1935 MERCEDES-BENZ 500K FOUR PASSENGER TOURER
COACHWORK BY MAYFAIR CARRIAGE CO
Former UK Registration No. BYU 150
Chassis No. 123689
Engine No. 123689
Red with cream leather interior
Engine: Straight 8, in-line, overhead valve, 5,019cc, 100bhp or 160bhp with supercharger engaged at 3400rpm; Gearbox: four speed manual; Suspension: fully independent; Brakes: four wheel drum. Right hand drive.
The merger of Daimler and Benz in the mid 1920s came at a time of acute difficulty for the German motor industry. The combined firm produced only 2,000 Mercedes-Benz vehicles per year, yet employed a workforce of almost 20,000. Karl Benz outlived Gottlieb Daimler by many years and died at the age of 85 in 1929 when the reorganization at Stuttgart-Unterturkheim and Mannheim was finally beginning to make an impact. Competition success, such as Rudolf Caracciola's 1930 European Hillclimb Championship in a supercharged SSK, helped sales which had risen to 6,000 in 1932 from a workforce reduced to 9,000 by the virtual closure of the Benz factories. The addition of smaller cars as commercial vehicles saw output rise to 25,000 in 1935, of which a mere 190 were the flagship 5-litre supercharged models.
The 500K was built between 1933 and 1935 and a few of the later chassis were fitted with the experimental 5.4-litre engine of the subsequent 540K, which pushed top speed to substantially more than 100mph. The 500K and the 540K were the natural successors to the famous supercharged sports models of the 1920s and early 1930s, but with more refinement and comfort.
According to the Michael Frostick book, The Mighty Mercedes, the car on offer here was originally fitted with an English body (earlier research indicates this car was supplied in chassis form to the Mayfair Carriage works in London) and the completed car was first supplied in July 1935 to Sir Everard Scarisbrick with the registration number BYU 150. It is interesting to note the number of famous owners in the UK of the 500K model, such as the Hon. Miss Dorothy Paget, Sir Max Aitkin, Maharajah of Bravancur and Madame Conan Doyle, to name but a few.
No early history of this car has yet come to light, however in 1967 this Mercedes-Benz, finished in black, was sold by the dealers, D.E. Cohen Inc. of Troy, New York, to Dr. Camperlengo who commenced a comprehensive restoration upon the car in the early 1970s. However, before the work was completed, he sold the car to well known Mercedes-Benz collectors, Paul and Barbara Karassik, who finished the restoration and painted the car dark green. The Karassiks owned the car for the following 15 years and used it rather sparingly. They did enjoy driving the car on occassion during the summer months when the weather was fair. In 1988 they sold the car to well known English car dealers, Coys of Kensington, who we believe restored the car again and repainted it red. In the early 1990s, the 500K returned to the USA and it resided in California from where Bill Lassiter purchased it in September 1992.
As mentioned above, the car was first sold in July 1935, however, its USA paperwork lists the car as a 1934 model.
The striking paintwork, while now perhaps ten years old, is still highly presentable and is an attractive compliment to the cream leather upholstery which also appears to be in good condition. The chrome is also well presented, although we noted some slight flaking from the rear of the central spotlight and some minor nicks in the radiator shell. The underbody, engine compartment and motor are in a clean, well maintained condition showing only limited driving use. The woodwork is also nicely finished. This supercharged and very rare Mayfair bodied tourer is equipped with dual hidden horns, black canvas top and top boot, chrome wire wheels with red logo caps and dual rear mounted spares. With its traditional Mercedes-Benz radiator grille and mascot, stylish coachwork and outside exhausts, this fabulous example of 1930s opulance exudes both power and grace and would obviously be a welcome entry at numerous concours events throughout the world.