1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet A Coachwork by Sindelfingen

The Mercedes-Benz 540K was arguably the pinnacle of pre-war achievements by the Stuttgart firm. It shared an independently suspended chassis with the preceding 500K; power came from a 5.4-liter supercharged straight-eight engine. With a top speed of nearly 110 mph, Sindelfingen (a Mercedes-Benz in-house coach building subsidiary) coachworks were equally impressive and luxurious.

Mercedes-Benz produced 97 examples of the 540K in 136, 145 in 1937, 95 in 1938 and 69 in 1939 before the war ended series production (though three more were built up to July 1942). When new, numerous examples were delivered to the United Kingdom, including this car. It was Order Commission in this car for Mr. Embiricos.

Andre M. Embiricos was a shipping and banking magnate and contested LeMans no fewer than 3 times in the post war era. Embiricos is also remembered for a unique Bentley Aerodynamic Coupe designed by Georges Paulin and built by Pourtout.

Andre had a cousin, Nicholas, who also carved a path in the automotive spectrum by racing both a Bugatti Type 53 and an ERA. It is not confirmed, but seems more likely that it was Nicholas Embiricos who owned the Mercedes as he was a resident in England in the late 1930s. Within a few short years after emigrating to America in 1941 he sadly met his demise in an air accident in Rhode Island.

This two seater cabriolet is more aerodynamic and low slung that its predecessor. The radiator is set a full 6 inches behind the centre line of the front wheels, has a super low windshield and top, with a single extra wheel placed on the swept back tail.

By 1940 the car had passed through Mercedes-Benz of Great Britain to S. Pettit of Pulborough in the Sussex county in the UK and then to a Haulage contractor in 1944. At the time it was listed as being in 'almost new' condition. It was finished in white with pigskin upholstery and had a patent leather roof.

By the 1980s the car had migrated to America and soon acquired by Don Williams of the Blackhawk Collection. While in his care, the car was given a sympathetic and exacting restoration of the bodywork brought it to the jet black scheme it wears today. The interior was refurbished in a parchment hide, and remains complete and correct with its luggage stowed behind the two seats. The odometer shows just a single digit, meaning it has seen little use since the restoration was completed.

Descriptions and pictures by MERCEDES-BENZ & conceptcarz & bonhams

Production Start 1937
Country of origin Germany