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PreWar Mercedes Benz


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#1 alsancle

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:16 PM

We have been posting some MB stuff in other threads and there really should be an appropriate landing spot for some of these pictures and thoughts. Btw, one of the only English speaking websites that I know of where you could find information on prewar Mercedes Benz is the 170-220 forum. There is some great stuff on that site but their focus tends to be around the smaller engined cars so in this thread I would like to concentrate more on the full classic chassis, 290, 320, 380, 500, 540, etc.

I've been lucky enough to see and touch many great Classics but the materials, fit & finish on the 1930s Mercedes was one of the best. Also, MB was a leader in technical advances including 4 wheel independent suspension in the 1933 380. The driver activated supercharger on the K,S,SS,380,500k, 540k and 770k to my knowledge is very unique. Only Stutz had tried a similar system in 1929.

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#2 Dave Mitchell

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:21 PM

I will add that I think Herman Ahrens of DB was one of the greatest auto designers of all time. His clean lines and excellent proportions on both the big and small cars are fabulous. The special roadsters and special coupes are incredible cars, as well as normal roadsters and the cabriolets. The lines are great even on the big 770s and the sedans.

#3 alsancle

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:23 PM

The picture in my first post is a 1936 Model 500k factory Sindelfingen Cabriolet "C" body. As a late 500k, one of the last 9 cars it has a number of subtle 540k features including the bumpers and hood screens. It was originally delivered to NY where it was sold by Mytropia Motors to the son of a Oil Company owner.

Mercedes Benz nomenclature for catalog bodies worked something like this.

1. Cabriolet "A" - 2 seat 2 door conv
2. Cabriolet "B" - 4/5 seat 2 door open rear quarter conv
3. Cabriolet "C" - 4/5 seat 2 door closed rear quarter (victoria) conv
4. Cabriolet "D" - 5/6 seat 4 door conv

#4 Dave Mitchell

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:27 PM

Rudi Caracciola's 500K special coupe, one of my favorite cars.

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  • MB 500K special coupe.JPG


#5 Dave Mitchell

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:31 PM

The Cab C looks great. I like the Cab Cs and you seldom see them.

#6 alsancle

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:32 PM

This is a picture of a 1937 540k Cabriolet "C". This is a right hand car that was original one of 2 that was delivered to England. It spent some time in Japan before coming back to the U.S. and being restored again. You can see a video of it running here.

There were two versions of the 540k Cabriolet "C", this being the first with the slopping trunk (or boot) area. The second version has a more rounded trunk. The major differeces between this and the 500k pictured before are the rear hinged doors, and the shape of the fenders and trunk. The interiors are identical. I have the measurements for this car and I need to compare them with the 500k to see the differences. The 540k is supposed to be wider and longer but I would like to confirm that.

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  • 540kCabC.jpg


#7 alsancle

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:39 PM

The Cab C looks great. I like the Cab Cs and you seldom see them.


The Cab "B" was produced in the greatest number for both 500k & 540k. There were very few 540k Cabriolet "C" bodies built, I want to say about about 20 but I should look that up.

It's probably a good time to mention the definitive reference on the 500k/540k/770 cars is the two volumes by Jan Melin that are fantastic.

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#8 alsancle

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:44 PM

I will add that I think Herman Ahrens of DB was one of the greatest auto designers of all time. His clean lines and excellent proportions on both the big and small cars are fabulous. The special roadsters and special coupes are incredible cars, as well as normal roadsters and the cabriolets. The lines are great even on the big 770s and the sedans.


+1 on that Dave. The proportions he achieved were fantastic. The second generation 500k & first generation 540k Special Roadsters have to be one of the great styling achievements in automotive history.

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Edited by alsancle, 07 February 2011 - 07:47 PM.


#9 Dave Mitchell

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 07:51 PM

The way he made the fenders flow into the running boards and continue into the rear fenders is flawless. The rear treatments of both the roadsters and coupes are wonderful too. The rear of the Caracciola car is terrific.

