Mercedes-Benz 500K-540K earn honors at Amelia Island Concours

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Mercedes
The 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K is powered by a supercharged straight-8 | Richard and Melanie Lundquist

Editor’s note: The ClassicCars.com Journal is your source for Amelia Island news – from collector car auctions and shows to the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance. Read more of our coverage on our dedicated page.


Majestically beautiful and stunningly powerful, the Mercedes-Benz 500K-540K roadsters of the 1934-39 are considered the reigning supercars of the era.  They are among the most desirable and valuable of pre-war collector cars, transcending the dark time in history from which they came.

The 24th annual Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance will honor the iconic Mercedes masterpieces with a special class that will take center stage at the Florida showcase, held March 10 on the fairways of The Golf Club of Amelia Island at the Ritz-Carlton Resort.

Mercedes
The unabashedly streamlined 540K is among the most beautiful cars ever made

“It was the age of the all-conquering Silver Arrows racing cars, and the ruthless and relentless technological overkill that spawned them,” according to a concours news release. “It now seems inevitable that some of the energy, glamour, power, speed and technology that went into the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix champions of the 1930s would find its way into the marquee 500K and 540K as the decade came to an end.”

The supercharged 500K and 540K Benzes descended from the SSK, which won the grueling 1931 Mille Miglia road race. The 500K was introduced at the 1934 Berlin Auto Show, where it was greeted with frenzied acclaim.

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They were the fastest production cars of their day with the capability of traveling at high speeds on Germany’s famed Autobahn highways.

“A supercharged 5.4-liter straight-8 engine ultimately delivered 180 horsepower making ‘an almost demonic howl’,” the release says.

Mercedes
This 1936 500K was part of the Bill Harrah Collection in Reno | National Automobile Museum

Just 354 500Ks were created from 1934-1936 and 319 540Ks built from 1936 through 1939, each priced at the equivalent of a then-lofty $5,000.

“We have assembled a mouthwatering class of 500Ks and 540Ks,” Bill Warner, founder and chairman of the concours, said in the release. “This will undoubtedly be one of our ‘destination classes’; knowledgeable enthusiasts will enter the 2019 Amelia Concours show field and head straight for this class.”

Other special classes announced by the Amelia Island Concours include Revolutionary Innovations of the Indianapolis 500, Custom Coachwork Volkswagens and Cars of the Rock Stars.

For more information about the concours and associated events taking place March 7-10, visit the Amelia Island Concours website. 

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Bob Golfen is a longtime automotive writer and editor, focusing on new vehicles, collector cars, car culture and the automotive lifestyle. He is the former automotive writer and editor for The Arizona Republic and SPEED.com, the website for the SPEED motorsports channel. He has written free-lance articles for a number of publications, including Autoweek, The New York Times and Barrett-Jackson auction catalogs. A collector car enthusiast with a wide range of knowledge about the old cars that we all love and desire, Bob enjoys tinkering with archaic machinery. His current obsession is a 1962 Porsche 356 Super coupe.

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