Speed / April 2016

Mercedes-Benz 540 K Special Roadster

First unveiled at the 1936 Paris Motor Show, the Mercedes-Benz 540 K is perhaps the finest and certainly the most significant pre-War car to hail from Stuttgart. Spurred on by…
First unveiled at the 1936 Paris Motor Show, the Mercedes-Benz 540 K is perhaps the finest and certainly the most significant pre-War car to hail from Stuttgart. Spurred on by the success of their lavish flagship model 500K, Mercedes set out to improve this car in every conceivable way, producing what they envisioned to be the most desirable automobile of the 1930s and beyond. No expense was spared on the 540 K, which in standard form must have been a truly staggering sight to behold when it first hit the tarmac in 1936, yet even this car, which was hand built by Mercedes’ own expert coachbuilders of the Sindelfingen Werke, paled in comparison to the ultimate iteration of the 540 K, the ‘Spezial Roadster’. Complete with its sculptural ‘longtail’ rear-end, and imposing ‘high-door’ side profile, the Special Roadster is the car you’d imagine Jay Gatsby to only bring out on weekends, such is its rarity and sense of magnificence.

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Charlie Thomas

Charlie Thomas is a former staffer at The Rake.