1938 Mercedes Autobahn Kurier Wins Pebble08/16/2021
Collector and restorer Arturo Keller got an early 9oth birthday present Sunday when his high-mileage 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier became the third car he’s entered to win the prestigious Best in Show at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance.
“We always like Mercedes,” Keller said after the win. “When I was young, I saw Mercedes win in Le Mans, I saw it win in Mexico in La Carrera Panamericana. We love all cars, but our favorite, I can say so, is the Mercedes-Benz.”
Keller’s other two Best of Show wins were also with Mercedes: a 1936 500K Special Roadster that won in 1986, and a 1930 700SS Erdmann & Rossi Roadster that took top honors in 2001. But this win was special.
“We love that it is unique, completely original, we are the second owner, there is no other car like this in the world,” Keller said. “It is unique in all the world. The only other one is in pieces in Iran. This is a very special car. It’s difficult to find a car with only one owner from new.”
The Kurier was bought new in 1938 by a gentleman in Barcelona, who took it with him when he moved to Africa, Switzerland, and then back to Barcelona. The man kept the Mercedes the rest of his life. When he died, his family sold it to Keller, who restored it a little over 10 years ago. While some could be forgiven to then squirrel it away to preserve its beauty forever, Keller and his wife Deborah instead drove it all over, including in a rally from Monte Carlo to Venice, 10 days over Alpine passes. While Mercedes furnished a chase truck and a mechanic for that adventure, they needn’t have bothered.
“We finished the route without any problems,” he said. “It was fantastic—10 days flying in the car eight hours a day.”
It ain’t no trailer queen.
With a long hood, flowing fenders, sweeping roof line, seating for two in an aft cabin, and a dark color, this car is the size, shape, and year for a Pebble winner. But the two of the three runners-up were post-war cars: a 1957 Maserati 450S Zagato Coupe and a 1967 Ferrari 365 Pininfarina Tre Posti three-seater. The third runner-up for Best in Show at Pebble was a more traditional Pebble prize-winner, a 1935 Bugatti Type 57C Convertible.
Could a Ferrari win again, just seven years after Jon Shirley’s 1954 375 MM Scaglietti Coupe took the crown and shook the collector car world? It will again, one day. For now, the ancient order remained in place and Arturo Keller’s beautiful and well-driven pre-war Mercedes won again. Felicidades!
Have you ever attended the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance? If so, what is the most memorable car you saw? Share in the comments below.
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