A rare 1936 Mercedes-Benz 540k Special Roadster saw the highest bids at the long-awaited Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance 2012 in California this weekend (August 17-19).
Despite no estimate being revealed by the auction house prior to the sale, expectant collectors had hoped the car would top the $16.4m record currently held by a 1957 Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa prototype to become the world's second most valuable car. Unfortunately, in front of a packed tent and after receiving a great cheer from the crowd, it fell short of the mark at $11.7m.
The Special Roadster is one of just 30 built to Mercedes' top-end specifications and is one of just a few of its kind in existence. Boasting its matching numbers engine and chassis, it was presented in original, as delivered appearance and is considered the finest of its kind.
The Mercedes' value was also boosted by its fascinating provenance, having been owned by the glamorous Baroness Gisela Von Kreiger, a European socialite who was once named among the top 10 most fashionable women in the world. After making great efforts to save the car from destruction in the war, Von Kreiger kept it in storage until her death in 1989. It has had just one owner since.
A similar 1937 Mercedes 540k was sold through the same auction house at last year's show for $9.7m.
Paul Fraser Collectibles provides the best up to date coverage from the classic car collecting world, as well as great investment tips to help you improve your collection. Our fantastic selection of racing memorabilia, such as this Jim Clark signed Scottish Motor Racing Club menu, adds vital diversity to any portfolio.
The classic car market is performing well so far in 2012. The HAGI Top 50 Index has grown by 10.33% in the first-half of the year - a comfortable lead over the S&P Global 1200 Index's 4.54% gain.