Monterey

18-19 August 2017

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Lot 246

1936 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Offener Tourenwagen by Sindelfingen

  • Chassis no. 123724
  • Engine no. 123724
  • Body no. 814102

Sold for $1,540,000


Please note that Internet bidding is not available for this lot. Interested parties that are unable to attend the sale may register to bid by telephone or place a commission bid online at rmsothebys.com.

  • Class award-winner, 2015 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
  • One of four extant examples of this highly sporting design
  • Previous single-family ownership for 63 years
  • Restoration by noted marque specialists
  • Rakish and dramatic; the true Art Deco heir to the S and SS


The grandly named Offener Tourenwagen was Mercedes-Benz’s name for, in its literal translation, a four-passenger open tourer. This design on the 500 K chassis was one of the few bodies for that model to share obvious visual DNA with the powerful S and SS models that had proceeded it in the 1920s. It had a light, sporting look, with long fenders and a low-slung beltline under its jaunty fabric top, and it is instantly, visibly a classic supercharged Mercedes in every line and curve. In many ways, even more so than the vaunted Spezial-Roadster, this was the performance model of the 500 K line, for the sporting gentleman or lady, and the true heir to the great brutes of the previous decade.

By the time that this body style was introduced, open cars were steadily declining in favor, and historian Jan Melin notes that only 16 examples of the Offener Tourenwagen were produced on the 500 K chassis. Of those, four are known to have survived, all of them held in private collections.

CHASSIS NUMBER 123724: THE HONEYMOON 500 K

The example offered here, chassis no. 123724, was delivered by the Daimler-Benz branch in Munich on 19 November 1935, carrying engine number 123724 and Sindelfingen body number 814102, as it does today.

Dr. Ralph W.E. Cox, an early American car enthusiast, aviator, and overall colorful figure, visited Munich on his honeymoon in 1951. He spotted the 500 K on a local used car lot and decided that it would make a splendid addition to his growing collection back home. It was shortly acquired from its owner, a Mr. Unholzer, and driven to Paris, then to the port at Le Havre, from which it was shipped to New York and eventually home to New Jersey.

Dr. Cox eventually opened the Frontier Village Museum at the Cape May, New Jersey airport, and there the 500 K was exhibited for many years. Eventually it was transferred to the Museum of Automobiles at Petit Jean Mountain in Arkansas, where it remained on exhibit until finally being sold by Dr. Cox’s heirs in early 2014 to the consignor.

While the car had received a restoration by Dr. Cox’s son in the early 1990s, it was found to be largely cosmetic, and the car remained in very original order, including what appeared to be its original 1936 leather upholstery. A comprehensive fresh restoration was undertaken by well-known Mercedes-Benz expert, Jim Friswold, in which the car was finished in this beautiful color scheme of medium oak green with a tan leather interior and corresponding green canvas top. It retains several of its most distinguishing features, including Bosch headlamps, fog light, and dual horns, and a handsome Munich-built Hopako touring trunk, which has been with the car since it was found in 1951 and perhaps earlier, and contains a two-piece set of fitted luggage. Satisfyingly, the car retains what appear to be the original engine number tag and stamping, and the original body number is still visible stamped into the body near a front frame rail, testament to its life spent in good hands as a largely unmolested machine.

The owner has exhibited the restored car only selectively, including at the 2016 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, where it was bestowed a Class award, and that year’s Forest Grove Concours d’Elegance, where it was the poster car, Best in Class, and Best of Show. It is therefore available for many further concours opportunities at the hands of a new owner, who will surely appreciate and treasure this rare 500 K just as much as the late Dr. Ralph W.E. Cox.

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 911. Barney l... 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

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. ... 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