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PreWar Mercedes Benz


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500K

Is this the one that sold at the Rolf Meyer auction in 2003? It was a bargain at the time - 700k I believe. Perhaps the right hand drive held it back. I like the leather boot also. Although, if you see one done in the top of the line German cloth with the correct padding it looks as nice.

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Is this the one that sold at the Rolf Meyer auction in 2003? It was a bargain at the time - 700k I believe. Perhaps the right hand drive held it back. I like the leather boot also. Although, if you see one done in the top of the line German cloth with the correct padding it looks as nice.

Not sure, but it is in Europe now I think. These are photos a friend sent from the Lake Como concours.

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Here is a 540K second series Cab A that is for sale in the U.S.A. Brought over from France in the 1950s and restored in the 1970s. Note the rare factory radio. They seem to have put a small seat in the back. I think it is supposed to be a small single seat facing sideways or luggage.

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Edited by alsancle (see edit history)
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OK, I'll ask the question most poeple are thinking. What is the device between the headlamps on that car? Usually there is a small driving light in that location.

Maybe Dave knows what it is. I do know this particular car has a number of unique features. The glass is bullet proof and you can see how it makes the front windshield unique (and not as attractive).

Between the seats is a manual pump mechanism that was originally found on an aircraft. Those of you familar with these cars know that the fuel system is overly complex and prone to being a pain in the *ss. These days they almost all have electric pumps mounted. Goring had the manual pump installed to start the car in cold weather.

This car has not been restored and belongs to a very well known collector in Maine.

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In this case it is a "blackout" driving lamp, to be used in place of the headlights. The car was worked on by Chris Charlton, and was in Maine for some time, but as far as I know is still owned by a Swede.

My mistake. Chris is the person who explained the funky fuel pump between the seats to me. I was under the impression that the car was owned by Chris's former employer.

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My mistake. Chris is the person who explained the funky fuel pump between the seats to me. I was under the impression that the car was owned by Chris's former employer.

I think most people thought that, especially since the owner is very low key. The car certainly suffers a bit stylistically from the bulletproof treatment, but is certainly important historically. An old friend of mine had newspaper clippings featuring the car when it was exhibited around the country even making it to the area of western Illinois where I live on a post war bond sales tour just after the war. I find the color interesting also.

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Here's an odd combination. A German car with an English body. Thrupp & Maberly coachwork.

Jason, there were actually a surprising number of English bodies put on Mercedes chassis in the late 20s and 30s. In most cases the English bodies did not seem to fit quite as well as the Sindelfingen ones but some were quite stylish. The one you posted looks very nice indeed.

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Here is a 540K second series Cab A that is for sale in the U.S.A. Brought over from France in the 1950s and restored in the 1970s. Note the rare factory radio. They seem to have put a small seat in the back. I think it is supposed to be a small single seat facing sideways or luggage.

I dont think there were actually two series built of the Cab A. There are very early 1936 540Ks that have the body style with the spare wheels set in the fenders as well as late ones of 39 already with the 5 speed gearbox that have that same body also. You could always order them with the spare wheels in the back also. It wasn t until 1939-40 when the design changed a lot and those last Cab As looked similar in style to the one-off Krupp Special Roadster.

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BTW, does anyone know what happened to that unique "long-tail" Special Roadster in that picture a couple posts earlier, with the spare wheels in the front wings? It's been said it was delivered to India when new I think. I've always only known that period factory pic of the car, so I guess it hasn't survived but I was wondering if anyone has some history on that one.

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I dont think there were actually two series built of the Cab A. There are very early 1936 540Ks that have the body style with the spare wheels set in the fenders as well as late ones of 39 already with the 5 speed gearbox that have that same body also. You could always order them with the spare wheels in the back also. It wasn t until 1939-40 when the design changed a lot and those last Cab As looked similar in style to the one-off Krupp Special Roadster.

I'm not sure where I picked up the first series vs. second series nomenclature from. A quick look at Jan Melin and I see he is using the term early vs. late. However, The first 30 or so 540K Cab "A" were significantly different then the next 50. There were only a couple of the very late short chassis cars built so those are in a class of their own.

The early cars had 2 significant differences vs. the late:

1. Setback chassis arrangement with radiator, engine, etc pushed 5 inches back in the chassis (similar to Special Roadsters & 500k Cab A)

2. Rear Mounted Spares

Additionally, the rear section of the body well as the fenders (mudguards) are very different. To my knowledge there was never a late Cab A with rear mounted spares. I know of a single car, perhaps two that had a single spare hidden in the trunk with none in the fenders.

The 5 speed transmission found it's way into a handful of chassis in 1939. I've seen a Cab A, as well as a couple of Cab B's with this transmission. I think all the short chassis cars at the end got that transmission also.

Finally, at last check, there is about a 25% or more premium paid for the early cars.

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BTW, does anyone know what happened to that unique "long-tail" Special Roadster in that picture a couple posts earlier, with the spare wheels in the front wings? It's been said it was delivered to India when new I think. I've always only known that period factory pic of the car, so I guess it hasn't survived but I was wondering if anyone has some history on that one.

The only pictures I have ever seen of this car are the factory photos. They can also be found in volume I of Melin. Does the license plate indicate India? The right hand drive would.

