A 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahnkurier — or rather, the 540K Autobahnkurier — has taken top honors today at the 70th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. The vehicle, owned by collectors Arturo and Deborah Keller, is no stranger to the winner’s circle. In fact, a quick Google search will turn up several past trophies awarded to this striking black coupe, including a best-in-show at the 2019 Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance.
This elegant Benz was shown in concept form in 1934 at the Berlin Motor Show. A second example was built on the pre-war chassis, powered by a 5.4-liter straight-eight-cylinder engine, and sold to Spanish professor Ignacio Barraquer. This is that car, having been acquired from the Barraquer family in 2004 and completely restored. It was shown at Pebble Beach in 2006 and nominated for the top award, but while it took home a trophy as the most elegant closed car, it did not earn the coveted best-of-show. That has now been rectified.
As its name implies, the Autobahnkurier was build to travel at high speed on German highways. Its engine produces 180 horsepower, sufficient to push the streamlined coupe to a top speed of 115 miles per hour. The example seen here is the only one like it in existence.