The 300 SL Gullwing was one of the highlights at the Bonhams Mercedes-Benz Auction 2015.

Bonhams Mercedes-Benz Auction 2015.

In a class of its own: the 300 SL “Gullwing” on the red carpet at the Bonhams Mercedes-Benz Auction 2015.
The Mercedes-Benz W 540 K Cabriolet was the star of the Bonhams Mercedes-Benz Auction 2015.

Autocar icons on the red carpet.

The star is in dark blue. Silver chrome elements adorn the flowing lines of the beautiful body. The convertible top is up. As the 540 K Cabriolet A from 1938 rolls across the red carpet into the auction room at the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, there is nearly no one left in their seat – bidders and spectators alike are on their feet to catch a glimpse of one of the most beautiful automobiles in the almost 130-year history of Mercedes-Benz. There is no doubt about it: with lot number 119, the Bonhams Mercedes-Benz Auction 2015 has reached one of its zeniths. Malcolm Barber, the charismatic auctioneer and vice-president of Bonhams, calls his audience to order and presents the automotive icon. For a brief moment, there is silence in the room. Then comes the battle of the bidders, which is not confined to the room, with bids coming in also by phone and over the internet.

Sold for 2.76 million euros.

Two hours before: in the entrance to the Mercedes-Benz Museum, we meet a couple of bidders. They are hoping to buy the 540 K Cabriolet A and a 220 S “Ponton” Cabriolet. “On behalf of clients”, they tell us. Both of them are optimistic: “The two vehicles will be hard fought over. It’ll be interesting to see what happens in the room afterwards.” Their British companion adds jokingly: “Perhaps we’ll just buy a cheap car to get me home. I’ve come on the train.”

The Mercedes-Benz W 540 K in front of the building of the Mercedes-Benz Museum.

Unfortunately, pulling out just before the highest bid, the likeable pair ultimately fail in their quest to take home the star of the show. The 540 K Cabriolet A stands at 2,760,000 euros (including premium) as Malcolm Barber brings down his hammer on his wooden desk.

A 1960 300 SL Roadster previously owned by the industrial magnate Alfried Krupp.

“The vehicle is even more original than me”.

In addition to the 540 K Cabriolet A, there were numerous other highlights from Mercedes-Benz’s past to admire and bid for, with a total of 43 vehicles at the venue. Also there is a 1960 300 SL Roadster previously owned by the industrial Alfried Krupp. The SL is in excellent condition – nothing has been altered on the vehicle since it left the factory. “This car is even more original than me”, jokes Malcolm Barber with his British humour. The audience laughs. In the end, the dream roadster fetches 1,121,250 euros (including premium). Further highlights on offer include a Mercedes-Benz Mannheim cabriolet from 1931 and a 300 S Cabriolet A from 1954, one of just 203 that were built.

Over 100 years of mobility history.

Equally attention-grabbing was a Benz Ideal from 1900, a motor vehicle with a power output of 4,5 hp. An impressive piece of automotive history. It would be wrong to think that the Bonhams Mercedes-Benz Auction was reserved exclusively for motor vehicles. The brand with the star has much more. Two eye-catchers, right at the start of the auction: a Mercedes-Benz Model 8 ladies cycle from 1925 and a Ferbedo Mercedes-Benz child’s pedal car from the 1950s.

A Mercedes-Benz Model 8 ladies cycle from 1925.

Also on offer are numerous signed postcards of famous racing drivers, models such as an Amalgam W 196 streamlined racing car and paintings by Walter Gotschke, Rodney Diggens and Dexter Brown.

The Mercedes star as a byword for quality.

A dream car as an investment.

The buying motives of the bidders are as varied as the selection of vehicles on offer at the Bonhams Mercedes-Benz Auction 2015. One of the bidders lets us know why he wanted to buy a painting by the artist Tony Upson showing a Mercedes star in acrylic: “It would have fitted perfectly in my garage, where I keep my Mercedes-Benz 190 SL, which I restored myself. In the end, however, the price got too high for me.”

The painting was sold by auction for 1,375 euros (including premium). A Dutch bidder who, in addition to paintings and postcards, successfully acquired a 220 S “Ponton” Cabriolet has quite different reasons. He is always on the lookout: “I attend events of this kind all over the world. I collect Mercedes-Benz cars as an investment. The other objects are for my private museum.”

Bonhams and Mercedes-Benz.

After the end of the auction, auctioneer Malcolm Barber lets us into the recipe for the success of the Bonhams Mercedes-Benz Auction: “Mercedes is the inventor of the automobile. People respect the brand. They know they’re buying a Mercedes-Benz. They know they’re buying quality.” And yet presumably Barber himself is part of this auction’s success: with his British humour, the auctioneer not only whets the international bidders’ desire to buy, but also ensures constantly high entertainment value of the over five-hour event. Michael Bock, head of Mercedes-Benz Classic and Customer Center, is also obviously pleased after the event: “We’ve learned a lot since last year – including how to appeal to collectors. This was reflected in the high quality of the vehicles on offer. Also, the collaboration with Bonhams was excellent and we are looking forward to the further cooperation.”

Mercedes-Benz 770 Cabriolet D (W07).

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