6,740cc, OHV Inline 6-Cylinder Engine
2 Carburetors with Roots Supercharger, 120 or 180bhp at 3,000rpm
4-Speed Manual Transmission
Front and Read Semi-Elliptic Leaf Spring Suspension
4-Wheel Drum Brakes
*Original left hand drive example delivered new to America
*Original coachwork, matching engine
*Featured in numerous marque reference books
*'The Car of Kings'
*Former Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance multiple prize Winner
THE MERCEDES-BENZ TYP 'S'
"Silent streams of super-power... unbounded flexibility"..."comfort to carry you to the ends of the earth" - quoted period Mercedes-Benz advertising in America for the legendary Typ S.
The British Mercedes marketing would elaborate more: "Decades of experience in the building of sports cars of superior performance, the universally known high grade workmanship of the Benz-Mercedes Works and their masterly designs have contributed harmoniously to the creation of the Mercedes-Benz Sport model 'S', which may justly be described as the acme of motor car perfection"
Mercedes were right to make such bold statements on the arrival of their new model in the late 1920s, the equivalent motoring press would 'wax lyrical' about its incredible performance.
The 'S' was created in a magical period for the company, shortly after the merger of Daimler and Benz, while Ferdinand Porsche was Chief Engineer. He built a powerful, yet versatile automobile - a true all rounder, at home on the race track, at hill climbs and providing exhilarating driving for the road. The signature engineering feature was its 'on demand' Roots type supercharger, that only came into operation when the accelerator was fully depressed, boosting power output from 120 to 180 brake horsepower for a few glorious seconds!
Mercedes nestled the impressive 6.8 liter power unit into a low slung double dropped chassis, which was proudly adorned with a massive radiator. Contemporary photographs of the completely unclothed 'S' running gear show the model to be as beautiful, sporting and purposeful even before rakish coachwork was applied. In truly uncompromising fashion, the clearance between the engine and the hood was no more than an inch.
Mercedes debuted the cars at the opening meeting of the Nurburgring in 1927, where Caracciola set the tone with a class win, it would be the first of many laurels bestowed on the model. Here in America, Ralph de Palma drove an 'S' to victory in the 15 and 30-mile races at Atlantic City, averaging 80mph.
Mercedes worked hard in selling their latest definitive sports car, and despite a price tag of more than $7,000 without coachwork they found willing homes around the globe from royalty to celebrity. In America, notable owners included Al Jolson, who owned by an S and SS, the Marx brothers who famously raced their car in the Muroc Match Race, Barney Oldfield, and theater impresario Samuel Lionel "Roxy" Rathafel, of New York fame and founder of the 'Rockettes' dance troupe, today still present each holiday season at Radio City. While further afield enthusiasts included English Sportswoman Dorothy Paget, daughter of Pauline Payne Whitney, the Fifth Earl Howe, Sir Malcolm Campbell and novelist Sir Arthur Conan Doyle to name but a few.
Quite simply, there wasn't anything to touch the Mercedes, but as with its competitors, it faced an uphill struggle for sales as the depression set in and only 174 of these remarkable cars were ever built between 1927 and 1930. Of the many books on the marque, one particularly detailed book on the 'S' was written by American Herbert Lozier in the 1960s, the apt title is 'The Car of Kings'...
Mercedes' bold claims for the model 'S' were endorsed universally at the time and in the 90 years that have ensued since, have been held in high esteem, continually re-affirmed by generations of collectors, from Brooks Stevens to Bill Harrah, and examples reside in many of the most significant collections around the world. Some families never even parted with their cars and as recently as 2012, Bonhams sold one from the same family it had been delivered to when new. As with other coveted automobiles, from day one opportunities to purchase them rarely appear.
THE MOTORCAR OFFERED
This 'Car of Kings' was one of few that were delivered new to North America. It was originally commissioned on February 13, 1928 and was shipped to Berlin to be equipped with coachwork by Erdmann and Rossi, one of only a handful so bodied. Ranked among the elite of European coachbuilders, Berlin-based Erdmann & Rossi specialized in bodying prestige makes including Horch, Maybach, Packard, Cadillac, Bentley, Rolls-Royce (they were Germany's official importer) and, of course, Mercedes-Benz.
Their distinguished clientele included European royalty, industrialists, actors, pilots and racing drivers. Built under Kommission order number 37831, Erdmann and Rossi would most likely also have been working on the consecutive number order 37832 a 630K (sold by Bonhams in 2013) which was also built for the American market.
The completed car was photographed by the works in 1928, an image which by merit of distinguishing features and being captioned with its 'Kom' number can be seen to be repeated in countless reference works on the marque, including the aforementioned Herbert Lozier book, Werner Oswald's 'Mercedes-Benz Personenwagen 1886-1984', and Michael Frostick's 'The Mighty Mercedes'. Interestingly, as new it wore a single central Mercedes-Benz badge on the V of its radiator as was common practice for 'SS' models, as opposed to a three pointed star on either side of the 'V'.
The magnificent car would then leave Europe for the next 80 years at this point, being destined for the Mercedes-Benz Company, New York, where it was received on consignment on January 23, 1929. By the end of April 1929 it had found its first custodian, as noted on the factory records.
The details of who Mercedes sold the car to have always remained unknown, but we can be certain that it was well looked after, because when found by H. Edward White of Connecticut in the early 1960s, it remained in remarkably intact order as photos of the discovery confirm. White worked for Kodak Eastman and seems to have used contacts within his own industry to establish what he had found. In particular he corresponded with Ernst Richartz in Mainz in Germany in February 1964, who responded enthusiastically, 'If you find (sic) this true, you found yourself a real gem, if you do not possess (sic) it already, get to it, do it calm, let nobody not even a good friend know what you found and most important, buy it with a poker-face'.
It is not certain whether White acquired the car or was simply responsible for its discovery, but within a few years it had passed to noted car sleuth Ben Moser, who advertised the Mercedes in 1968, describing it as '100% Complete and Original', its price, a mere $8,800 F.O.B.!
Later the car would pass to another noted collector Ed Swearingen of San Antonio, Texas. Mr. Swearingen would be responsible for the car's comprehensive refurbishment, which culminated in its debut at the world renowned Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance in 1996. On that day, the 'S' took multiple awards: 'First in Class - Mercedes-Benz 1925-1939 and the Gwen Graham Award for Most Elegant Open Car' - high praise indeed.
In his later years, Mr. Swearingen parted with the 'S' at which point the Mercedes returned to Europe for the first time in its career, where in the last couple of decades the car has been cherished in two significant European collections. Today, its 20 year old restoration stands up extremely well and has been enhanced further with an exquisite refurbishment of its upholstery in black grained hide. A full complement of accessories, including beautiful Carl Zeiss headlights, driving lights and Bosch horns adorn the front of the car, giving it incredible visual stature. The Mercedes retains original coachwork and matching engine, as well as the period photos confirming that it is very much as it was delivered new. Its owner reports the car to be driving extremely well.
2017 marks the 90th anniversary of the introduction of the S type Mercedes, the fastest car in the world in its day. Returning to the American soil on which it was delivered, this majestic 'Car of Kings' offers the rare chance to experience this legendary Porsche-designed model, truly one of the icons on which the 125 year old brand was built, harnessing the style, performance and sheer quality that we associate with the Three Pointed Star in 2017.