A 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster was crowned Best of Show on Sunday at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The event capped off 2023 Monterey Car Week.
It’s the 10th time a Mercedes has taken home the top honors, which is a record.
The 1937 540K is one of only three Long-Tail Special Roadsters with a covered spare tire known to be in existence, and it just completed a full restoration handled by Canada’s RM Auto Restoration in close collaboration with Mercedes’ classic car department.
Thanks to Mercedes’ archives, detailed information on the vehicle was used for its restoration, right down to the specific materials used.
The car’s current owner is Jim Patterson. He purchased it at an auction during 2022 Monterey Car Week and keeps it in a collection in Louisville, Kentucky, which has two previous Best of Show winners: a 1924 Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A (2015) and a 1933 Delage D8 S de Villars Roadster (2010).
Patterson paid $9.9 million for the Mercedes, which has only changed hands five times in its seven decades.
Its original owner was Mohammed Zahir Shah, the King of Afghanistan, who ordered it in May of 1937 and received it the following September. It was ordered with a body made in Sindelfingen, Germany; the design is notable for the high side line of the doors, curved body contours with a recessed radiator, and the long tail that houses the spare wheel.
During the Second World War, the car was kept at the Afghan embassy in Paris and in 1950 it made its way to the U.K. after the Afghan king gave it to his son-in-law. It then made its way to the U.S. in 1953 after being sold to a local collector.
Production of the 540K and related 500K were handled by Mercedes at its Untertürkheim plant near Stuttgart between 1934 and 1939. A total of 760 chasses were built, with 406 of these being the 540K powered by the supercharged 5.4-liter inline-8. The engine delivers an estimated 180 hp and is mated to a 4-speed manual transmission. A total of nine body styles were offered by Mercedes, and just 60 cars were built with the roadster body.
Another 1937 540K Special Roadster went under the hammer at a Mecum auction that took place last week in Monterey. It failed to sell after reaching a top bid of $2.6 million.
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