It was the age of the all-conquering Silver Arrows racing cars and the ruthless and relentless technological overkill that spawned them. Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix dominance was accompanied by a radical land speed record project employing a 3,300 horsepower Mercedes-Benz V-12 DB603 aircraft engine. There was even an Indy 500 project on paper in the
, Mercedes-Benz’s fabled racing division. It now seems inevitable that some of the energy, glamour, power, speed and technology that went into the Mercedes-Benz Grand Prix Champions of the 1930s would find its way into the marquee 500K and 540K as the decade came to an end.
Both Mercedes 500K and 540K bear a Wagnerian automotive presence simply sitting still. In motion the 500s are the essence of Grand Touring presence and power: cars that matched Germany’s fabled Autobahns . . . “a car capable of travelling indefinitely at high speeds”, said
magazine. According to the journals of the day it was “the fastest production car in the world.”
A supercharged 5.4 liter straight-eight engine ultimately delivered 180 horsepower making a “an almost demonic howl” mirroring the straight-eight engineering format of the W125 racing car that dominated the 1937 Grand Prix season.