1928 Mercedes-Benz Model 630K Tourer Coachwork by Erdmann & Rossi Chassis no. 35407 Engine no. 68580
At the end of The Great War, both Daimler and Benz went back to producing cars. Trading conditions in the early 1920s though, were extremely difficult: the War had left Germany's economy in ruins and there was rampant inflation. Of the 86 German car factories operating in 1924, only 19 were in existence three years later. If the two great rivals were to survive, it would have to be in partnership. On 1st July 1926, Daimler and Benz completed their merger, the two companies having paved the way with a technical co-operation agreement in 1924. By this time, Paul Daimler, founder Gottlieb's son and the company's Chief Engineer, had moved to Horch, his place being taken by Professor Ferdinand Porsche. Like his predecessor, Porsche was an advocate of forced induction and although he would leave Daimler-Benz in 1928, his legacy was a range of supercharged Mercedes cars that are the stuff of legend.
Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft had introduced the world's first supercharged production cars, the 6/25/40hp and 10/40/65hp four-cylinder models, at the 1921 Berlin Automobile Show. (The three figures refer to nominal rated horsepower, horsepower un-blown and horsepower with blower engaged respectively). On his arrival early in 1923, Porsche busied himself further developing the blown four and eight-cylinder racers designed by Paul Daimler, and the 15/70/100hp and 24/100/140hp supercharged, six-cylinder production models that would debut at the Berlin Automobile Show in 1924. After the 1926 merger these were reclassified as types 400 and 630. That same year a 'K' (Kurz = Short) version became available for the first time, on a wheelbase reduced from 12' 4" to 11' 2" (3,750 to 3,400mm). Displacing 6.3 litres, the 630K's single-overhead-camshaft six-cylinder engine produced a mighty 140PS (138bhp) with the Roots supercharger engaged (by pressing the throttle pedal to the floor) and in this specification the 630K could justifiably claim to be the world's fastest production touring car, with a top speed of over 90mph (145km/h).
Affordable by only the wealthiest of connoisseurs, the Model K was produced in strictly limited numbers, only 267 of all types being completed between 1926 and 1932. In Germany these would have been bodied by the likes of Erdmann & Rossi, Reuter, Papler, Zschau and Balzer while others were fitted with 'factory' coachwork by Sindelfingen. Some chassis found owners in the USA and were bodied there but the rarest Model Ks are those few completed in Italy with coachwork by Stabilimenti Farina or Carrozzeria Castagna.
The 630K tourer offered here, chassis number '35407', was built to commission number '37832' and delivered to the Erdmann & Rossi coachworks in April 1928 to be fitted with a sports tourer body. Ranked among the elite of European coachbuilders, Berlin-based Erdmann & Rossi specialised in bodying prestige makes including Horch, Maybach, Packard, Cadillac, Bentley, Rolls-Royce (they were Germany's official importer) and, of course, Mercedes-Benz. Their distinguished clientele included European royalty, industrialists, actors, pilots and racing drivers. In November 1929 the completed car was delivered to Mercedes-Benz Co Inc, the Mercedes-Benz distributor in the USA, for one Jerome R Gamble of Los Angeles, California. Bonhams is grateful to Mercedes-Benz for providing the foregoing information from the factory records, which sadly do not account for the 18-month gap between delivery to Erdmann & Rossi and the car's arrival in the USA. At time of cataloguing no further information was to hand concerning its current mechanical condition or subsequent history, apart from the fact that the current owner purchased the car from the Mercedes-Benz Classic Centre in Stuttgart in December 2006, since when it has formed part of his important private collection.
Apparently remarkably complete and original, '35407' is finished in maroon with matching leather upholstery, the latter featuring re-covered front seat squabs, while the beige cloth convertible hood is contained in a maroon leather bag. The wooden dashboard boasts a full complement of Mercedes-Benz instruments while other noteworthy features include Art Deco style interior lights, twin side-mounted spare wheels, side exit exhausts, Carl Zeiss headlamps, an adjustable spotlight, split-rim wheels and a rear luggage rack complete with trunk by F Waldbauer of Stuttgart. The supercharger is in place beneath the bonnet and there is a box of tools in the trunk.