Rare 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster Set for RM Sotheby’s Auction

1938 Mercedes Benz (motorauthority.com)

Unique history and meticulous restoration make this vehicle a centerpiece for collectors.

A standout attraction is set to grace the RM Sotheby’s auction stage next month in Phoenix, Arizona: a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster. Originating from the renowned Open-Touring Collection, this classic vehicle, bearing chassis number 408338, will be available for bidding on January 25.

Originally outfitted with a Cabriolet B body, the 1938 540K had its destiny reshaped by a subsequent owner. Motivated by the allure of the Special Roadster, of which only approximately 60 units were ever crafted, the owner commissioned a transformation after the original body deteriorated. The reimagined bodywork was masterfully executed by metalworker and coachbuilder Cass Nawrocki from Moose Lake, Minnesota. Having prior experience with a 540K Special Roadster, Nawrocki utilized his expertise, patterns, and tools, including remnants of original parts, to craft the new body over a two-year period.

Upon completion of the bodywork, Mercedes aficionado Jim Friswold of Portland, Oregon, undertook the meticulous rebuild. The restoration, spanning three years, spared no expense, ensuring the vehicle’s authenticity and elegance were preserved.

The 540K model range showcased Mercedes-Benz’s commitment to luxury and performance during its production between 1934 and 1939 at the Untertürkheim plant near Stuttgart, Germany. Out of the 760 chassis produced, the 540K, powered by a supercharged 5.4-liter inline-8 engine producing an estimated 180 hp, stands as a testament to automotive excellence. This power is elegantly harnessed through a 4-speed manual transmission.

With its rich history, rare body transformation, and impeccable restoration, this 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster is estimated to fetch between $1.75 million and $2.25 million. A similar 1937 model, in its original form, previously fetched attention but remained unsold at a top bid of $2.6 million at a Mecum auction in August.