Bonhams second sale at Mercedes-Benz Museum exceeds inaugural effort

A gullwing is on the auction block
1938 540 K cabriolet hammers as high-dollar sale at Mercedes museum auction | Bonhams photos
1938 540 K cabriolet hammers as high-dollar sale at Mercedes museum auction | Bonhams photos

Bonhams staged its second sale at the Mercedes-Benz Museum on Saturday, with total sales of 13 million euro, a million more than the inaugural sale there last summer.

That 13 million euro figure is today’s equivalent of $14.16 million, which is less than the $16 million figure we reported for the inaugural sale in July. So how can more be less? Simple: The U.S. dollar is much stronger compared with the euro now than it was last summer.

A gullwing is on the auction block
A gullwing is on the auction block

The second sale posted a 92 percent sell-through rate and was led by a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540 K cabriolet that sold for $2,996,255. This was the first time the car had been offered for sale at any auction. It was sold to a buyer from Germany. (All prices include buyer’s fees.)

Also drawing considerable interest from bidders was a 1931 770 “Grosser Mercedes” cabriolet D that originally was owned by Erik Charell, a German actor, producer and director famous for the 1930 resurrection of the play The White Horse Inn. The car, one of only 18 produced, sold for $2,509,364.

The sale included a quartet of 300SLs. A 1960 roadster formerly owned by Germany industrialist Alfried Krupp was offered for the first time in 35 years and sold for $1,217,229. Another roadster, a 1961 model with disc brakes and 48 years of ownership by the same family, brought $1,186,018. A 1957 roadster with its factory hardtop brought $1,148,564. And a1957 gullwing coupe was sold for $1,136,080.

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The oldest car offered at the auction was a 1900 Benz Ideal that sold for $230,961.

“With a full sale room, active internet bidding, and international bidders both in the room and on the telephone, we saw spectacular prices for cars in exemplary condition and with great provenance,” said Malcolm Barber, Bonhams co-chair and the day’s auctioneer, in a post-sale news release.

Michael Bock, head of Mercedes-Benz Classic, said he was “delighted” with the sale, which he called “a great success.”

Philip Kantor, head of Bonhams motorcars division in Europe, announced that a third annual auction at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart will be held in 2016.

Top 10 sales, Bonhams at Mercedes-Benz Museum, 2015:

Gulping one of four 300SL that sell for $1 million plus
Gulping one of four 300SL that sell for $1 million plus
  1. 1938 540 K cabriolet, $2,996,255
  2. 1931 770 “Grosser Mercedes” cabriolet D, $2,509,364
  3. 1960 300SL roadster, $1,217,229
  4. 1961 300SL roadster, $1,186,018
  5. 1957 300SL roadster, $1,148,564
  6. 1957 300SL coupe, $1,136,080
  7. 1957 300 SC coupe, $621,723
  8. 1931 15/75 PS Manheim 370 S roadstser, $599,251
  9. 1954 300 S cabriolet A, $505,618
  10. 2007 SLR McLaren roadster, $308,364

(Prices include buyer’s fees.)

A former daily newspaper sports editor, Larry Edsall spent a dozen years as an editor at AutoWeek magazine before making the transition to writing for the web and becoming the author of more than 15 automotive books. In addition to being founding editor at, Larry has written for The New York Times and The Detroit News and was an adjunct honors professor at the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at Arizona State University.