West Coast Classics are proud to present an absolutely stunning and exceptional example of this unique and rare 1 of 1 full-scale built 1936 Mercedes 540K Special Roadster Replica in 'Silver' exterior paint with 'Red' leather interior and a black soft top with only some 821 miles on the build!
A well known and well reported labor of love in the Mercedes enthusiast community, and in the press, and a car eventually built over a 10 year period by a true enthusiast and a project well over 20 years in the making by a former aircraft mechanic and well known builder and restorer of rods and customs for over 50 years. It should be noted that this is no ordinary replica, car enthusiasts can buy kit parts and plans to build a replica of most vintage classic cars and that's why there is a plethora of such replicas available. This gentleman's endeavor was significantly more painstaking with nothing in common with any kit car available on the market today. This is a one off labor of love to build not just a replica, but an exact replica, of the antique and legendary German car from scratch with a combination of both original parts and equipment, and new parts and equipment, but with all the dimensions, colors, specs etc built to match the original car. And so with templates from the original car it was built to an exact original scale and style all the way down to the ash tray in the dashboard! A couple of other 540K kit cars have been built on a smaller scale but none to date have been built to full scale using many original parts and from templates from the original like this example.
You will never find another such custom example with everything from the modern and dependable Mercedes-Benz V8 fuel injected engine, automatic transmission, 4 wheel power disc brakes, rack & pinion steering, mother-of-pearl dashboard to the red leather interior and rumble seat and rear mounted spare wheel, based on the full scale specifications of the original cars. A modern Mercedes 4.5L V8 engine matched to power brakes and power windows assure a thoroughly modern drive.
When finished, after over 10 years building it and over 20 years planning it, the car was sold to a California collector and enthusiast who had to own the car in 2010, a gentleman who was extremely knowledgable and familiar with the marque having previously owned one of the original 26 540K Special Roadsters, with an offer too good to refuse after the seller was asked to name his price. The car is also therefore now California legal with a CA title as a 2011 Special Construction vehicle and fully insurable.
List of original parts used with all moldings being cast in bronze and chrome plated;
Original Headlights Bumpers & Chrome Moldings Original Grille Original Windshield Stand & Posts Ivory Steering Wheel Ivory Knobs Door Hinges & Handles Radiator Mascot Headlight Bar Front Fender Parking Lights 'Mother-in-Law' Rumble Seat Outside Grab Handles Convertible Top Grab Handles Inside Door Grab Handles Inside Door Map Box Handles Gas Filler Cap Splash Pan to Front Fender Moldings
The following moldings were fabricated with exact dimensions taken from car in the 'Harrah's Automobile Collection' from the National Automobile Museum in Reno, NV in 1973;
4 Pieces on each side of the car hood side cowl door & rear side of body Front Fender Spears Rear Fender Spears 6 Pieces running down the rear of the car from the convertible top to the bottom of the body
The car has a rebuilt 1979 Mercedes 4.5L V8 fuel injected engine and transmission Custom Chassis Duplicate of the original car Front End Assembly T.C.I. Mustang II Kit 1973 Corvette Posi Rear End Lipstick Red Leather interior Black M/B Carpet Black M/B Canvas Top Power Windows Master Brake Cylinder from Corvette Fuel Tank from M/B 450SL The fiberglass body (apart from the hood) and bronze parts were pulled from custom made exact full scale replica wooden molds The old fashioned door handles also function as electric window switches The grille shell and bumpers were reproduced from originals. The exhaust covers are exact reproductions. The hood side grilles are the closest to the originals anywhere. The instrument cluster is mother-of-pearl with Classic Instruments sized & aligned as original with original Mercedes Benz switches. The running board strips with white rubber inserts are exact reproductions. The 'Vintique' chrome wheels are 16" spoked similar to the originals with radial blackwall tires and Mercedes Star hubcaps. The paint is Mercedes 'Glasurit #55' - Silver Clearcoat & Sealed M/B 1952-72.
Dating back to an era when style was as important as function, and there was no such thing as 'over-engineered' the Mercedes 540K was likely the pinnacle of pre-war European automotive engineering. Built in coupe, cabriolet, Special Roadster and armored limousine models, the Special Roadster was always the most desirable of cars and they are known to to achieve north of $10M at auction today with the most recent 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster selling for $11,770,000 at Gooding & Co in Monterey in August 2012.
A streamlined 1930's follow up to the massive, Ferdinand Porsche designed, (the Mercedes chief engineer until 1928 when he was replaced by Hans Nibel) S/SS/SSK of the late 1920's, which had made the Mercedes marque synonymous with supercharging in the late 1920's, was the 1933 380K supercharged straight 8 with clutch in blower and all independent suspension as before. Daimler Benz's Sindelfingen works supplied the impressive bodies and top speed was 90mph for the 380K and up to 105mph for the 1936 540K. This would prove to be Daimler Benz's ultimate creation in this period apart from the Grossers and priced accordingly, hence the low production. Styling was especially beautiful on the fully streamlined 500/540 Special Roadster which now has the distinction of being amongst the most expensive of all collector cars anywhere in the world.
