I am a mechanical engineer. I have always been attracted to excellence in the field of engineering because it epitomises the capability of human brain. It demonstrate what humans can achieve by possessing the ability to think and innovate. Germany has always been at the forefront of engineering excellence, be it mechanical, electrical, chemical or civil. I am a huge fan of German engineering and as an extension, German automobiles. Mercedes has a special place in my heart. I think, that is the reason that I have been subconsciously buying up Mercedes models. The one I am going to write about today demonstrated the capability of this iconic manufacturer in the days before the second world war devastated the world.
The car I am talking about was the Mercedes 500 K Special Roadster. Only 29 of these cars were build between 1934 and 1936. The car represented the peak of German luxury. They were designed by Friedrich Geiger, who also designed among other cars the Mercedes 300 SL. In my opinion, it is one of the most beautiful cars ever built. It represents motion even at standstill. It ticks all the right boxes to attract a man, a long bonnet, sweeping lines, the right curves. And to top it all, a humongous and extremely powerful engine. The 500 K was unveiled at the Berlin Motor Show in 1934. The 500 K were Grand Touring cars. The K nomenclature distinguished them from their sedan siblings. The K represented “Kompressor”, German talk for a supercharger fitted to the engine to bump up power.
Beauty attracts beauty, and this car was very popular among the rich and famous lady drivers of the time. These cars were made to order and hence each one of them was unique. The 500 K was offered in two wheelbases and around eight body shapes. The larger 500 K, B and C types were four or five seaters. What I own is a 500 K, A Type Special Roadster. It had a shorter wheelbase and two seats. Among other luxury items, these cars offered electric wipers, electric door locks and turn indicators in 1936.
The Special Roadster had a wheel base of 2,980 mm (117.3″) as against 3,289 mm (129.5″) for the standard 500 K. These cars were 4,880 mm (192.1″) long, 1,900 mm (74.8″) wide and 1,500 mm (59.1″) tall. The body was supported using double wishbone suspension with coil springs at front, while the rear had swing axle with double coil springs. Each wheel was located separately.
The 500 K was powered by a supercharged inline eight cylinder petrol engine which displaced 5,018 cc (306.217 cu-inch). Each cylinder breathed with the help of one intake and one exhaust valve installed in the Over Head Valve configuration. These engines could produce 158 BHP at 3,400 rpm. The front mounted engine transferred all the power and torque to the rear wheels through a four speed gearbox while a 5 speed gearbox was available as an option. This engine could push the 2,700 Kg (6,000 lbs) Mercedes Benz 500 K to a top speed of 160 km/h (100 mph).
In today’s world, these are highly sought after collector’s models.