A 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Cabriolet C has recently sold with a premium history. The car belonged to Farouk the First, King of Egypt.
The Mercedes-Benz 540K was the ultimate pre-War Mercedes road car, the Kidston website notes, following the recent sale for an undisclosed amount. Luxurious, extravagant, expensive, it was everything a state leader would want.
Mercedes revealed the automobile at the Paris Motor Show in October 1936. The model comes with a 5.4-liter supercharged straight-eight engine, with 115 bhp unsupercharged or 180 bhp with the Roots-type supercharger engaged. The power unit transferred resources via a four-speed gearbox.
The 540K could hit 177 km/h (110 mph) with the throttle pedal down. Autocar Magazine tested it in May 1938 and reached the highest maximum speed of any road-test car up to that date: 168.5 km/h (104.65 mph).
This Mercedes-Benz 540K had a totally different color in 1937
This particular unit rolled off the assembly line in the first year of production and it was on display at the Berlin Internationale Automobil und Motorradausstellung (Motor Show) in February 1937. It was the debut of the model on home soil. The Fuhrer himself opened the event in Berlin.
The Mercedes-Benz 540K was an ultra-exclusive model. Only 83 cars in the shape of the Cabriolet A saw the light of day. There were 190 Cabriolet Bs and the Cabriolet Cs were even rarer: only 32 cars were built. It featured two doors and four seats. The one that Kidston presented for sale was got a new paint scheme soon after its reveal. Why did that happen? The answer is simple. It was a gift from Nazi Germany to His Majesty Farouk I, King of Egypt and Sudan on his wedding day. The King would only use red cars, so the 540K had to become red in order to comply with the royal preference. Nobody else in the kingdom had permission to drive red cars, so it was easy for the police to spot the one car they were not allowed to pull over.
Farouk’s car remained in Egypt, stored in remarkably complete condition and still red, until 1988. An Egyptian collector bought it at auction and shipped it to his home in France. It sold in Germany eight years later and it underwent a five-year restoration by Esdar Classics. It sold again in May 2006 in Monaco, when a world-class collector bought it and took it to a climate-controlled garage in the UK.
The price was only available for those who asked.