Ride like royalty in the King of Jordan's Mercedes-Benz
Bonnhams is selling a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A next month, which last belonged to the King of Jordan
Royal car ownership is some of the most interesting, with monarchs often demonstrating extravagant tastes or receiving gifts from some of the automotive elite Belgian royal family. His Majesty King Hussein bin Talal, former King of Jordan, was the proud owner of a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Cabriolet A with coachwork by Sindelfingen. A truly majestic vehicles for an important man – and it's up for sale!
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The 540 K was the pinnacle of Mercedes’ production models from the 1930s, with an independently suspended chassis, a 5.4-litre supercharged straight-eight engine and four-speed gearbox. These features were introduced under the company’s new chief engineer Max Sailer, who truly perfected the supercharger system, in which pressing the accelerator pedal to the floor would simultaneously engage the compressor and close off the alternative atmospheric intake to the carburettor.
Mercedes chose the Paris Salon in October 1936 to launch the car, of which was presented as a combination of racing history and new coachbuilding-focused styling. Both the exterior and interior were afforded the highest standards of design, with polished metal, hardwoods and leather woven into the cabin. In Mercedes’ words, it was ‘the car for the connoisseur’.
When not supercharged, the engine was capable of 178bhp, but engage the supercharger by pushing the pedal down and the car could reach speeds of 110mph, a monumental pace for the time. Despite the view that older cars run with druid-levels of technology, this Benz ran with servo-assisted hydraulic brakes.
One of the later models, chassis no. 408386, was first used in Germany by a Henry Ford Cooper, who left the country with the car in 1943. He used the car frequently, and eventually sold it in ‘54 to a US soldier. The car had been visually tweaked at this point to look more in line with Mercedes’ current stock, and the car remained with US owners until returning to its homeland in ‘78. Then, after seven years of ownership, Dr Haral Alfers let go of his Mercedes, to none other than the King of Jordan.
His Majesty had ascended to the throne in 1953, and remained there until ‘99, building up quite a collection of cars in the process. Mercedes-Benz was one of his favourites, even visiting the brand’s Classic Centre in Stuttgart. In 1987 his Merc was transported to the Royal Albert Hall in London where it formed part of a ‘Ten Important Motor Cars’ event, and unlike most of his collection, it spent a lot of time on the road or around the world rather than his own museum.
In ‘91 it underwent a restoration which included converting the car to right-hand drive for an expected future UK residence of the car in the King’s Windsor mansion. The livery was also changed to tones of red, and it has remained in that specification since.
Why this car has come to our attention though is that it’s headed to sale, in possibly a once-in-a-lifetime auction. Bonhams is the auction house taking on the sale of the vehicle, and will be putting it under the block at its Paris event on Feburary 7. The estimate price is €1,700,000 - €2,300,000 (£1,500,000 - £2,100,000), a sign not only of the standard of this vehicle, but how rare such an opportunity to buy it is.
Classic Cars for Sale
We recently imported this 1988 Mercedes 560SL out of sunny California. The condition of this 560SL was already very good, but upon arrival we gave the car a full service and rebuild the bumpers to European specifications. Upon request we can also mount the EU style headlights. This 560SL is in very sound condition. The car shows no rust what so ever. The 5.6 litre V8 engine runs strong and smooth.