PIC OF THE WEEK: MERCEDES-BENZ 500 K
PH presents a very 'Special Roadster' from the 1930s
to meet M-B design boss Gorden Wagener, a few of the assembled hacks were distracted by a gorgeous hunk of motoring perfection.
No, not PH editor Chris-R (got to be worth a pay rise, that), but the supercharged Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster that had been laid on as one of the 'inspirations' guiding Wagener's future direction for the M-B brand.
We're not scholars of automotive history ourselves, but we know what we like. So for this week's POTW, we're proud to offer a Merc studio shot of the car in question, and a bit of a history lesson courtesy of the official press release reproduced below:
Mercedes-Benz 500 K Special Roadster, 1934 (Press release)
Along with the prestigious Grand Mercedes, the 500 K embodied the Mercedes-Benz brand in the 1930s. Equipped with an in-line eight-cylinder engine, it allowed journeys to be completed at high speed and in great comfort. As with the four- and six-cylinder supercharged models, the Roots blower did not run constantly. On the 500 K, the driver activated the supercharger by fully depressing the accelerator pedal when extra power was required, such as for an overtaking.
The 500 K presented itself as an object of consummate aesthetics. In their time, it was neither very modern nor particularly avant-garde. The different body variants were robust, sophisticated and characterised by extravagant, flowing lines. Their elegant appearance designed by Hermann Ahrens contributed very much to the excellent image of Sindelfingen body design. The range included a four-door sedan, a streamlined limousine, a two-seater roadster with two occasional seats, three convertible versions and a two-door open-top touring car.
The special roadster was the most beautiful and most elegant of the eight body variants available for the 500 K. In the international motor shows in Paris and London it was described as the "most beautiful car in the show". It had a high-quality interior trimmed with exotic wood and equipped with reclining seats as well as an extensive set of instruments including a rev counter and temperature gauge. Priced at 28,000 Reichmarks, it was also the most expensive variant. It therefore comes as no surprise that only 25 of the 500 K special roadsters were produced - a very small number compared to the 342 units of the 500 K built in total.
In 1936, the 500 K was succeeded by the 540 K which was nearly indistinguishable from the 500 K on the outside because improvements were made predominantly to the engine and transmission. The brochure described the 540 K as "the world standard for beauty and speed". The special roadster continued to be the most beautiful, most elegant and most exclusive variant.
Number of cylinders 8
Displacement 5,018 cc / 306 cu in
Maximum output 100 hp (74 kW) at 3,400 rpm
with supercharger 160 hp (118 kW) at 3,400 rpm
Top speed 160 km/h / 100 mph