1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster Heads To Barrett-Jackson’s Auction

Giancarlo Perlas January 12, 2024

Barrett-Jackson just unveiled an exquisite collection for its upcoming event in Scottsdale this January. One of the stars of the show is the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, which is gearing up to enthrall casual car fans and collectors not only with its exotic look but also with its rich history.

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster

The 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster on Lot #1371.1 features a bespoke body by the renowned Mayfair Carriage Co. A testament to the innovation and superior craftsmanship of its time are the aesthetic charms of its folding windshield, intricate louver detailing, and gracefully skirted rear fenders.

The lighter coachwork of this one-off 1937 Mercedes-Benz variant heightens its performance attributes, especially with the activation of the blower. Its unique set-back radiator, typically seen on factory roadsters, heightened the allure of the design, giving it that longer and lower profile that left onlookers mesmerized.

An Unconventional Journey Enshrouded in Mystery

The Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster comes with an intriguing past, rooted in its arrival in Paris on October 7, 1936, as indicated by the German luxury vehicle brand’s historical records. Its right-hand-drive chassis made it an atypical sight in a city more accustomed to left-hand drive counterparts. The unusual destination, coupled with the eventual English bodywork, adds an air of intrigue and timelessness, rendering this particular vehicle an exotic automotive masterpiece.

Author Michael Frostick, in his book “The Mighty Mercedes,” acknowledged the presence of this exquisite model — a testament to its noteworthy lineage. Speculations about the origins of this car place it possibly in the hands of a British expatriate living in Paris or in service of an Indian Maharajah, lending further ambiguity and intrigue to its story.

A Storied Journey through Prestigious Hands

This automotive gem of yesteryears lived in London during the 1950s. It got its first North American owner in the form of Peter Hessler of Quebec City, Canada. A series of transfers saw the car with Toronto-based car enthusiast Paul Suckling, then Detroit collector Richard C. Mertz in 1968. In Richard and his son Steve Mertz’s care, the 540K underwent restoration, with Alcraft, a Detroit-based prototype shop, taking care of the intricate panel work.

Though Richard Mertz’s death in 1984 halted the meticulous restoration process midway, the baton passed on to his son Steve who took up the mission to restore this automotive classic to its former glory.

A Cherished Masterpiece Transforms

Under Steve Mertz’s ownership, the formerly black-over-silver Mercedes-Benz received a vibrant red finish over the course of its restoration, denoting the car’s exciting new lease of life. In 1994, this 540K became part of the esteemed collection of Casino mogul, Ralph Englestad, where it received an upgraded refresh aimed at concours condition.

After Englestad’s passing in 2002, the Mayfair 540K found itself in a Southern Californian collection, where it continues to be displayed alongside other prestigious examples of the marque. This exceedingly rare 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K, with its unique origin and rich past, undeniably remains a shining star in the universe of automotive icons.

This extraordinary account of the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Roadster, a true beacon of automotive artistry presents a spellbinding chronicle of legacy, elegance, and precision that amply resonates with the very essence of Mercedes-Benz’s enduring brand philosophy.

The Enduring Legacy of an Automotive Icon

Even today, the reverberations of this roadster’s tale echo in the world of car enthusiasts and collectors, recounting a saga of elegance, craftsmanship, and an astonishingly captivating past. The 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K continues to serve as a testament to the enduring allure of the Mercedes-Benz brand with its continuous push for innovation, refinement, and unparalleled luxury.

From the auction block, through prestigious collections, to ultimately gracing contemporary exhibits, the journey of the 1937 Mayfair Bodied Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster is nothing short of extraordinary, reflective of the indomitable spirit of the three-pointed star marque.

About Author

Giancarlo Perlas

Giancarlo Perlas is an economist by profession with a career spanning nearly two decades. His professional journey has seen him assume vital roles in various government and private organizations, particularly in the blockchain and cryptocurrency sectors. Alongside his civic and corporate pursuits is his love for cars, particularly those made by Mercedes-Benz. In 2012, he found himself with like-minded individuals within BenzInsider. From then on, he used the platform as a way to share his passion with the automotive community. Follow his Facebook page at, X (formerly Twitter) @giancarloperlas, and IG @benzinsider. View all posts by Giancarlo Perlas →

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