished beltline lightening the otherwise formal design; it was an automobile that looked befitting of Royalty.

According to a letter from the Lebanon Mercedes-Benz representative, Faik J. Obayda, at the time that he was representing the car in 1966, the 770 K was purchased by the King as a State car, which he took on his first visit to Shah Reza Pahlavi of Persia. Following the death of Faisal I, his son King Ghazi I took over use of the car until his death in 1938, after which it remained largely garaged until his son and heir, Faisal II, came of age in 1954. Mr. Obayda was asked in 1957 to undertake “a general over haul of this historical car,” for which it was shipped back to Stuttgart, after which it was returned to the King in 1958. Wonderful photographs included in the file show the car’s triumphant arrival back in Iraq via cargo plane!

In late 1966, the 770 K became available for sale in Baghdad, and Daimler-Benz notified the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, at the time acquiring unusual and significant automobiles for its hallowed halls. Anton “Tony” Hulman, then owner of the Speedway, agreed to purchase the car, with the acquisition facilitated by Mr. Obayda and shipment of the car made from Beirut via Baltimore. It arrived safely stateside in February 1967, with paperwork noting its finishes as black with red upholstery. For 55 years the Mercedes-Benz remained on occasional exhibition at the famed “Brickyard,” making frequent appearances at shows held at the Speedway and sometimes venturing onto the track for parade laps during special events. During its time in Indianapolis, it was selectively refinished as needed, with a new leather interior installed in 2007.

As the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum refocused its collection on competition vehicles in the early 21st Century, the 770 K was viewed as no longer fitting its purpose. In early 2022 it was acquired by the present owner, in whose diverse collection it has held pride of place as one of the greatest treasures while being kept very much as it was purchased from Indianapolis. Its restoration has mellowed over the years, but the paint remains in good overall condition as does the beautiful interior woodwork, although some of the small accessories are missing. The 770 K retains its numbers-matching engine, including both tag and stamping, and remains very much the car delivered to King Faisal I, including its license plates in Arabic. At the time of cataloguing it had recorded just over 900 miles, likely since its 1958 renovation. Accompanying is a history file including much correspondence between its seller and the IMS Museum, as well as numerous photographs and other documentation.

The Iraq 770 K’s decades in the United States have made it one of the very best-known examples of this historical model, as well as one with some of the most well-documented and unblemished history. It is a wonderful specimen of a car engineered and built to be fit for a King…and indeed it was, three times over.