#10 alsancle

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:15 PM

I posted a bunch of pictures of red Mercedes Benz in the "Ugly Classics" thread to illusstrate how everyone in the 1980s (including my dad) painted their MB red. I'm not saying all these cars are ugly, in fact some would look pretty good without the whitewalls. I'll go through each and try to identify them. All these pictures were taken at the Arizona auctions in the 1980s.

This is a 540k Cabriolet "B". Like the Cab "C" there was a early style with a sloping trunk and a later style with a rounded trunk.

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#11 alsancle

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:25 PM

1. The first picture is a first series 540k Cabriolet "C".
2. The second picture is my mom standing with Richie Clyne in front of the an English (Mayfair) bodied roadster. I assume Imperial Palace must have owned the car and was selling it.
3. This picture was taken in a private museum with a very uniquely bodied 500k Cabriolet "A". Most 500k Carbiolet "A" bodies had double rear spares. The car is pictured in Volume II by Jay Melin.

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#12 alsancle

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:29 PM

1. This is a 500k "Normal" i.e. Not "Special" roadster.

2. This is a 320n Cabriolet "A". The "n" in the designation indicated the short chassis. The 320 looked very similar to the 540k but utilized a 6 cylinder engine coupled to a 4 speed gear box. In 38 an overdrive was added.

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#13 Silverghost

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 08:48 PM

I remember Don Williams & Richie selling several of these fantastic Classic "K" s at his first Hershey auction just after sept 11 2001 !
Because of the 9/11 terriorist crisis these cars sold very cheapy~~~
That auction sadly turned into a sort of unintended fire sale for both Don and Richie . I felt sorry for them as prices were very soft ! The buyers just did not want to spend money that day just after 9/11 ; and attendance was also very thin .
As I remember at least 2 of the "K" s sold were painted 1980s red also !
Does anyone know what these "K" s sold for that day and where they are today ?
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#14 alsancle

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Posted 07 February 2011 - 09:53 PM

I remember Don Williams & Richie selling several of these fantastic Classic "K" s at his first Hershey auction just after sept 11 2001 !
Because of the 9/11 terriorist crisis these cars sold very cheapy~~~
That auction sadly turned into a sort of unintended fire sale for both Don and Richie . I felt sorry for them as prices were very soft ! The buyers just did not want to spend money that day just after 9/11 ; and attendance was also very thin .
As I remember at least 2 of the "K" s sold were painted 1980s red also !
Does anyone know what these "K" s sold for that day and where they are today ?


There was 1 500k and 2 540k cars sold. The 500k was a Cabriolet C pictured below (after restoration). One 540k was the Offord bodied Conv Coupe (right hand drive) which I will find pictures of. The other was a very early 540k Cabriolet B as it had the 500k body. As an aside, I met the guy that bought the Auburn Speedster at that auction and like a few other guys attending not planning on buying anything until he saw how things were selling.

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#15 alsancle

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 01:19 AM

All the 500k and 540k bodies had the same mother of perl dash. The precursor 380 had the same instruments but arranged slightly different. A few of the non Sindelfingen (factory) built bodied cars had custom dashes. The interiors on the Sindelfingen built bodies were mostly similar to this. Leather interior with buckets in the front. They adjust forward and back, as well as the angle of the seat.

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#16 alsancle

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 01:25 AM

Here are some pictures of the second series 540k Cabriolet A. There were roughly 80 total Cab A of both types made over 4 years. Sometimes this series is referred to as "short tail" and the first series with the rear mounted spares is called the "long tail".

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Edited by alsancle, 25 May 2013 - 11:09 PM.
corrected mistake


#17 alsancle

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 01:29 AM

Here are some pictures of the first series 540k Carbriolet "A". My favorite of all the factory bodies. There were roughly 30 of these made in 1936 - 37 before the second series production began.

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#18 edinmass

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 03:07 AM

Here is a nice project car...... it may be restored by now......

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#19 alsancle

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 04:09 AM

Hi Ed,

Yes, this car has been restored. I believe it was exported out of India within the last 10 or 15 years. I will see if I can find some recent pictures of it.

A.J.

#20 Dave Mitchell

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Posted 08 February 2011 - 08:03 AM

A 770 limo at the Gooding auction 2010

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