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Amelia Islander


Mar 02, 2016 02:00AM
RM Sotheby’s, the world’s largest collector car auction house for investment-quality automobiles, will celebrate its 18th annual sale at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance next month by lifting the gavel on more than 90 show-stopping automobiles. The carefully curated roster—a group comfortably spanning over a century of automotive styling and design—is highlighted by a number of vehicles that are no strangers to the spotlight, whether originally displayed on the motor show circuit, or included in the winner’s circle at some of the world’s most prestigious concours events—Amelia Island included. “For the collector car community, March is synonymous with the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance weekend. We’re proud to not only be the official auction house of the event, but also one of its longest running sponsors,” says Gord Duff, Car Specialist, RM Sotheby’s. “Last year’s event was certainly one for the books, launching our new partnership with Sotheby’s in spectacular fashion. 12 months on, we’ve assembled another fantastic group of automobiles with an emphasis on fresh-to-the-market, exquisitely restored examples – a great fit for the concours setting.” Top billing at this year’s RM sale goes to a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 540 K Spezial Cabriolet A, chassis no. 408371; a special one-off design that combines breathtaking lines with an exceptional provenance, highlighted by former ownership by some of the most famous names in the hobby. The earliest known post-war owner of this 540 K was American operatic tenor James Melton, widely considered as the best-known American car collector of the time. A cherished part of Melton’s collection, it is understood the Cabriolet A was regularly and extensively used by Melton, who lovingly recounted his adventures with his ‘supercharged beast’ in his 1954 autobiography, Bright Wheels Rolling. Reflective of the car’s importance in his life, even as Melton began selling his collection in the 1950s, the 540 K remained; one of the final cars in his stable, it was only sold shortly before his passing in 1961. The next renowned collector in this 540 K’s illustrious history was none other than Otis Chandler, who promptly commissioned an expert restoration, debuting the work to ‘Best of Show’ honors at the 1973 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The featured Mercedes-Benz later passed through the hands of other distinguished owners, including Axel Wars and General William Lyon, prior to landing with the current vendor two decades ago. Eye-catching in bright scarlet with tan leather upholstery and a tan cloth top, it comes to Amelia Island as the only known example of its type, certain to command strong attention from the world’s most discerning collectors (Est. $3,000,000 - $4,000,000). Jonathan Sierakowski, Car Specialist, RM Sotheby’s comments: “This car has all that a superb automobile should have: memorable lines, superb engineering and abundant power. Add in its exceptional ownership chain and its bevy of special one-off features, from the raked vee’d windshield to the louvered front hood, special fitted luggage and the five-speed transmission, a feature only seen on the later examples, and it can be rightfully considered one of the most superlative and unique 540 Ks.” For more information visit