The first in the line was the 380 in 1933, which although blown like its big brothers was felt to still be underpowered, then in 1934 was born the 500K (K for 'Kompressor' or 'Supercharger'). The 500K was built to be magnificent. Its 5.0L engine was moved 7" back in the chassis to allow the radiator grille to be set right back in the axle line. The folding bonnet was impossibly long with sweeping front fenders and front opening suicide doors and there were many body styles, all breathtaking. In 1936 came the ultimate incarnation, the 540K with 180HP, which became renowned for its fearsome scream when the supercharger was engaged. Unusually for exclusive cars of the time, nearly all the K cars were bodied at the factory instead of having independently coach built bodies, as had been the custom until this time. The four-seater cabriolet B and two-seater Cabriolet A are highly prized but it is the Special Roadster which is the supreme embodiment to this day. It has more curves and chrome than almost any car in history, the epitome of 'erotic' aesthetics in car design.
The cars were purchased by only the world's richest men - an Indian Maharajah infamously used his to hunt tigers. Unfortunately they also became renown as the prized cars of the Nazi high command with an infamous order of 20 armored versions of the 540K for Third Reich officers. The styling of the 540K may be overblown and even verge on caricature but the Special Roadster is today one of the most expensive cars in the world for good reason due to its unique styling and seven decades later its image is still helping sell Mercedes-Benz internationally.
The straight 8 cylinder engine of the 500K was enlarged in displacement to 5,401 cubic cm (329.6 cu in) and was fed by twin pressurized updraft carbs developing 115 hp (86 kW). In addition, there was an attached 'Roots' supercharger which could either be engaged manually for short periods, or automatically when the accelerator was pushed fully to the floor. This increased power to 180 hp enabling a top speed of 110 mph. Power was sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed or optional five speed manual gearbox that featured synchromesh on the top three gears. Vacuum-assisted hydraulic brakes kept the car under the driver's control.
The 540K had the same chassis layout as the 500K, but was significantly lightened by replacing the girder-like frame of the 500K with oval-section tubes - an influence of the Silver Arrows racing campaign. Chassis production ceased in 1940, with the final 2 being completed that year, and earlier chassis were still being bodied at a steady rate during 1940, with smaller numbers being completed in the 19411943 period. Regular replacement bodies were ordered in 1944 for a few cars.
Combined production of the 500K was 342 cars and 419 cars for the 540K and when the 540K Special Roadster was unveiled in 1936 it served as Mercedes-Benz's halo car, available only through special order with only 26 models built - being so exclusive they sold for $12,000 (about $187,000 today) when new. An astronomical amount following the great depression.
Although, as you might expect from a prewar German car, not all of them made it through the war, with the Allies bombing the Mercedes factories and with and the aftermath destruction of Germany through 1945, only three are reportedly known to exist today. One of these, formerly owned by Bernie Ecclestone of Formula 1 fame sold for $8.2M in 2007. It had been bought by an Englishman in 1937, who had hid it in his garage all through the war, reportedly too embarrassed to be seen driving a German car, particularly one so flamboyant. It was to prove the most ever paid for Mercedes at the time, or indeed any German car, as it represented the absolute height of the brand at the forefront of both engineering and luxury. Then another 1936 540K Special Roadster sold for $11.7M at 'Gooding & Company's' Monterey, CA auction in 2012.
With all that was lost in WWII, the 540K is pretty far down on the list of tragedies but it is still unfortunate that the era of such elegant prewar cars came to an end. They wouldn't have lasted much longer anyway, but cars like the 540K remain as a reminder of just how beautiful a car can be when form is put before function. No car will ever again be as pure a work of art as it was in the days before airbags, passive pedestrian protection and 5mph bumpers.
This particular model must be seen to be believed and driven to be fully appreciated - the car drives and looks as good as new - the engine is extremely strong and responsive, the transmission shifts smoothly through the gears and the temperature always remains cool. This is a drop dead gorgeous car that one could not possibly replicate again without spending a small fortune, 20 years in the making, built to perfect scale of the original and most certainly your only chance of ever owning one. We recently had the car serviced and inspected prior to sale at our local mechanics and the car is turn key ready to enjoy today with only some 821 miles on the original build which was completed in 2010.
You will look long and hard to find and still not find another full scale example anywhere of this stunning 1 of 1 replica with only some 800+ miles on the build and at fraction of the cost paid by it's previous owner for the ultimate in daily driving fun and ragtop classic pre-war car cruising!