Auctions and Brokerage
Coachwork by Sindelfingen
Vincent H. Borsodi, Houston, Texas (acquired new in 1936)Joe Reindl, Los Angeles, California (acquired circa 1946)William and Frances Cockrane, San Diego, California (acquired in 1956)Jack Rowe, Denver, Colorado (acquired by 1986)Blackhawk Collection, Danville, California (acquired from the above in 1992)Current Owner (acquired from the above in 2001)
CCCA New England Grand Classic, 2004 (First Place Primary, 98.5 Points)Meadowbrook Concours d’Elegance, 2006CCCA New Hampshire Grand Classic, 2008 (First Place Senior, 99.5 Points)
Significant in the automotive universe and instantly recognizable to casual observers, the supercharged eight-cylinder Mercedes-Benz of the 1930s represents one of the most exclusive automobiles of the prewar era. Endowed with powerful styling, superb engineering, and exceptional construction, these automobiles are an inimitable part of the Mercedes-Benz legend.
The elegant four-passenger Cabriolet C is identified in American parlance as a Convertible Victoria. Just 16 left-hand-drive examples survive, according to the research of the consignor, and this example is certainly one of the absolute finest. Chassis 130885 is one of the last produced before introduction of the 540 K, and it boasts several transitional styling features, including 540 K-style bumpers, hood grilles, and fender lights, while retaining the aesthetic lightness of 500 K coachwork. It was additionally fitted with metal spare tire covers and brightwork adorning the lower edge of the front fender skirts.
While the provenance of many prewar Mercedes-Benz cars is not well documented, that of 130885 is very well known. A copy of its factory kommission paper shows it as one of a handful delivered through the US distributor Mitropa Motors of New York, and its accompanying Mercedes-Benz Classic Certificate identifies the original color as black. This 500 K is believed by the consignor to be the only example retaining a copy of the original sales order from Mitropa to its first owner, Vincent H. Borsodi of Houston. An executive with the Gulf Oil Company, he purchased the Mercedes-Benz on June 25, 1936, for $9,800; a trade-in allowance of $4,000 was made against a 1935 Packard LeBaron Speedster. The Mercedes was likely intended for Mr. Borsodi’s son, Vincent Jr., then a New York resident. In 1939, it was advertised in The New York Times by L.F. Jacod & Company, the timing of which coincides with the younger Borsodi’s marriage and return to Houston.
In 1944, the 500 K surfaced in California, making a cameo film appearance, with stills showing the car’s distinctive features. Possibly owned in this period by Pacific Auto Rentals, it was available for rental circa 1946 by famed Mercedes-Benz mechanic, Joe Reindl. Photographs of the car from this period show it to have remained well cared-for, as it graced concours d’elegance in Southern California in 1951 and 1953.
An article in The Star magazine of the Mercedes-Benz Club of America recounts how William and Frances Cockrane of San Diego acquired the car in 1956. By 1986, it was in the hands of Jack Rowe of Denver, who spent two years performing a careful body-off restoration. Rowe later sold the car to the Blackhawk Collection, from which it was purchased by the current owner in 2001.
Since its most recent acquisition, the car has received an atypical level of care and attention, as shown by $300,000 in receipts for significant freshening and subsequent maintenance. Having known supercharged Mercedes-Benz cars since childhood, the current owner has ensured that this one has been maintained as very few of these cars are, providing an exciting opportunity to experience the true power and performance of the supercharged eight-cylinder Mercedes-Benz.
Further, the consignor notes that the 500 K retains its original, matching-numbers engine, body and chassis numbers, as well as the original factory typenschild (data plate). Accompanying this Mercedes-Benz is a thick binder of receipts and documentation covering the car’s life since 1936, a thorough 20-page research report by a highly respected classic car historian, as well as a jack, top boot, and owner’s manual.
With desirable attributes including left-hand drive, US-delivery, and unique specification, to find a 500 K as lovingly documented and maintained as this car is a truly remarkable experience, nearly impossible to duplicate in the rarefied world of kompressor Mercedes-Benz.