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The Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance Blog

1973 Best of Show Winner

October 21, 2020

1939 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Cabriolet A shown by Mrs. Otis Chandler

Between 1936 and 1940, Mercedes-Benz produced a total of 419 540Ks — named for the powerful 5.4-liter straight-eight engine delivering 115 horsepower. 

A number of standard bodies were offered by the marque’s Sindelfingen factory, including various Cabriolets and a Special Roadster — but this particular 540K bears a Special Cabriolet A commissioned by a client in Paris and combining the classic lines of a cabriolet with the raked V windshield of the roadster. There is just one other Special Cabriolet A, and it is on a 500K.

The car has had several well-known owners, including American operatic tenor James Melton, Tom Barrett and General William Lyon. Los Angeles Times publisher Otis Chandler purchased it in the early 1970s and had it restored by Richard Martin.

In keeping with early Concours, where cars were often exhibited by women donning the latest Parisian fashions, Otis Chandler entered the car in the name of his wife, Marilyn. At the time it was a lively two-tone green. Its livery changed to bright red during a later restoration.

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