1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A

The Mercedes-Benz 540 K, alongside its predecessor the 500 K, stood as one of the most remarkable production models of the 1930s from the Stuttgart firm. Evolving from the 500 K, it shared its independently suspended chassis and boasted a 5.4-liter supercharged straight-eight engine. Spearheaded by ex-racing driver Max Sailer, the 540 K marked one of the first models developed under Mercedes’ new chief engineer, succeeding the late Hans Nibel.

Debuting at the Paris Salon in October 1936, the 540 K showcased a Roots-type supercharger system, delivering 115bhp unsupercharged or a formidable 180bhp with the compressor engaged. With a four-speed gearbox featuring direct top gear, it achieved a top speed nearing 110mph (177km/h), complemented by servo-assisted hydraulic braking. Notably, the supercharged Mercedes was among the rare 100mph road cars of the era, prompting the retention of racing driver Goffredo ‘Freddy’ Zehender as a technical adviser and demonstration driver in the UK.

In late 1938, a revised 540 K emerged with oval-section chassis tubes and sodium-cooled valves, echoing the company’s racing triumphs. While attracting bespoke coachbuilders’ attention, Mercedes’ own Sindelfingen coachwork left little to be desired. Boasting various styles, the Cabriolet A option, exemplified by this model, epitomized elegance and performance, designed by the talented Hermann Ahrens.

With exclusive production numbers ranging from 97 in 1936 to 69 in 1939, the 540 K’s rarity, style, and performance have rendered it highly coveted among classic car enthusiasts on the rare occasions they appear on the market.

Source: Bonhams