Rare Mercedes 540 K Roadster sells for more than £5million

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An extremely rare Mercedes 540 K Special Roadster with an interesting wartime heritage has sold at auction for more than £5 million.

The 1939 5.4-litre model was offered by RM Sotherby's at its 2017 Arizona auction, which took place over January 19 and 20, and went to an unknown buyer for $6.6 million (£5.2 million).

At over 17.5ft in length, the enormous two-seater began its life in the hands of Rolf Horn, owner of one of the city's most exclusive art and interior décor boutiques in Berlin, Gebrüder Horn.

Horn had a major influence in the car's design, which retained the traditional chassis layout and basic body lines of the previous Special Roadster produced by the Sindelfingen Werk coachbuilders, but featured few typical roadster styling cues.

However, shortly after Horn took delivery of his bespoke creation, cars with high fuel consumption became impossible due to the Second World War. At this point the car was put into storage and vanished from sight.

It remained stashed away until it was discovered in Soviet-controlled East Berlin in 1949, after which it was sold in 1964 to Moscow-based translator, Alf Johansson.

Three years later Johansson smuggled it over the border into his homeland of Sweden.

Rare Mercedes 540 K Roadster sells for more than £5million

Rare Mercedes 540 K Roadster sells for more than £5million

The Special Roadster changed hands once again a decade later, this time to American collector-dealer Tom Barrett, before being passed into the well-known Lyon Family Collection, in California.

The extremely original model has since seen a loving restoration, and collected a host of trophies and awards.

A spokesman for auctioneers RM Sotheby's told the Sun: "The 540 K Special Roadster is regarded by many as the high point of the classic era among German automobiles.

"It reflected the restless pursuit of perfection by Mercedes-Benz's engineers, technicians, craftsmen, and coachbuilders.

"It is among the most instantly recognisable, valuable, and desirable of all automobiles built during the classic era, and acquiring one is an instant mark of discerning taste and prestige for any collector.

"It has a wonderful story and is an excellent restoration. We are delighted with the price it achieved."