A rare supercharged 1926 MERCEDES-BENZ 24/100/140 PS MODEL K La Baule Transformable Coachwork by Jacques Saoutchik Chassis no. 35426 Engine no. 60616
6,240 cc SOHC Inline 6-cylinder Engine 100 bhp at 3,100 rpm, 140 bhp with compressor engaged 4-speed Manual Transmission 4-wheel Leaf Spring Suspension 4-wheel Mechanical Drum Brakes
•Exquiste and rare coachwork by one of the world's most coveted coachbuilders •Sumptuous La Baule-style body is a signature Saoutchik design •High-quality restoration that presents well •Legendary supercharged Mercedes chassis developed by Ferdinand Porsche
The Model: Daimler introduced its Mercedes 24/100/140 PS model in 1924. The number 24 indicated taxable horsepower, 100 the output of the engine in normally aspirated use and 140 when the supercharger was engaged for short periods of time. In 1926, Daimler merged with Benz & Cie to create Mercedes-Benz, and the model survived the merger. Renamed the Type 630, it continued in production until 1929. It was a long, massive, powerful, fast and very expensive chassis that more than held its own in comparison with other top chassis of the time.
There were good reasons for the mechanical and technical superiority of the model. Technical Director Paul Daimler had left the company in 1922, and in April 1923, a certain Dr. Ferdinand Porsche arrived from Austria to finish development of Daimler's new top-of-the-market model. The result was a technical tour de force that humbled most efforts by other luxury car makers, not only on the spec sheet, but even more so on the road.
Other motorists quickly learned to fear the screech of the Mercedes compressor as it kicked in, and the Model K became the preferred means of fast transportation for the most wealthy on the planet who added bespoke coachwork by the most exclusive coachbuilders in the world. As a result, it was hard to find a more costly and lavish automobile, and in five years, total production amounted to no more than 572 chassis, all versions included.
The Coachbuilder: Jacques Saoutchik opened his carrosserie in 1906 and quickly became one of the most exclusive coachbuilders – first in Paris, then France and finally the world. The rich, the famous and the powerful paid expensive visits to the master in the rue Jacques Dulud in Neuilly, the center of French coachbuilding just outside of Paris. Saoutchik soon developed unique and recognizable styles which while distinct, shared one common trait: they were always the very last word in chic and high style. At the same time, Saoutchik bodies were noted for an almost excessive quality of workmanship and the beauty of the interior marquetry. After the First World War, Saoutchik developed and patented elegant convertible top mechanisms, including tops that disappeared completely into the bodywork.
It all came together with the beautiful La Baule bodystyle introduced by Saoutchik in 1926 and named after the seaside resort town on the northwest Atlantic coast of France where important concours d'élégances were held from 1924. It was one of the most innovative, successful and dramatic designs in the late 1920s Saoutchik portfolio, and in spite of its great cost, La Baule cabriolets were built on a number of luxury chassis, including Minerva, Isotta Fraschini, Rolls-Royce and Mercedes. Signature Saoutchik styling clues included the completely disappearing top mechanism and the exquisite use of brightwork.
However, the most startling stylistic innovation was Saoutchik's creative use of a wide beltline which followed the curvature of the bobtail rear deck – in combination with a resurrection of the fiacre coachline dating back to horseless carriage days, running in a delicate sweep down the side of the cowl from the windshield pillar to the chassis apron. Saoutchik used this inspired styling cue on a number of designs, but it worked best on the La Baule. As a result, from the 1926 season, Saoutchik became such a regular winner of the Grand Prix at all the French concours d'élégance, that some of his competitors must have felt it was hardly worthwhile to enter.
This car: Chassis 35426, with Kommissionsnummer 38510, remained unsold for close to two years and finally shipped to Saoutchik on 16 May 1928. The body was finished in the following weeks and the completed car was exported immediately to New York where it sold from the Mercedes-Benz dealership on 7 November 1928. In the 1970s, the car was bought by the noted collector Gerald Rolph, who performed a restoration which still presents beautifully. It was sold to the present owner in 2007, who commissioned an update of the livery to its present arresting two-tone green.
At some point, the first engine in chassis 35426 was replaced with a period 630 engine with number 60616, originally mounted in a standard 24/100/140 hp Mercedes-Benz 630 chassis with 3.75 meter wheelbase. The latter chassis was fitted with a Hibbard & Darrin cabriolet body, and delivered to New York in October 1928. For this reason, chassis 35426 cannot be deemed a numbers matching example today. When it was fitted, the replacement engine was converted to correct period Model K dual ignition specification, so that it is now a period correct power unit for chassis 35426.
It is a rare occasion when a chassis with Saoutchik La Baule coachwork is offered. It is an even rarer occasion when this coveted bodystyle is mounted on an impressive supercharged Mercedes chassis. The La Baule design contained all the quintessential late 1920s Saoutchik design elements and demonstrated a superb harmony of line, despite the complexity of its side treatment. The Mercedes chassis was developed by none other than a young Ferdinand Porsche and was mechanically at the cutting edge of 1920s large car technology. Add the undeniable wow-factor of this superb French creation to the mix. From a collector point of view, the combination is simply unbeatable. It is not often that one can have one's cake and eat it.