<< Back to Robb Report, December 2012

Robb Design Portfolio: Ultimate One-Upmanship

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster
With their swooping fenders, mile-long bonnets, and opulent grilles, Mercedes-Benz roadsters from the 1930s epitomized the grandeur that persisted during the Depression. The long-tailed 540K Special Roadster was the marque’s flagship, commanding supreme respect on Continental roads and a high price at dealerships; it cost $14,000 (about $225,000 in today’s dollars) in the United States—or roughly 40 percent more than the priciest catalog-body Cadillac V-16.

The 540K was majestic, expensive, and advanced. Most cars at the time rode on primitive suspensions, but the 540K had a system that was fully independent. The 2-ton, two-seat roadster could cruise comfortably at 85 mph all day, powered by a supercharged 5.4-liter straight-eight engine that developed 180 hp and took the behemoth to a terminal velocity approaching 110 mph. Mercedes-Benz built only 26 examples of the Special Roadster.

This article was originally published in the December 2012 issue of Robb Report. Click here to read more articles from this issue.

Read Next Article >>
Photo by Christian Martin
Among the lots are 60 historic barn-find cars from the Baillon Collection…
C-Types, D-Types, and E-Types from the 1940s, ’50s, and ’60s are among the program’s cars…
Photo by Snarski
The GT is a more powerful version of the original Panoz Esperante Spyder…
The new coupe takes many styling cues from the 1954 A6 GCS-53…
These five two-wheel wonders feature aggressive designs and heart-palpitating performance…
The new Mustang features Ford’s most powerful naturally aspirated engine ever…
Photo by Cordero Studios, corderostudios.com
Although the complete results of Robb Report’s annual Car of the Year competition will not be...
This year’s L.A. Auto Show saw more models introduced than at any other time in its 107-year...
The lots include Carroll Shelby’s personal Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake, which previously fetched $...
The new concept suggests that Bentley is gunning for the Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead Coupé…