The classic Mercedes-Benz is usually considered one of the cabriolets or roadsters from Daimler-Benz's own coachwork department at Sindelfingen. However, a number of custom coachbuilders were also commissioned to mount bespoke coachwork on Mercedes-Benz chassis, among them Erdmann & Rossi, Gläser, Reutter, Saoutchik, Castagna, Freestone & Webb and even California's Walter M. Murphy Co.
One of the rarest coachbuilders whose work may be found on the 500K chassis was the renowned English firm, Corsica. Charles Stammers and his brothers-in-law Joseph and Robert Lee established the Corsica coachworks at Kings Cross, London, in 1920. Never large, the firm was unique in simplifying the coachbuilding process. While they claimed that their clients designed their own cars, examination of their work proves this to be unlikely.
Given the prominent nature of the prewar Mercedes-Benz firm, it is surprising that only a handful of them received coachwork from this innovative London coachbuilder. Sadly, the death of two of Corsica's founders during World War II forced its closure, never to re-open.
The Corsica-bodied 500K drophead Coupe pictured here has been featured in many books, magazines, and calendars over the past three decades. Its ownership history is complete and dates back to 1935, when purchased new by Sir Max Aitken, and registered as BXN 134. Interestingly, the handsome 500K was owned by Herr Schultz, the German Ambassador to Great Britain in 1938, before the car found its way to the United States in 1939, joining the collection of D. Cameron Peck of Chicago, one of the best known pioneer collectors of important automobiles. Later, the car passed through several more owners, each of whom cared for it well, attending to its needs. The car received an engine rebuild in 1959, performed by a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania-based Mercedes-Benz dealer, a new folding top in 1968, and it was mechanically and cosmetically restored in 1969. In 1993, this lovely Mercedes-Benz was once again restored as needed, before its exhibition at the prestigious Meadow Brook Concours d'Elegance in 1995. Shortly after, the owner placed the car on long-term loan to the Classic Car Exhibit at the well-known Auburn-Cord-Duesenberg Museum, in Auburn, Indiana.
The Corsica Drophead Coupe body lends an interesting and quite British elegance to the German chassis, which is refreshing to see when compared to the German coachwork more commonly fitted. The overall effect is very pleasant, and results in a remarkably beautiful automobile with legendary performance and an interesting history.
Source: RM Auctions.
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