You’ll never guess the make of this car…

You’ll never guess the make of this car…

Don’t peek! This sleek convertible was built in 1950 on a pre-war chassis. It is to be sold in the Techno Classica Auction of RM Sotheby’s on April 12 in Essen, Germany. But what make is it?

Is it British or could it be German? Or American perhaps? The curved wings even look a bit eastern-European. And it is a pretty big car too, quite long. It certainly looks to be in pristine condition. Have you figured it out yet?

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OK, we can tell you now that this car is a… Mercedes-Benz. To be precise it is a Mercedes 320 chassis, dating from 1937. The body was built in 1950, a time when there was still a great shortage of motor vehicles in Europe.

Coachbuilder Wendler in the German town of Reutlingen got his fair share of fame by building the bodies fort he Porsche 550. They did some more Porsches, like R60’s and R61’s and they even built a four-seater coupé based on a Porsche 356.

Ponton-body
But before all that, Wendler built a number of convertibles in 1950. It is believed that there are four of these cars, all with a different body, like this one for example. But the blue one in the RM Sotheby’s sale does stand out because of the central headlight and the side door for the spare wheel.
And yet, it does not look like a Mercedes-Benz at all. Before 1940 it was normal that a coachbuilder would create a body on an existing chassis, but the front of the car, especially the grille, would remain untouched. Around 1950 though, the ponton-body was introduced, and on many new cars, there was no separate hood-and-grill anymore.

Of course, in 1950 Mercedes-Benz were still building their prewar-shaped 170V and 170S-models, the first Mercedes ponton-model would be introduced three years later.
When building this convertible car, Wendler was actually ahead of his time, creating probably the first, or one of the first pontoon bodies on a Mercedes chassis. It looks like Wendler figured that like so many other car makes, Mercedes-Benz would also say farewell to the vertical radiator-grille. And so the recognisable Mercedes-front was replaced by this amorphous front end.

Foto’s: Dirk de Jager, RM Sotheby’s

Two owners
The result of Wendler’s work is a cart hat does not look like a Mercedes-Benz at all. In fact, it is not a very good looking car, and the styling is not distinctive at all.
But that did not prevent it from being loved. RM Sotheby’s reports that the car has since 1950 known only two (2!) owners. One of them had the car fully restored in the 1980s. This restoration has been pretty good, as the car still looks immaculate today. It is in good running order and ready to go for a spin.
The car is to be sold at Techno Classica in Essen, in RM Sotheby’s auction. The value is estimated between € 110.000 and € 160.000.

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