|Assembly||Untertürkheim factory, Sindelfingen|
|Layout||Front-engine, rear-wheel drive|
|Engine(s)||5,018 cc straight-8|
|Transmission(s)||4-speed or optional 5-speed manual|
|Wheelbase||2,980 mm (117.3 in) (SWB)|
3,290 mm (129.5 in) (LWB)
|Curb weight||Up to 2,700 kg (6,000 lb)|
|Fuel capacity||110 l (24.2 imp gal; 29.1 US gal)|
The Mercedes 500K is a sports car built by Mercedes-Benz between 1934 and 1936, and first exhibited at the 1934 Berlin Motor Show. Distinguished from the 500 sedan by the "K" in its name which denoted the kompressor (supercharger) only fitted to the sports cars, it succeeded the Mercedes-Benz 380 which had been introduced only the previous year, using a larger, more powerful engine and more opulent coachwork to meet customers' demands for greater luxury and performance.
The 500K used the same independent suspension setup as had been introduced on the 380, with a double wishbone front axle, double-joint swing axle at the rear, and separate wheel location, coil springs and damping, a world first. Consequently it was a more comfortable and better handling car than Mercedes' previous S/SS/SSK generation of roadsters from the 1920s, and offered greater appeal to buyers, particularly the growing number of well-heeled female drivers of the time.
Using a separate foot-operated pedal alongside the accelerator to engage the Roots supercharger, the five litre straight eight engine produced 160 horsepower (120 kW) and was capable of over 160 kilometres per hour (100 mph), consuming fuel at the rate of up to 30 l/100 km (9.4 mpg-imp; 7.8 mpg-US) as it did so.
Three different chassis and eight bodies were available for customers; the two longer "B" and "C" four seat cabriolet versions rode on a wheelbase of 3,290 mm (129.5 in), and would later be used on other sedan and touring car models. The short "A" chassis, with a 2,980 mm (117.3 in) wheelbase, underpinned the two-seater models: the Motorway Courier, and the 1936 Special Roadster which offered the highest performance. All models featured such advanced equipment as safety glass, hydraulic brakes, and a 12-volt electrical system sufficient to bear the load of the electric windscreen wipers, door locks, and indicators.
342 500Ks were built during its two years in production, including 29 Special Roadsters, before being replaced by the even more powerful 540K in 1936. Today, they remain highly prized for their heritage and scarcity; when the car collection of Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone was auctioned in October 2007 it included five pre-war Mercedes, and his 500K Special Cabriolet fetched almost £700,000 (US$1.45 million).
- "1934 - The Mercedes 500K is born". Classicdriver.com. http://www.classicdriver.com/uk/magazine/3200.asp?id=11919.
- "1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster". Sportscarmarket.com. August 2001. http://www.sportscarmarket.com/Profiles/2001/August/German/.
- Frank, Michael (February 5, 2003). "Special K". Forbes. http://www.forbes.com/2003/02/25/cx_mf_0225vow.html.
- "The 25 Most Beautiful Cars Ever". Automobile Magazine. http://www.automobilemag.com/features/news/25_most_beautiful_cars/0609_mercedes_benz_500k_special_roadster/index.html.
- "Gallery: Ecclestone Merc goes for £4m". MSN. October 31, 2007. http://cars.uk.msn.com/news/car_news_article.aspx?cp-documentid=6543355.