The 6.8-litre engine of the S Type, the model on which all the others were based, produced an output of 120 bhp (88 kW) without a supercharger and 180 bhp (132 kW) with the supercharger engaged. This made the S Type one of the fastest and most sought-after sports cars of its time. Its debut public appearance at the opening race at the Nürburgring in 1927 ended with a threefold victory for Mercedes-Benz. Rudolf Caracciola drove his S Type across the finishing line in first place.
Only 146 of these exclusive high-performance sports cars were ever made, the vast majority of them sold as open-top four-seaters with a Sindelfingen body. A select few, however, such as this year’s Best in Show winner at Pebble Beach, were delivered as a chassis to have their bodywork made by the most famous coachbuilders of the era. For many years now, the Mercedes-Benz S Type has been one of the most popular collector’s cars and also one of the most valuable.
At a Gooding & Company auction held at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, a Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster from 1936 was sold for $11.8 million. “Mercedes-Benz vehicles always achieve top prices at international auctions,” says Michael Bock, Head of Mercedes-Benz Classic. “And the Special Roadster is one of the most coveted cars among prominent collectors.” This particular vehicle has an fascinating history. First bought by an aristocratic Prussian family, it soon passed into the ownership of Baroness Gisela von Krieger. During the Second World War, she took the Special Roadster first to Switzerland and from there to the USA, where it remained unused in a garage for more than 40 years until her death. The car was then restored to immaculate condition.