In the late 1920s powerful touring cars shaped Mercedes-Benz’s image. They reached incredible speeds of nearly 200 km/h and triumphed as racing versions that were even faster. But this much sheer muscle power was just too raw, too coarse, too primeval for the country outings of customers used to travelling in luxury. A cultivated successor had to be found.
In contrast to the chauffeur-driven models that still represented the norm in those days, the impressive, fashionable 500 K appealed to the well-heeled owner-drivers (also commonly referred to as “gentlemen drivers”). No fewer than nine different body variants meant that potential customers were spoiled for choice: would they prefer a saloon or a touring car? The avant-garde “Autobahnkurier”? Or maybe one of the three cabriolets? Perhaps a two-seater coupe or a sports roadster? But the most elegant model of them all was the Special Roadster. It is considered to be one of the finest-looking cars ever made.
Beneath its breathtaking exterior the 500 K boasted the very best those times had to offer: independent suspension, hydraulic brakes, an eight-cylinder in-line engine with overhead valves and an engageable belt-driven supercharger. But it was the fact that only 29 500 K Special Roadsters ever left the plant that constituted the ultimate in exclusivity. It comes as no surprise, then, that well-maintained specimens are today deemed to be valuable works of art.