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  • Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster.
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    Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster.

    The model Mercedes-Benz 500 K has already beguiled the automotive upper crust in 1934.

One of the big stars.

Even if the W 29 model series Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster seems to be in the shadow of its successor with the even more imposing designation 540 K, it was one of the big stars at the Pebble Beach Auto Week in the summer of 2018. It was not only at the spectacular Concours d’Elegance on the closing Sunday that the open luxury model, in its rare brown paint finish, stole the show from most of the other stars with four wheels and their drivers. A few days beforehand, classic fans at the traditional Pebble Beach tour of automotive legends were able to view the enchanting luxury roadster to their hearts’ content.

The Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster is over five metres long and weighs 2,350 kilograms.

The Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster is over five metres long and weighs 2,350 kilograms.

The exclusive and elegant 500 K Special Roadster was introduced to the public in autumn 1934 at the Paris Motor Show.

The exclusive and elegant 500 K Special Roadster was introduced to the public in autumn 1934 at the Paris Motor Show.

Premiere at the car show in Paris in 1934.

How many of the 30 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadsters are still around today, more than 80 years after its premiere at the car show in Paris in October 1934? Even Mercedes-Benz classic expert Michael Plag draws a blank: “I really don’t know. It surely can’t be many. We have hardly any information about how many of these vehicles still exist.”

Rare luxury sports car.

The same goes for the value, as there is no real market price for such a rare luxury sports car from the pre-war period. If a Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster were to go under the hammer at one of the well-known auctions today, the winning bid would certainly be more than ten million.


The maximum speed was 160 km/h.

The maximum speed was 160 km/h.

The vehicles were hand-produced and built exclusively according to the wishes of their customers. Construction time: five months.

The vehicles were hand-produced and built exclusively according to the wishes of their customers. Construction time: five months.


One of the few dream cars.

In the mid-1930s, the W 29 model series Special Roadster was one of the few dream cars that industrial magnates and stars, at most, could afford. For the then 26,000 and, from the autumn of 1935, 28,000 Reichsmarks one could alternatively buy a luxury villa in Grunewald, Berlin. The almost 30 vehicles were manufactured with great individuality precisely according to the wishes of each customer. Production time: at least five months.


Vestige of an automotive era.

Those who take a closer look at the classic with the official German registration number S – O 18 H will fall for the 2+2 seater, if they haven’t already. The mighty brown sports car, with its expansive shapes and magnificent design, is the vestige of an automotive era that scarcely had any limits. Technically, the Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster is based on the chassis of the W 29 model series. Its design is made elegant not only by the softly curved fenders, and the golden section next to the emphatically low windshield, which just barely protects the two occupants against the airflow.


You do not have to go very fast in the 500 to realise that a small storm is blowing through the leather-covered cockpit. It was not only in its own time that the open beauty offered a mighty drive. The five-litre, in-line, eight-cylinder drive train under the long lift bonnet of the Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster uses compressor supercharging, so that instead of the continuously available 74 kW/100 PS, it is possible to unleash up to 118 kW/160 PS with the right amount of pressure on the narrow accelerator pedal.


The technical data are stamped in the engine compartment.

The technical data are stamped in the engine compartment.


The most important technical data.

The most important technical data is stamped onto the vehicle badge, seemingly for perpetuity: Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft, Stuttgart-Untertürkheim plant, 100 or 160 PS, 4,984 ccm displacement and a considerable weight of 2,350 kilograms. The right driving comfort is ensured not only by the synchronised, three-speed transmission with overdrive for the motorway, but also by the double transverse control arms at the front and a floating axle at the rear. In order to be able to slow down from what was then an incredible top speed of up to 160 km/h, correspondingly sized, hydraulically operated drum brakes were fitted.


A real innovation.

The cockpit is a real eye-catcher, and not just because of its refined, round dials. “The frame of the instruments was manufactured from artificial mother-of-pearl,” Michael Plag says, as he drives the brown cabriolet down the beautiful 17 Mile Drive. “Back then that was a real innovation – more exclusive than real mother-of-pearl.” Alongside the two perfectly stitched leather seats behind the wheel, just in case, there was also a folding “mother-in-law seat”, allowing the Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster to be converted into a 2+2 seater. Mostly, however, the two seats were not used by what was presumably an unpopular family member, but they instead held the lady’s luggage. The passengers in the second row would also have been exposed to any precipitation. As, if it is raining heavily, only the front row of the Special Roadster can be protected with a close-cut soft top and side windows.


Unique: the dashboard is made of imitation mother-of-pearl.

Unique: the dashboard is made of imitation mother-of-pearl.

Filigreed auxiliary lights behind the exterior mirrors.

Filigreed auxiliary lights behind the exterior mirrors.


An automotive legend.

Take a look at the Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster and, again and again, you will find new details and refinements that reinspire you and make you dream of the 1930s. The lamp units on the front and rear are each furnished with delicately crafted miniature Mercedes stars. Alongside the large main headlamps in front of the august radiator grille, there are chrome-plated search lights on the left and right-hand side of the windshield. And perfectly staged on their rear: the outside mirrors. The Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster is an automotive legend – right down to the smallest detail.


Image gallery.