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PreWar Mercedes Benz


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Interesting article. Do any of you gents know if the MB at West Point (as stated in the article) can be seen by the public? Been there a couple times for athletic events and had no idea it was there.

The only reference I found with a quick search online is that West Point has one of Hitler's 770's, though another source suggested it might have been Goering's. I glanced through a museum directory but did not see a 540K or 500K mentioned.

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There are some familiar faces in that list. I guess we know where they all went. Most prewar MB models are rare but there are a few here that there may be only one or two of still existing. When you see that many cars listed no reserve you know they are really for sale. Hard to play games with that large a number.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Sindelfinger.

I'm still confused as to why the prewar car name plates spell it differently than written descriptions. But then, I don't know if it's all the prewar cars, or just some. Or if some postwar cars also spell it with an "r"... or both ways ... or?????

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Sindelfinger.

I'm still confused as to why the prewar car name plates spell it differently than written descriptions. But then, I don't know if it's all the prewar cars, or just some. Or if some postwar cars also spell it with an "r"... or both ways ... or?????

Sindelfingen is the name of the city, and thus the name of the location of that Daimler Benz plant. Sindelfinger is used in company names and is the name of the business: Sindelfinger Karrosserie, Sindelfinger Hof, Sindelfinger Rathaus, etc. Each spelling is correct in the proper context. So, the 540K was made at the Sindelfingen plant by Sindelfinger Karrosserie.

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I believe some investors are running up prices because they think it's safer than stock/bonds, but I was surprised that in only two years the one-off Spezial Roadster went from $4.6M to $7.5. Even if you assume he spent $500K on the restoration (and I doubt it needed that much) he made $1.4M on the car in only two years. It did not even win the Mercedes class at Pebble last year (2nd to Nethercutt Cab A, which was a robbery). Huge price increase.

I was also surprised that the reigning Pebble Beach Best of Show, MB 680 S, went for "only" $750K more than the roadster. One of only two by Saoutchik. I thought it would pull $12M given crazy prices being paid. The top of the market is clearly Ferrari, which makes me wonder how long prices are going to stay up for even the top non-race classics of the 1930's - MB, Bugatti, Talbot-Lago, Delahaye, etc. An absolutely gorgeous Duesenberg failed to sell ($1.8M high bid that I think the owner should have run to the bank with). So the best of American classics are not seeing the run up in prices that MB's are enjoying. Duesies seem to be hanging around at $750K-$1.5M, though I don't watch those prices like I do the supercharged MB's, and I may very well be wrong there. In any event, will we see another crash in collector car prices as in the 1990's?

Edited by 540K (see edit history)
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There is a new book on supercharged Mercedes coming out next year according to Amazon. It is by an author named James Taylor, and a series called "XX [name of car] In Detail." Is anyone familiar with this series of books by this author? It's hard to imagine it has much to offer beyond Jan Melin's volumes.

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Craig, the one thing to keep in mind with the 540 vs Duesenberg is that impact of the European market. Yes you will see an occasional Model J go to Europe but they actively seek Mercedes while in the U.S. we also do. It provides a bigger market. The other potential factor (which is best documented by Packard) is the ability to walk the marque ladder. A guy may start with a lower end model and become a "Mercedes" guy. As his affluence grows he walks up the ladder. With Duesenberg, there is no ladder just the top rung. The rise in the 300SL prices may be factoring in too as those cars have gone up crazily, pushing the ladder rungs higher.

That said, I agree with your observations in general.

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Slightly off topic but I would rather drive a 540k than a Model J. Not really a fair comparison as there is approx a decade of progress in engineering between them. The Duesy is like a powerful truck high up in the air. The 540k is not as powerful but much more comfortable to drive.

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Excellent points re Duesenberg. The Model A Duesie might be considered a lower rung, but there are so few, especially compared to Packard, that I agree they all seem to be very near top rung.

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I believe some investors are running up prices because they think it's safer than stock/bonds, but I was surprised that in only two years the one-off Spezial Roadster went from $4.6M to $7.5. Even if you assume he spent $500K on the restoration (and I doubt it needed that much) he made $1.4M on the car in only two years. It did not even win the Mercedes class at Pebble last year (2nd to Nethercutt Cab A, which was a robbery). Huge price increase.

