Robb Design Portfolio: Ultimate One-Upmanship

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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.

The one-off 550 Italia prototype mates a Fiat 500 body with a Ferrari 458 Italia engine…
Limited to 50 examples, the supercar features design details found on McLaren’s 1995 Le Mans–...
The global program will feature top models from Ferrari, McLaren, Porsche, and Lamborghini…
Cadillac hopes to take on its Germans competitors with its first modern full-size flagship…
Photo by Mercedes-Benz USA
The new cars expand the marque’s C-Class offerings…
The daylong event will include exhibitions, rides, and live entertainment…
A hand-embroidered silk interior, ruby-set dials, and mother-of-pearl paint set this Phantom apart...
Photo by David Dewhurst Photography
The all-new design is aimed at the hip crowd, but loyalists may balk…
Photo by 2014 Infiniti
The QX50’s size increase promises a roomy ride for passengers…
Photo by Barry Hathaway
Robb Report takes a ride and speaks with the actor, whose passion for motorcycles fueled the fire...