Wednesday, October 4, 2023
Monterey Car Week at Pebble Beach 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster Wins 2023 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster Wins 2023 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance

The 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster, with its rich history and elegant design, took top honors at the 2023 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.


  • The 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster secured the Best of Show at the 2023 Pebble Beach.

  • With a past tied to King Shah of Afghanistan, it was safely stored in Paris during WWII.

  • Among 26 of its kind, this Mercedes exemplifies the craftsmanship and elegance of the 1930s.


The 2023 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance showcased an array of classic beauties, but the star was undoubtedly the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster. While contenders like the Porsche 901 prototype caught many eyes, the title went to this pre-war gem.

Photo : Evan Klein

This Mercedes 540K isn’t just a jaw-dropping oh-so-valuable classic; it has an amazing story. Initially owned by King Shah of Afghanistan, it found a safe haven from WWII’s turmoil in the Afghanistan embassy in Paris until 1948. It then graced London’s streets under the king’s son-in-law before landing with its current owner, Jim Patterson of Louisville, Kentucky.

The 540K Special Roadster, of which only 26 units were ever made, showcases Mercedes’ dedication to superior craftsmanship in the 1930s. Equipped with a supercharged 5.4-liter inline-eight engine, it churns out 180 horsepower. Its ahead-of-its-time suspension system, with both front double wishbone and rear swing-axle setups, further emphasizes its engineering merit.

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Originally priced at $12,000 (equivalent to about $260,000 today), its value today, especially after the Pebble Beach win, is hard to pin down. In August of 2022, though, a similar example sold for almost $10,000,000.00 USD through an RM Sotheby’s auction. Yet, beyond its specs and monetary worth, it’s the car’s journey from royalty to wartime refuge to the spotlight that truly makes it stand out.

While many attendees had their favorites, and some wished for “newer” models like the Porsche 901 to win, the Mercedes 540K Special Roadster’s combination of history, design, and engineering ensured its victory.

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