I was also surprised that the reigning Pebble Beach Best of Show, MB 680 S, went for "only" $750K more than the roadster. One of only two by Saoutchik. I thought it would pull $12M given crazy prices being paid. The top of the market is clearly Ferrari, which makes me wonder how long prices are going to stay up for even the top non-race classics of the 1930's - MB, Bugatti, Talbot-Lago, Delahaye, etc. An absolutely gorgeous Duesenberg failed to sell ($1.8M high bid that I think the owner should have run to the bank with). So the best of American classics are not seeing the run up in prices that MB's are enjoying. Duesies seem to be hanging around at $750K-$1.5M, though I don't watch those prices like I do the supercharged MB's, and I may very well be wrong there. In any event, will we see another crash in collector car prices as in the 1990's?

There are more than just 2 Saoutchik bodied Type S, more like 7-8 survivors and there may have been more build. As for Ferrari prices I agree - incredible price jumps within the last years. Ten years ago a 250 California Spyder was below $ 1 MM, now even regular steel bodied examples without racing history are pushing $5-6MM plus. There are rumours of a $50 MM GTO sale.....nuts, nobody will dare to drive a car worth that much.

As for the auction prices of the 540K Roadster, well it only takes two collectors who really want that car right now to push prices up. Theres no really market price for those kind of one offs, so Im not surprised by the highly different sales prices. Prices for small series cars like the regular catalog Special Roadsters are a bit more predictable. But prices definately are going up for MB too thats for sure.

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The other thing I should have mentioned between Duesenberg and MB is the body styles have a lot to do with the pricing. Since Duesenberg was earlier, there are less of the jazzy bodied cars you tend to see in the mid to late 30s. A Model J with a Murphy Convertible Sedan body brings about the same as a 500/540k Cab B which is almost an apples to apples sort of comparison. The Murphy Convertible coupes bring around 2 million which is comparable to the Cab A. The really special bodied Model Js can bring 4 million or more. One sold for 10 which is where the Special Roadster are. I think when you compare the bodies in a sort of equivalent fashion the market seems to semi-close for each.

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Latest reference I could find. Not listed currently in the Blackhawk museum collection.

Picture19_zps206b8dfe.png

This is from Pebble Beach 2009:

pebble-beach-concours-delegance-photo-gallery-19_zps2f4e0add.jpg

A couple of more pictures here:

http://www.ultimatecarpage.com/gallery/17644/Mercedes-Benz-S-Saoutchik-Cabriolet.html

In other news, the 1928 Saoutchik Torpedo Roadster sold last week in Monterey for $8,250,000.

http://www.rmauctions.com/lots/lot.cfm?lot_id=1061167

Edited by Skip Jordan (see edit history)
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Latest reference I could find. Not listed currently in the Blackhawk museum collection.

Blackhawk probably does not display everything they have at all times, but I've been there the past three summers, and it has not been on display. Perhaps it was sold between 2008 and 2011.

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For a bucket list of western US classic car destinations, this was a pretty good trip. I flew into L.A. and back from Reno.

Tuesday - Petersen Museum and "vault" tour, L.A.

Wednesday - Mullin Museum, Oxnard (stunning; suggest advance ticketing)

Thursday - Nethercutt Museum & Nethercutt Collection (Collection requires advance reservation), Sylmar, CA (followed by the drive to Monterey)

Friday, Saturday - Legends of the Autobahn show; Retro automobilia; RM, Gooding and Bonham's auctions, Monterey

Sunday - Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance

Monday - Blackhawk Museum, Danville

Tuesday - National Auto Museum (what's left of Harrah's Collection), Reno, NV

With more time I would have included the Tour d'Elegance and Laguna Seca races, and checked out the cars at Mecum and Russo auctions. I would also have liked to have extended the trip up to Washington to see the Lemay Museum, but I'm going up there on a separate trip in a few months. I'm also lining up a trip for the mid-US for the Kemp, ACD and the Nat'l Rod and Custom Hall of Fame, plus St. John's Concours if I time it right.

