Cars of the ’30s featured at Bonhams’ Mercedes museum sale

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Saoutchik-bodied 1935 500 K cabriolet goes to auction | Bonhams photos
Saoutchik-bodied 1935 500 K cabriolet goes to auction | Bonhams photos

Elegant cars of the 1930s highlight the third annual Bonhams Mercedes-Benz sale to be held March 19 at the automaker’s museum in Germany, little more than a week after its sale today at Amelia Island.

The star of the three-pointed star showcase figures to be a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500 K cabriolet. The car originally was displayed at the 1935 Paris auto show as a bodyless chassis.

Charles Crocker, a doctor, and Lawrence Copley Thaw both apparently sought the chassis, which Crocker obtained, with Thaw settling for a Rolls-Royce. Hoping to outdo his friend, Crocker took the chassis to Russian-born Paris coachbuilder Jacques Saoutchik, who finished the car.

“It is reported that on taking delivery of the chassis, Saoutchik declared that he would build a body for the Mercedes that would be, ‘As handsomely received half a century from now as it will today.’ And he fulfilled his promise,” Philip Kantor, Bonhams European head of motoring, said in a news release, adding that “What remains today is magnificent.”

The car goes to auction with an estimated value of $6.6 million to $7.7 million.

1936 500K sports roadster
1936 500K sports roadster

Also in the catalog for the sale is a 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K sports roadster with Sindelfingen coachwork and a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K roadster with body by Lancefield.

The ’36 500K is expected to bring some $4 million while the ’38 540K has a pre-auction estimate in the $3.4 million range.

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Other star cars include a 1939 540K Cabriolet A and a 1935 500K Cabriolet C, both the Sindelfingen bodywork.

Bonhams inaugural sale at the Mercedes-Benz museum produced more than $16 million in sales, and that figure was exceeded last year, though not in dollars. While the 2015 sale did better in euros, the strength of the U.S. dollar showed sales of $14.16 million when the monetary conversion was done.

1938 540K roadster
1938 540K roadster
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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 ClassicCars.com, 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.