Maharaja's Mercedes: 1.4 million euros will do nicely, thanks
This magnificent 5.5-litre Mercedes-Benz 540K, manufactured in 1937 for a renowned collector, Yaswant Rao Holkar II, Maharaja of Indore, was a star attraction at the Irish Classic and Vintage Car Show in Dublin earlier this month. My friend William Fagan, an Irish Leica user, collector and member of The Leica Society, sent me these shots of the car and filled me in on some of the background.
The Maharaja was one of the foremost car collectors of the vintage period and this Mercedes 540 Kompressor was just one of his passing fancies. Despite its imposing size it was a two-seater cabriolet capable of "astonishing" performance for a car of the period. The British magazine Autocar tested a similar model and found it could reach 100 mph, had a 0-60 mph time of only 16.5 seconds and a blower letting out an "almost demoniacal howl".
The car was discovered in a Mumbai motor agent's yard in the 1970s, giving the appearance a low-mileage vehicle with little evidence of use. Years later, after changing owners, it was completely rebuilt in in the USA in 2002 and finished in a deep midnight blue with a harmonising blue hood. Its odometer, which read only 17,000 miles at the time, was reset to zero.
And zeros is what the Mercedes-Benz attracted. In May 2011 is sold at auction for €1.4 million euros. Similar cars now sell for many millions and this car is almost certainly now worth a great deal more than the buyer paid in 2011.