Amelia Island

10-11 March 2017

A Gentleman's Collection: The Pride & Passion of Orin Smith

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Lot 135

1936 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet B by Sindelfingen

  • Chassis no. 130921
  • Engine no. 130921
  • Commission no. 219844

Sold for $698,500


115/180 hp, 5,401 cc OHV inline eight-cylinder engine with driver-activated Roots-type supercharger and two-barrel updraft pressurized carburetor, four-speed manual transmission with synchromesh on third and a dog clutch on fourth, independent wishbone coil front suspension, independent swing-arm rear suspension, and four-wheel servo-assisted hydraulic drum brakes. Wheelbase: 128 in.

  • Desirable early “lighter” Cabriolet B body style
  • Part of the Smith Collection for nearly a decade
  • Wonderful authenticity throughout


Of the numerous handsomely crafted Mercedes-Benz 540 K variants, among the most desirable were the selection of cabriolet offerings, produced by the factory’s coachbuilding shops at Sindelfingen. The Cabriolet B was distinguished by its four-passenger interior, with a comfortable rear seat for two, and a soft top with rear quarter windows. Two variations were produced, of which the most desirable is the so-called “early” Cabriolet B, which retains 500 K-style bodywork, including vertical louvers on the hood sides, but with certain 540 K features, including the bumpers.

The early Cabriolet B offered here was one of the original acquisitions made for the Smith Collection, Orin Smith having purchased it in 2008 from a longtime friend in New Jersey. Information with the car when it was acquired noted that it had formerly been part of California’s renowned Blackhawk Collection, then came to the East Coast, where it resided in Alan Rosenblum’s Pennsylvania collection for several years. It is pictured in Volume Two of Jan Melin’s Mercedes-Benz 8: The Supercharged 8-Cylinder Cars of the 1930s while in the care of another owner, Jerry J. Moore of Houston, Texas, whose fascinating museum included several 540 K cabriolets . . . all identically finished, in red.

The car was cosmetically restored some years ago in that brilliant scarlet livery, with a complementary tan canvas top and tan leather interior, as well as chrome wire wheels. While the paintwork and interior are both older now, they have held up well over the years, in particular the tight and crisp interior. Today the car presents as a very clean example both outside and underneath. The headlights carry proper Bosch lenses and are accented by a pair of Marchal driving lights and Raydyot cowl lamps. The dashboard carries proper, clean gauges in its brilliant mother of pearl facing, with the odometer noting 11,201 kilometers at the time of cataloguing. Proper Sekurit glass is fitted to all windows. In preparation for the sale, the car has been fitted with six new tires, including the dual spares.

Under the hood the original serial number tag is still present on the firewall, identifying the chassis number as 130921; the engine is stamped 130921 on what appears to be the original and correct block stamping, while the engine tag notes 130931. An original body number could not be located in the wood, but the woodwork beneath the seats and in the sills nonetheless appears original and well-kept, with the correct plaid cloth backing to the seat cushions. Accompanying the car is a charmingly weathered original 540 K manual, as well as a selection of paperwork.

While many extant 540 K cabriolets have been exhaustively restored to showpiece standards, this car charmingly offers something different: a highly usable example that can be enjoyed on Classic Car Club of America (CCCA) CARavans or on any number of rallying events, including the Colorado Grand. Further, its appearance could be freshened cosmetically and easily for a new turn at the concours circuit. It retains all the glorious Teutonic arrogance of its past, and all of its power, as well.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

aweaver@rmsothebys.com

+1 864 313 6844
California, United States

Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

asabatie-garat@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 74 1511 4179
United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

bruprecht@rmsothebys.com

+1 203 912 7168
Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 9... read more

Cameron Smyth

csmyth@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Cameron Smyth joined RM Sotheby’s as a Car Specialist in 2015, working out of our corporate office and providing assistance on c... read more

David Swig

dswig@rmsothebys.com

+1 415 302 2247
California, United States

David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

drose@rmsothebys.com

+1 617 513 0388
United States

Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

dgould@rmsothebys.com

+1 954 566 2209
Florida, United States

Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

gduff@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Ian Kelleher

ikelleher@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Ian Kelleher began his automotive career immediately following his graduation from Oberlin College with a Bachelor of Arts in Politica... read more

Jake Auerbach

jauerbach@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

kforry@rmsothebys.com

+1 717 623 1638
California, United States

Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

Matt Malamut

mmalamut@rmsothebys.com

+1 805 231 6410
California, United States

A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

msquire@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

mfairbairn@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 352 4575
Ontario, Canada

As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

ocamelin@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 75 0110 7447
United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

pdarvill@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

pfisher@rmsothebys.com

+1 519 784 9300
Ontario, Canada

Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. He att... read more

Peter Wallman

pwallman@rmsothebys.com

+44 (0) 20 7851 7070
United Kingdom

Peter Wallman joined RM Europe in 2007 following nearly two decades in the international advertising industry, where he was based out ... read more

Shelby Myers

smyers@rmsothebys.com

+1 310 559 4575
California, United States

Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

tvandervelden@rmsothebys.com

+31 653 84 19 60
United Kingdom

Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more