The 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier Named Best of Show at the 70th Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance
Long recognized as a superlative showcase of automotive history, the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance made history of its own at the culmination of its 70th celebration: a total of 38 former Best of Show cars were on hand to welcome a new winner to their ranks.
This year, 230 collector cars pulled onto the competition field of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, and the car named Best of Show was the 1938 Mercedes-Benz 540K Autobahn Kurier belonging to The Keller Collection at The Pyramids in Petaluma, California.
“This Best of Show winner embodies so many sensational features—styling, speed, and performance. Unveiled at the Berlin Auto Show and built to rule the new German Autobahn in 1938, this rare automobile is truly an example of beautiful German design,” said Concours Chairman Sandra Button.
When introduced, this 540K was applauded not only for its long, sweeping hood and aerodynamic design, echoing the legendary Silver Arrow Grand Prix cars, but also for its advanced engineering and superlative performance. Autobahn Kurier means “Highway Kurier” and references a period of German excellence beginning in the 1920s that culminated in the construction of the famous network of motorways. Mercedes made only two 540K Autobahn Kuriers, and this is the only one still in existence and still sporting its original equipment. This is the Kellers’ third win at Pebble Beach, coming after a 1986 win with their 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster and a 2001 win with their 1930 Mercedes-Benz SS Erdmann & Rossi Roadster.
“It’s my triple crown,” said Arturo Keller. “This is the only remaining car of its kind, and I am the second owner from new. It’s a very special car, and we are very happy.” The car was last restored in 2006, and has continued to be shown, rallied, and toured since then. The Kellers also go home with the Elegance in Motion Trophy.
This win is the ninth for Mercedes-Benz, tying the marque with Bugatti for the most Best of Shows at Pebble Beach.
This year’s race for Best of Show featured other strong contenders, including Joanie & Scott Kriens’ 1937 Bugatti Type 57S Corsica Drophead Coupé; the 1966 Ferrari 365 P Pininfarina Berlinetta Speciale shown by RQ Collections; and Jonathan & Wendy Segal’s 1956 Maserati A6G Zagato Coupé.
The Pebble Beach Concours raised more than $1.75 million for charity this year, bringing the event’s total charitable donations to over $32 million to date. Through the Pebble Beach Company Foundation, the primary charitable partner of the Concours, these funds will benefit more than 95 local charities, impacting the lives of more than 10,000 children annually in Monterey County.
Gooding & Company, the official auction house of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance, realized more than $107 million in sales at its annual Pebble Beach Auctions this weekend. Friday evening’s auction included the world record-breaking sale of a 1995 McLaren F1, which sold for $20,465,000, and a 1959 Ferrari 250 GT LWB California Spider Competizione, which brought in $10,840,000. The auction on Saturday afternoon followed suit with its star cars, including a 1929 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix, which sold for $5,615,000, and a 1958 Ferrari 250 GT Series I Cabriolet, which achieved $4,405,000.
The 71st Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance will take place on Sunday, August 21, 2022, and will celebrate Lincoln and Talbot-Lago Grand Sport, with additional special classes to be announced soon. For more information on the Pebble Beach Concours visit www.pebblebeachconcours.net.