Mercedes-Benz 540K ‘Spezial’ Roadster, by John Elwell
Price Code: SOLD
John Elwell (English, b. 1949)
An extraordinary and unique hand-built sculptural model of the 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K ‘Spezial’ Roadster, approximately 1:3 scale, superbly proportioned and based on the actual car built to the order of Baroness Gisela von Krieger, which was sold at auction for close to US $12,000,000 in 2012.
John considers this model to be his ‘master work’, having taken close to 1,500 hours to construct, entirely by hand and (of course) never to be repeated.
Bearing an engraved plaque, signed Mercedes-Benz 540K, John Elwell, 1/1, 2016.
Length: 67 inches (170 cm)
Width: 21 inches (53 cm)
Height: 17 inches (43 cm).
Only 29 examples of the ‘Spezial ‘Roadster were built on the 540K, with slightly differing body styles designed by Hermann Ahrens, chief of Mercedes-Benz’ Karrosserie Sindelfingen, and in this exceptional model John has expressed what is considered to be the ‘definitive’ version, namely a high door and long tail, with concealed rear mounted (rather than side-mounted) spare wheels.
Writing of Ahrens’ flowing roadster designs in particular, the late respected historian Griffith Borgeson said: “There is a harmony and balance of line and mass… which very simply defies any conceivable improvement. They are sculptural perfection… For many people of taste, more beautiful cars will never be designed and built.” We feel that he, and Herr Ahrens, would have approved of John Elwell’s model.
As to the Mercedes-Benz 540K itself, we could do no better than to cite the eloquent comments of H.S. Linfield of Britain’s Autocar magazine in 1936: “Few experiences in motoring can match the sound and fury of a Third Reich supercharged Mercedes-Benz in full flight: One’s foot goes hard down, and an almost demoniacal howl comes in…the rev counter and speedometer needles leap round their dials: there is perhaps no other car noise in the world so distinctive as that produced by the Mercedes supercharger. This is a master car for the very few. The sheer insolence of its power affords an experience on its own.”
All images and text copyright © Pullman Gallery Ltd. 2023