A one-of-a-kind left-hand drive Mercedes-Benz W124 A320 Cabriolet will attract International interest at this year’s Melbourne International Motor Show auction in Australia on March 12.
Auction house Shannons says the 5.5-metre long car is believed to be the only one built.
It has a 3.4-litre six-cylinder engine and full coil spring independent suspension. It was built by Daimler-Benz around 1948 as a design study for a future luxury cabriolet.
As the company then had only just restarted production after the devastation of World War 2, the caremployed the 59kW side-valve engine and several other mechanical components from the last of the W142 long wheelbase Mercedes-Benz luxury cars built from 1937 until the continuing war and factory damage halted production in 1942.
However the evolution of the much more modern single overhead camshaft engine and other technical developments that materialised in the A300 (Adenauer) saloon of 1950, rendered the cabriolet design study redundant and the vehicle was sold to a Dutch businessman and shipped to Indonesia.
It remained in Indonesia for almost 40 years before being discovered by accident by an Australian enthusiast and brought to Melbourne in the late 1980s.
It arrived in very poor condition, badly painted in Post Office red and didn’t go, but an inspection by visiting Mercedes-Benz Museum head Max-Gerritt von Pein confirmed its pedigree and spurred its total restoration.
von Pein was amazed that not only had the vehicle survived, but that it was in basically its original condition.
The work to bring the cabriolet back to its factory design study originality involved a full strip-down to the bare chassis, during which clues to the car’s original two-tone blue paintwork were found under the door hinges and the vinyl trim covering the original matching two-colour leather trim was removed.
Using local Melbourne tradesmen and specialists, the rare vehicle has now been totally refurbished bodily and mechanically to as close to its original specification as possible. The work was completed early last year.
Shannons expects bids in the $AU450,000 to $600,000 range at the Melbourne Exhibition Centre Monday, March 12.