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Project 38 of 40

In the 1930s, the supercharged MERCEDES-BENZ 500K’s imposing styling and unparalleled performance was perfect for exploiting Germany’s growing network of autobahns. In 1936 it gave way to the 540K with its 5,4-litre engine and a maximum power output of 134 kilowatts, enough to propel these majestic 2,3-ton cars to over 160 kilometres per hour.

This four-seater Cabriolet first appeared at the 1936 Berlin Motor Show. In 1938 it was bought by the German government to be used as a wedding gift from Adolf Hitler to King Farouk I of Egypt. The car’s colour was changed to the king’s preferred dark shade of red, the interior and hood reupholstered in contrasting beige leather and a unique dashboard fitted. It was presented as “the most precise car manufactured in the world”.

In 1996 the car underwent a five-year restoration and, remarkably, the specialists were able to retain 90 per cent of the original car.



Year 1936
Country of Origin Germany
Engine Type 5.4 litre or 329.5 cu/in
Power Output 115 HP or 85.75 kW uncompressed180 HP
or 134 kW compressed
Transmission Type 4 Speed with independent rear suspension
Braking System disc brakes all round
Top speed 170 km/h or 106 mph