19-20 January 2017

Offered from the Jules Barsotti Collection

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Lot 210

1931 Mercedes-Benz 370 S Mannheim Sport Cabriolet

  • Chassis no. U87058
  • Engine no. 87058
  • Body no. 801710
  • Commission no. 63320

Sold for $330,000

75 bhp, 3,689 cc inline six-cylinder engine with dual carburetors, three-speed manual transmission with overdrive, semi-elliptical leaf-spring suspension in the front and rear, a solid rear axle, and four-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 112 in.

  • Offered from the Jules Barsotti Collection
  • The centerpiece of the Collection since 1966
  • Only five owners from new; original bodywork, chassis, and engine
  • Documented with a copy of the original commission sheet
  • Widely shown all over the West Coast for 50 years
  • Perhaps the best-known 370 S in North America

In 1986, Mercedes-Benz honored its 100th anniversary with exhibits and celebrations worldwide. Among these was a six-month Centennial Exhibition at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, utilizing models from throughout the company’s rich history, gathered together from numerous West Coast collectors. Special classes saluted the Star and the Laurel at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. A book was even published, The First Century, with artwork by Ken Dallison, to commemorate the occasion.

Everywhere you looked, Jules Barsotti’s 370 S Mannheim Sport Cabriolet was there. It may well have been invited on its own merits, which were abundant, but in a way that special cars and special people often combine, its ownership made it poignant. Not only was this an excellent example of the first touring model built by a combined Daimler and Benz, but it was owned by the man who built the small European Motors into today’s Mercedes-Benz of San Francisco. In a bustling Northern California market that is today filled with SLs and E-Classes, Jules Barsotti was first, and for the rest of his life he remained a landmark of the area’s motoring culture. His 370 S was a part of that life, and thus a part of that culture.

“BENZ 28”

The provenance of the Barsotti 370 S is documented by a copy of its factory commission sheet, noting its delivery with engine and chassis both numbered 87058 and “Sport Cabr./2” coachwork, thus confirming its delivery in the desirable configuration in which it is presented today. It was ordered by the Mercedes-Benz agent in Vienna, Austria, for Count Ferdinand, of the noble Austrian Arco-Zinneberg family, for delivery to his home in St. Martin im Innkreis. A subsequent owner, noted in the original Austrian registration book, was likewise of noble birth, a “Freiherr” by the name of Rudolf von Hudolin, in Salzburg. Von Hudolin sold the car on 25 February 1960, to Koos Blakestein.

Mr. Blakestein subsequently relocated with the car to the Netherlands, and advertised it to American buyers, using the same photo as in its Austrian registration booklet, in the September 1960 issue of Sports Cars Illustrated. The car was then purchased by longtime Mercedes-Benz Club of North America member Allen Bishop of Deerfield, Illinois, in suburban Chicago, and thus arrived in the United States.

In an article he wrote for The First Century, Mr. Barsotti noted that he acquired the car in Chicago, presumably from Mr. Bishop, in 1966, paying $6,000 for it, with noted San Francisco enthusiast Martin Swig (then the European Motors sales manager) arranging the transaction. With the assistance of his father, himself a skilled inventor and fabricator who had built the world’s first amphibious automobile in 1914, Mr. Barsotti completed a brief cosmetic and mechanical restoration, and put the car in his showroom. It left the dealership to attend the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in 1972 and 1973, winning 3rd in Class the latter year.

Longtime Concours co-chair Jules Heumann, appreciating the car with his connoisseur’s eye, suggested to Mr. Barsotti that he do a proper restoration, as the 370 S “was really worth it.” The owner listened, and after a rather adventurous four-year restoration effort—including the purloining of the car by a former employee, and its subsequent retrieval—the Sport Cabriolet did, indeed, win Best in Class at Pebble Beach in 1977.

Many more exhibits followed, including more years on display in the San Francisco showroom of European Motors, and appearances at Pebble Beach and in the Natural History Museum in 1986, for which the car received a new California blue license plate, “100 YEARS,” replacing its longstanding “BENZ 28” (honoring what was thought, at the time, to be its model year). Eventually, as its owner aged, it was put into storage in the City by the Bay, alongside other significant cars that Mr. Barsotti had acquired over the years, and until recently, there it has remained.

While the restoration has aged somewhat, the car remains very solid, complete, and highly presentable, having not been driven in some years; it would require thorough mechanical service, having been in storage for several years. It would also be the best possible basis for authentic restoration of a rare and beautiful 370 S Sport Cabriolet—today offered to the enthusiast community, and its sixth owner from new, by the family of Jules Barsotti, a man who loved and celebrated Mercedes-Benzes, none more so than this particular car.


Please note that the title is in transit and also there are no keys available with this vehicle.

Please contact our exclusive automotive transportation partner, Reliable Carriers, for a shipping quote or any other information on the transport of this vehicle.

Alexander Weaver

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Alexander Weaver joined RM Sotheby’s in 2011 as a Car Specialist after graduating from Furman University in South Carolina. Born... read more

Augustin Sabatié-Garat

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Barney Ruprecht

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David Swig

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David Swig joined RM Sotheby’s West Coast division as a Car Specialist in May 2015. David is a life-long automobile enthusi... read more

Don Rose

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Don joined RM in 2006 after several years of professionally trading sports and classic cars, and after earning a reputation as a noted... read more

Donnie Gould

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Gord Duff

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Matt Malamut

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A long-time car enthusiast and Southern California native, Matt studied Automotive Technology at San Diego Miramar College and complet... read more

Michael Squire

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Michael Squire joined RM Sotheby’s European Division in the summer of 2016. He comes to RM with a prestigious racing background ... read more

Mike Fairbairn

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As one of the three founding partners of RM Sotheby’s, Mike has a long-standing interest in the classic car industry. Graduating... read more

Oliver Camelin

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Pete Fisher

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Pete Fisher was first introduced to antique cars in high school, working for Classic Coachworks in his hometown of Blenheim, Ontario. ... read more

Shelby Myers

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Shelby Myers grew up with the classic car industry infused into every aspect of his life. He had the unique opportunity to watch the R... read more

Tonnie Van der Velden

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Tonnie Van der Velden joined RM Sotheby’s European division in September 2015 as a Car Specialist. A lifelong enthusiast, Tonnie... read more