- One of 16 surviving original left-hand-drive 500 K Cabriolet Cs
- Attractive older restoration by the renowned Hill & Vaughn
- An excellent 500 K for mechanical freshening and touring
No one who has heard a supercharged Mercedes-Benz of the Classic Era is ever likely to forget it. A Valkyrie’s cry, some say. Wagnerian, say others. Faustian has been suggested too. No other car in the world sounded quite like it...There can be no doubt that the 500 K made a bold statement, in both styling and performance. Daimler-Benz was bold enough to promote the model as ‘the fastest touring car in the world’ – without offending truth in advertising. There are cars which can stir one’s soul – and this is indeed among them.
- Beverly Rae Kimes, The Classic Car, Spring 1986
The 500 K Mercedes-Benz was the German equivalent to the Duesenberg Model J or the Rolls-Royce Phantom II Continental—a car built specifically for high-speed autobahn travel. Its supercharged inline-eight produced some 150 horsepower and was mounted to a tubular steel chassis inspired by its manufacturer’s Grand Prix offerings, enabling both swift speed and excellent driving manners for the period. Surrounding this engineering art was marvelous coachwork, highlighted by long, dramatic open front fenders that emphasized the length of the hood, crowned by a subtly vee’d radiator bearing the famous star and laurel. In the late 1930s there were few more impressive-looking automobiles, and fewer still with the technology to back up their beauty.
Of the 342 500 K chassis produced, the vast majority, 301, were clothed by the factory works at Sindelfingen. Just 90 of these were the four-passenger Cabriolet C, a blind-quarter four-passenger convertible of the type built in two different styles, which American manufacturers called a convertible victoria. Marque historian Jonathan Sierakowski estimates that only 20 of these 90 cars still exist, of which 16 are original left-hand-drive examples.
The example offered here is one of those surviving Cabriolet Cs. Recorded by Mercedes-Benz under Kommission number 209800, the factory archive indicates it was delivered on 12 October 1935 to a customer in Hamburg. Around 1980 it was discovered in the ownership of the late collector Izzy Dupont of Columbus, Ohio. A photo on file from that time depicts it still in apparently very good condition, and in that condition it was acquired from Mr. Dupont’s estate by collector Richard Wesselink of Thousand Oaks, California. In recent correspondence, Mr. Wesselink recalled purchasing the car and commissioned its restoration by the renowned Hill & Vaughn between 1984 and 1985; he noted that at this time, partner Phil Hill was still actively involved and personally participated in the completion of the work.
Finished in two shades of rich scarlet with a beige interior piped in maroon, the car was shown by Mr. Wesselink at the 1985 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, winning its class. Mr. Wesselink recounted that Mercedes-Benz was sufficiently impressed with the 500 K that they asked to use it in their 100th anniversary celebrations, and subsequently were loaned it for display and to use in their advertisements.
Acquired for the current collection in the early 1980s, the 500 K is still wearing its Pebble Beach restoration by one of the best-regarded restoration shops of all time. Appropriate to the quality of their work, is still highly appealing, with the paintwork and chrome largely holding up well, and light age and stretching visible to the upholstery. Under the hood remains clean and attractive, with extensive engine-turned finishes adding an appropriately flamboyant touch, and the car retains its original chassis and motor stampings.
The Cabriolet C is a wonderful choice on the 500 K, offering the practicality of a family-friendly interior with the beauty of a blind-quarter top, and this example has much to recommend it.