8-9 September 2013

Mercedes Collection

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Lot 132

1932 Mercedes-Benz 15/75 HP Mannheim 370 S Sport Roadster

  • Chassis no. 87123
  • Engine no. 87123

Sold for £770,000

75 bhp, 3,689 cc inline six-cylinder engine with dual carburettors, three-speed manual transmission with overdrive, semi-elliptic leaf-spring suspension front and rear with solid rear axle, and four-wheel mechanical brakes. Wheelbase: 2,850 mm

In 1926, two of Germany’s premier car manufacturers, Daimler and Benz, joined forces, creating Daimler-Benz A.G. To symbolise this union, a new logo was created: the Mercedes three-pointed star was placed inside of a circle with the names “Mercedes” and “Benz” around it, which was bordered by a pair of laurel branches. With a pair of factories at their disposal, the “Mannheim”-designated Mercedes-Benzes were built at the Benz Works facilities in Mannheim, Germany, whilst the “Stuttgart” cars were built at the Daimler factory in Stuttgart.

Both manufacturers were well respected when it came to creating cars of a sporting nature, and it was immediately clear that the union would serve to produce even more sporting automobiles in the future. Of the models created in the years following the merger between Daimler and Benz, the Mercedes-Benz 15/75 HP 370 stands out amongst the rest as some of the most elegant and sporting cars to come out of the factory at Mannheim. These cars helped to pave a clear road for the development of future sporting cars that would wear the three-pointed star. Some of Mercedes-Benzes most popular and historically significant automobiles, namely the 540 models, owe a part of their development and existence to the 370 models.

The 370 S model utilised the shortest wheelbase when compared to its closest siblings, the 350 and 380 models, as well as the supercharged 370 K. This helped to give the car a much sportier feeling, and as a result, the 370 S was considered to be much more of a driver’s car than something to be chauffeured in. Producing a normally aspirated 75 horsepower, performance was stately, with a top speed of 75 mph. This was fast enough to cruise at speed on Germany’s new system of highways, and it was simultaneously comfortable, with the engine-mated to Mercedes’ three-speed manual gearbox with overdrive.

Not only was the 370 S an exciting car to drive, but it was also just as exciting to look at. As per usual with Mercedes-Benz vehicles of that era, the 370 S oozed sophistication and elegance. With a beautiful body that featured flowing wings that juxtaposed with uniformity of the Mercedes-Benz grille, the 370 S was a thing of beauty, and it is a very elegant car indeed, especially when bodied as a convertible or roadster. With the convertible top safely stowed away, there was no doubt that the 370 S Sport Roadster provided one of the finest driving experiences of its day.

The gorgeous example here is chassis 87123, which was born as a sport cabriolet and delivered to its original owner, Karl Anton Henschel, via the Daimler-Benz Nuremburg branch in January 1933. Based on a piece of correspondence to Mercedes-Benz that is dated from 1997, it is known to have been owned by a Mr Obermeier. Between 2004 and 2006, the car was rebodied by well-known restorer Franz Prahl, in the form of the sport roadster, which was originally produced on the 85-horsepower 370 S chassis. It is believed that only seven of this body style were built, and given Prahl’s ability to restore cars to better than new condition, it is understandable why he would choose this body style.

Those familiar with Prahl’s handiwork will immediately recognise this example as his work. The chassis is so finely finished that it appears as if it could have been manufactured in a laboratory. The same can be said of the 75-horsepower Type 370 powerplant, which could fool some into believing it was a piece of jewellery rather than an internal combustion engine, if not given away by the presence of the dual SU side-draft carbs.

Of course, the livery would have to be befitting of the striking coachwork, so it is, of course, logical that the colours would be triple black. The bodywork is exceptionally straight and has wonderful paint application, and the cloth top and leather interior display equally well, with no wear whatsoever. The interior is set off by the highly polished wood-rimmed steering wheel.

Completing the exterior presentation are wire wheels that have painted rims and chrome spokes and are shod with Michelin Cord blackwall tyres; dual rear-mounted spare tyres, for an aggressive and distinctly continental look; Bosch headlights and spot light; and aftermarket turn signals, for safety on modern roads. This 370 Sport Roadster is unequivocally a thing of beauty, and it must be viewed in person to be fully understood and appreciated.

Alexander Weaver

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California, United States

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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United Kingdom

Augustin Sabatié-Garat joined RM Europe in 2012 as a Car Specialist after more than a decade in the collector car hobby. Gradua... read more

Barney Ruprecht

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Ontario, Canada

Barney’s interest in classic cars began at an early age after being introduced to his father’s all-original 1965 Porsche 911. Barney l... read more

David Swig

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California, United States

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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United States

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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Donnie Gould joined the RM team in 2002 as a partner and Car Specialist after more than two decades in the vintage automobile auction ... read more

Gord Duff

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Gord Duff began his journey with RM Sotheby’s in 1998. Since then, he has gained an intimate knowledge of a variety of marques a... read more

Jake Auerbach

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California, United States

Jake Auerbach got his start in the automotive industry at an early age, spending his summers during high school working at a classic c... read more

Kurt Forry

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Having worked for Bonhams’ Automobilia department for over 10 years, Kurt Forry joined RM Sotheby’s with more than a decad... read more

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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United Kingdom

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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Ontario, Canada

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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United Kingdom

With an extensive background in exotic sports car history and sales, a particular passion for American curves, and fluency in three la... read more

Paul Darvill

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United Kingdom

Paul Darvill joined the RM Sotheby’s European team at the beginning of 2015. Paul holds a degree in French and Politics from the... read more

Pete Fisher

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Ontario, Canada

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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California, United States

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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United Kingdom

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