For my taste, Mullin was far and away the star of all the museums, though it had the fewest cars on exhibit. Nethercutt Museum had the most cars (packed in and roped off), but the Collection tour was disappointing. Great cars, but they only let you in on a guided tour. My tour was 5 or 6 "car guys" and 150 people from a tour bus - people who couldn't tell a Model T from a Duesenberg, and teenage kids that couldn't have cared less. I'm all for exposing these folks to great cars, but we were literally herded through with very little information about individual cars, and very little time to savor the cars and take photos. Nethercutt has the money to allow the Collection to be open all day to car guys and still run their 2-a-day tours for the tour buses. At the Mullin, on the other hand, I spent the whole day at my leisure. Lots of space around the cars and no ropes. The only other real disappointment was no photos in the Petersen vault (round door Rolls, for example). The Blackhawk is too dark.

To make this on-topic, I saw pre-war Mercedes at Nethercutt, RM, Pebble Beach, Blackhawk and Harrah's. The one at Harrah's was the first one I ever saw in 1974 when the collection was still 1400 cars. At that point in my life I was more interested in the two Bugatti Royales on display, however.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Not a good day for supercharged pre-war Mercedes sales at the RM auction in London today. Reserves were too high on the first two cars. The owner of the collection turned away over $4 million on three cars.

540K Cab B - high bid $1.3M, UNSOLD. Most recent Cab B sale was $650K.

500K Cab C - high bid $1M, UNSOLD. Most recent Cab C sales were $667K, $690K and $900K.

540K Cab A - high bid $2.1M UNSOLD Recent Cab A sales have been in the $2.75 to $3M range.

However, the rare but notoriously underpowered 380K's sold:

380K Roadster sold $810,000

380K Cab A sold $700,000

All figures are estimated conversions from British Pounds.

Edited by 540K (see edit history)
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Where did you find the results.

On the RM site i cant find them.

Jan

Results will be posted later in the week. I was watching the auction online. You have to be registered for the RM website to see the live auction bidding. Once they go on to the next car, it just says "unsold." You have to be watching the bidding to see what the high bid on each lot was before it moves on to the next car. At least, that's the only way I could find it.

Maybe the collection owner had stars in his eyes from the recent Spezial Roadster sales in double-figure millions. Unfortunately, he didn't have any Spezial Roadsters to sell. I'm sure he made several million dollars on the other cars, though. Maybe that was his plan all along - use the supercharged cars and 300 SL's to bring people in, sell off the bulk of the 74-car collection and set the reserve way high on the supercharged cars to make sure he gets to keep them. Just speculating, of course. I thought the 300 SLR would bring more. Very cool car. The 300 SL roadster almost brought as much as the gullwing.

Edited by 540K (see edit history)
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The 540k Cab B must have been a post block sale as it is listed sold at 1.3 million. That was Cab A money a few years ago.

Yes, and it is odd that the post-auction sale was less than the high bid (820,000GBP vs. 850,000GBP). Perhaps the buyer was getting more than one car and was able to "bundle" them. And perhaps the auction house convinced the seller that $1.3M is almost twice the recent Cab B prices.

Most of the Mercedes has a disaponting result.

There were a lot of Mercedes, but no overwhelming star like the Sam Mann Spezial Roadster of 2011, or the von Krieger roadster of 2012. The Cab A was nice, but it was rebodied in the 1950's to give it the "Spezial" Cab A appearance of the fenders, I believe. Perhaps those factors had an impact. It was a good day to acquire various lesser MB models.

Edited by 540K (see edit history)
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I have an extra copy of Jan Melin's Mercedes-Benz 8 Cylinder Supercharged Cars of the 1930's Vol 1, an indispensible reference for these cars. It is in near mint condition except that someone carefully removed the first end page (there was no text or photo on that page; it probably had an inscription or someone's name written on it). Lowest price I could find online is $147 at Amazon for a copy in worse condition. $145 plus shipping.

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  • 2 months later...

All quiet on the pre-war MB front! '35 500K Cab A coming up for auction in Paris in February is only thing I've seen in the past two months. Anybody else see anything interesting?

I'm still looking for a set of pre-war MB wire wheels, if anyone has a lead other than Wagner in Germany.

I'm also looking for a good photo of a 500K/540K Cab B painted silver. (Something other than what's in Melin's books).

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Is Wagner making the reproductions? I really could use one more wheel to carry as a spare in the trailer.

Wagner has them, but his prices are extremely high. I have found a shop in the UK that can make me a set, but they need one "real" wheel (with the rolled edge) to use as a guide. Doesn't really matter what condition it's in. I'm trying to find one I can borrow and send them, since finding a set of vintage wheels is proving impossible so far.

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