The winner has been named.
In a splendid celebration of automotive history, a 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster secured the prestigious Best of Show title at the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance on August 20, 2023. Owned by esteemed car collector Jim Patterson, who resides in both Louisville, Kentucky, and Palm Beach, Florida, this awe-inspiring machine is a rare gem in the automotive world.
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The 540K Special Roadster stands out for its exceptional rarity; it's one of just three Long-Tail Special Roadsters that feature a covered spare tire, according to the event's program notes. Acquired in 2022 through an RM Sotheby's auction, the car still boasts its original drivetrain, has never been restored, and shows a mere 13,000 miles on the odometer.
"When we purchased this car, we knew it was special," Patterson said, standing on the judges' podium with the trophy in hand. "It’s in impeccable condition—almost like it was untouched by time."
Bearing a high-power supercharged straight-eight engine, this particular 540K is a shining example of Streamline Moderne design, characteristic of its era. Even after acquiring this already immaculate vehicle, Patterson and his team spared no effort in perfecting it. "We reconditioned every aspect of it without having to order or fabricate any new parts," he explained.
This Mercedes-Benz fits right into the Concours d'Elegance's tradition of celebrating remarkable designs from the interwar period, commonly referred to as the Classic era. Vehicles that exude a sense of timeless elegance combined with an undercurrent of looming peril, reflecting the era leading up to World War II, have been consistently winning at Pebble Beach in recent years.
In receiving this esteemed honor, the 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster and its owner, Jim Patterson, further solidify the reputation of these iconic vehicles as not just cars, but as integral pieces of global history and art.