A Mercedes 540K Special Roadster built in 1937 for the King of Afghanistan won Best of Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on August 20, 2023.
A stunning Mercedes 540K Special Roadster has won ‘Best of Show’ at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance held on the final day of Pebble Beach Automotive Week (17 to 20 August 2023).
This is the tenth win for Mercedes at Pebble Beach since the competition has been held since 1950. Mercedes’ last two Pebble Beach victories were in 2021 with another Mercedes 540 K Autobahnkurier belonging to Arturo and Deborah Keller and in 2017 with the Mercedes Type S Touring belonging to Bruce McCaw Barker. Thus, Mercedes is the brand with the most Pebble Beach wins.
The Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance is one of the most important classic car competitions worldwide, alongside the Concours d’Elegance at Villa d’Este on Lake Como, Italy.
The “Best of Show” winner at Pebble Beach was commissioned in May 1937 by Mohammed Zahir Shah, King of Afghanistan, and delivered in September 1937. The French-educated monarch then brought the car in the mid-1940s to the Afghan embassy in Paris, and in 1950, he gave it as a gift to his son-in-law, who took it to Great Britain. In 1953, the car was sold to a US collector.
The car has been kept in good condition and properly maintained over the years. The current owner is American collector Jim Patterson, who has won the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance with two other models: the Isotta Fraschini Tipo 8A Worblaufen Cabriolet (1924) in 2015 and the Delage D8 S de Villars Roadster (1933) in 2010.
Patterson bought the car for $9.9 million at auction during Pebble Beach Automotive Week in 2022, about which we wrote here last year. After the purchase, Patterson handled the restoration of the car, which was done by RM Auto Restoration in cooperation with the Mercedes Classic Center.
Mercedes produced 760 chassis for the 500K and 540K models of the W29 series between February 1934 and November 1939. Of these, 354 have the 5-liter engine and 406 the 5.4-liter engine used since 1936. The engines were combined with no less than nine body versions, and only 58 units were roadsters.
The King of Afghanistan example is equipped with the 5.4-liter inline 8-cylinder engine and features a high side line of the doors, curved body contours with a recessed radiator, and a flowing rear end with a concealed spare wheel.
A similar Mercedes 540K Special Roadster was sold in January 2016 at a Sotheby’s auction for $9.9 million.