- One of the sportiest body styles on the 500 K
- Formerly owned by early supercharged Mercedes-Benz enthusiast Carter Schaub
- Part of the current collection for 30 years; seldom shown in public
- Retains its original chassis number and body number tags
Introduced in 1934, following the short-lived 380 K, the 500 K was the second-generation supercharged eight-cylinder Mercedes-Benz and was much more powerful than its predecessor, producing some 160 brake horsepower with the blower engaged. Capable of high-speed touring while carrying comfortable coachwork, the model offered nearly unparalleled technical innovation and superb quality. A total of 342 chassis were produced into 1936.
Mercedes-Benz’s factory coachworks at Sindelfingen, the equal of any outside coachbuilder, produced numerous body styles on the 500 K, including several variations of cabriolet and roadster. The latter were, in typical Mercedes-Benz parlance, distinguished by sportier lines and, most prominently, a convertible top that lowered completely flush with the rear deck, thus providing a smooth and clean appearance. The so-called Normal Roadster was one of three catalogue Roadster styles available on the 500 K chassis, and features a very striking design in its own right, with a beltline that dipped at the doors and curved around a very short, almost tucked-under rear seat, recalling earlier “Sports/2” coachwork on the famous S-series cars.
The Normal Roadster was actually rarer than the Special Roadster, with only a relative handful build, of which five survive.
“ONE OF THE PRETTIEST ON THE ROAD”
According to the respected supercharged Mercedes-Benz historian Jan Melin in his Swedish-language book, Mercedes-Benz 8-Cylindrar 1930-Talets Kompressorvagnar i Norden, the Normal Roadster was produced in two variants, with the right-hand-drive example offered here being of the early style with a flat windshield.
Mercedes-Benz archives note that the car was originally delivered to Mercedes-Benz London on 7 February 1936. The original purchase was evidently one Philip Lucas, however Melin notes that the car was not actually registered until April 1937, with number DLK 694, and that the first owner at that time was recorded as a Mr. Withy. The car remained in England through the war and in January 1955 was advertised by the avid antique automobile dealer Jack Bond of Vintage Autos in Motor Sport. “This is acknowledged as one of the prettiest of the larger pre-war type of Mercedes on the road,” Bond noted, “and is in beautiful condition.”
Historian Ronald Johnson noted that around this time, in 1955 or 1956, the car was purchased by Carter Schaub of Apex, North Carolina. Schaub, an astute connoisseur whose collection included several highly significant supercharged Mercedes-Benz, including notably the famed Count Trossi SSK. Its next known owner was interior designer and automobile collector Carlisle Marshall of Lake Worth, Florida. In the October 1978 issue of Car Collector magazine, the car was described as having recently undergone a restoration in the hands of Mervin “Beaver” Colver of Wisconsin, probably the best-known and most respected American restorer of the time. The restoration was shown by Mr. Marshall at the Classic Car Club of America’s Annual Meeting in Boca Raton, Florida in January 1979.
In early 1980, the 500 K was sold by Marshall to Dr. Terry Bennett of New Hampshire. Dr. Bennett retained the car until 1988, when it returned to Europe, having been acquired by Nick Harley for his client, Swedish property tycoon Hans Thulin. The Normal Roadster joined the Consolidator Collection of highly significant automobiles being built by Thulin, including the likes of a Ferrari 250 GTO, Mercedes-Benz W154, and perhaps most prominently, a Bugatti Type 41 “Royale,” with which this 500 K was briefly exhibited in the halls of the Technical Museum in Stockholm. Thulin’s infamous reversal in fortunes followed and resulted in the 500 K’s return to the US by 1991. It joined the present collection a year later, and it has now remained largely tucked away and unshown for 30 years.
The car was refinished shortly prior to joining the collection in rich bordeaux red with a tan leather interior, but, significantly, the restoration preserved such priceless and seldom-found original features as the body number stampings in the floorboards, and the original Typenschild and body number plates. Further, the Normal Roadster retains to this day its numbers-matching engine, chassis, and coachwork. The restoration remains very clean, well-preserved, and highly attractive throughout, with the leather interior in fact showing scarcely any evidence of use since its fitment, and the engine compartment and chassis being extremely clean and tidy. Dual rear-mounted spares add a special flair, as do period cowl lamps with mirrors.
This is a splendid example of that wonderful rarity, the rakish Normal Roadster—a true sportsman’s 500 K for the devotee of the supercharged Mercedes-Benz.