Classic Van Auction Talk

Wednesday 25 March 2015

1931 Mercedes-Benz 15/75 PS Mannheim 370 S - Bonhams, Stuttgart Sale 28-03-15

28th MARCH 2015
Single family ownership since 1978,1931 Mercedes-Benz 15/75 PS Mannheim 370 S Roadster  Chassis no. U 83903 Engine no. U 83903
 1931 Mercedes-Benz 15/75 PS Mannheim 370 S
Chassis no. U 83903
Engine no. U 83903
Following the merger of Daimler and Benz in June 1926, Hans Nibel, creator of the legendary 200 horsepower 'Blitzen Benz', took over sole responsibility as Technical Director on 1st January 1929, having shared the post with Ferdinand Porsche since the two companies' amalgamation.
Although the firm's large supercharged models attracted the headlines, the 'bread-and-butter' Stuttgart was of far greater commercial importance, and it was Porsche's perceived failure to get it right that contributed to his resignation in 1928. Revised by Nibel after Porsche's departure, the Stuttgart in its many forms would go on to become the backbone of Mercedes-Benz production and a huge success. Nibel also improved another of Porsche's designs, the mid/upper range Mercedes-Benz 300, which had been introduced at the 1926 Berlin Motor Show. Massive and lumbering, the 300 was extensively revised by Nibel, emerging smaller, lighter and with more attractive styling. Given the name 'Mannheim', this new model was built as the 350 (3.5-litre, 14/70PS), the 370 (3.7-litre, 15/75PS) and the 370 S (3,7 Liter, 15/75 hp) as well as the 370 K (3.7 litre, 15/75 hp short wheel base)

A well-engineered car, the Mannheim nevertheless represented the last of the old technology rather than the first of the new. A six-cylinder, seven-bearing sidevalve engine provided the power, while the channel-section chassis featured live axles, semi-elliptical springs and cable brakes. The gearbox was a three-speed unit with floor change; the radiator was flat-fronted and the steel wheels were of the artillery type. Top speed of the 370 model was in the region of 100km/h (62mph). Featuring coachwork by Sindelfingen, the Mannheim was manufactured in a wide variety of forms including saloons, cabriolets and a roadster. Total production of the Mannheim had amounted to 1,896 cars when the model was superseded in 1933, only 195 of which were 370 S models like that offered here.
Only produced as a roadster or cabriolet, the 370/380 S represents the Mannheim in its ultimate form, boasting a shortened chassis, twin-carburettor engine, overdrive gearbox, pointed radiator and wire wheels. Top speed of these models was in the region of 130km/h (80mph). This particular example was first owned by Union Automobil GmbH in Berlin and then by an architect in Stuttgart. Its third owner was a cinema manager and its the fourth a film producer in Bavaria. The current owners discovered the Mannheim in the mid-1960s. They had just finished restoring another 370 S and were told about this car, which was stored in a garage next to a film studio. (The number plates from their first 370 S are currently on this one). After some 13 years of trying they finally managed to buy it in 1978.

A 'frame off' restoration was commenced in 1985 in the course of which a new fuel tank was made in stainless steel, the lighting and interior leather restored, and the woodwork and electrics renewed. Otherwise the car remains outstandingly original, its rust-free body having required no welding (see photographic record on file). One particularly noteworthy feature is this car's shallow windscreen, which is 11cm shorter than those of other cars in this series, and contributes to its sporting appearance. The restoration was finished in 2000, since when the car has been driven only some 300-500 kilometres, remaining on display in the vendors' garage at other times. Originally black but strikingly refinished in two-tone white/red with red leather interior, '83903' represents a wonderful opportunity to acquire one of these rare Mannheim sports cars. 

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