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Edited by alsancle (see edit history)
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Don't have the Melin books here with me to check, but I do know that the Cab A body style as seen on the right of your pics was available from 1936-39, so there were no two series, but rather both designs were offered at the same time for a while. I think you are right there are no known Cab As with the spare wheels in the back after 1938 or so though, so it seems that design was no longer offered at some point.

As for the 5 speed gearbox, it must have been introduced some time in 1938. I know of a couple of Cad As and Bs as well as at least two third series Special Roadsters that have it (the King of Romania car that was found a couple years back is one of them).

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The only pictures I have ever seen of this car are the factory photos. They can also be found in volume I of Melin. Does the license plate indicate India? The right hand drive would.

Not sure where I got the India reference from. Unfortunately not much seems to be known about the whereabouts of this car. Does Melin give a s/n for it?

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Not sure where I got the India reference from. Unfortunately not much seems to be known about the whereabouts of this car. Does Melin give a s/n for it?

No. Melin gives no serial number. I believe he states in one of the volumes that he won't reveal s/n for any prewar car to prevent shenanigans. When I get to the office tomorrow I will see if he is says anything about this particular car. Perhaps it is still hiding.

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I'll concede I probably made up the first series vs second series nomenclature as I can't remember where it came from. However, I don't know that I've ever seen a sidemount spare Cab A listed as a 36. I have seen a few as 37. Conversely, I've mostly seen the rear-spare Cab A listed as 36 and a few as 37. I've always assumed that MB transitioned from one style to the other, much the same way they did with the 3 distinct special roadster styles. I can't say that I know that for a fact, however.

Back about 5 or 6 years ago there was a 39 Cab B with the 5 speed for sale here in the U.S. I never got a chance to go see it and it went off to Germany. I don't know if there were ever any published road tests of the 5 speed cars as they were introduced so late. It would be interesting comparing the drive-ability and performance with the 4 speed.

Don't have the Melin books here with me to check, but I do know that the Cab A body style as seen on the right of your pics was available from 1936-39, so there were no two series, but rather both designs were offered at the same time for a while. I think you are right there are no known Cab As with the spare wheels in the back after 1938 or so though, so it seems that design was no longer offered at some point.

As for the 5 speed gearbox, it must have been introduced some time in 1938. I know of a couple of Cad As and Bs as well as at least two third series Special Roadsters that have it (the King of Romania car that was found a couple years back is one of them).

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The only pictures I have ever seen of this car are the factory photos. They can also be found in volume I of Melin. Does the license plate indicate India? The right hand drive would.

Looks more like a convertible with roll up side windows.

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Looks more like a convertible with roll up side windows.

Although MB called them "roadsters" they all had roll up windows. There are only a very few sindelfingen bodies that did not have roll up windows. It got cold in the alps!

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No. Melin gives no serial number. I believe he states in one of the volumes that he won't reveal s/n for any prewar car to prevent shenanigans. When I get to the office tomorrow I will see if he is says anything about this particular car. Perhaps it is still hiding.

The car is pictured on page 80 of Volume I. Melin says "540K Spezial Roadster in 1937. A rare car. There are additional fuel tanks mounted on the running-boards. The spare tyres have metal covers Special trunk grids made it possible to load a lot of luggage."

Edited by alsancle (see edit history)
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Don't have the Melin books here with me to check, but I do know that the Cab A body style as seen on the right of your pics was available from 1936-39, so there were no two series, but rather both designs were offered at the same time for a while. I think you are right there are no known Cab As with the spare wheels in the back after 1938 or so though, so it seems that design was no longer offered at some point.

On page 191 in the caption for a picture of a side mount spare Cab "A" he calls it a "Cabriolet A - second version". :)

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One of my all time favorite cars. A 540k Roadster with coachwork by Erdmann & Rossi. Car was the subject of a feature in Automobile Quarterly in the late 60s when it was owned in New England. I remember as a kid reading this article and loving the car. Reportedly back in Germany. This picture was taken at Hershey in 1962

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Quote : Here are some pictures of the first version of 500k Special Roadster. These pictures were found in a trash bin and posted on the Hamb. They were taken before WWII.

This early special roadster is just phenominal. If you look at each "version" of the special roadster and put it in context with other cars of the same years, they are all incredible. You look at this one and think - fantastic! - they you look at the next version and think the same thing - and so on... Is one better than the other? They are all awesome in their own way. Is this the car that Bob Friggens owned which is now in Europe?

I really like the photo taken from above.

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I agree with everything you said Dave.

Yes, I believe it is Bob Friggen's car while it was owned by Bob Day of California. It was also on the cover of Road and Track in the 1951. I knew he sold his Duesenberg but did not realize the 500k was gone. He new Bob Day when he was a kid and was eventually able to buy the car from him. The new owner would be the 4th owner of the car since 1935.

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So it was one of the very few cars that came to the US prior to 1945. Couldn't have been more than a handful.

You are right - there were very few. Mytropia Motors of NY (the sole American MB dealer) sold approx 30 total cars between 1936 and the start of WWII. I do not know how many were sold prior to 1936 or were brought over by their owners. Also, 500k Special Roadsters were even more scarce then 540k ones. According to Melin, total 500k roadster production, special & Normale was 29 which is close to 540k Special only.

Given that Bob Day lived in Bel Air California and bought the car in 1937 I would say they are the same car.

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