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Erdmann & Rossi Mercedes 540K Sports Cabriolet 1935
Erdmann & Rossi Mercedes 540K Sports Cabriolet 1935
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In 1935 the German company was commissioned to build a 5.4-liter Mercedes 540K (order #2698 of 5 December 1935, engine #123705) for no less a client than King Ghazi of Iraq.

In 1933, at the age of 21, Ghazi had succeeded his father on the throne. Unfortunately, the reign of the young king was short-lived; he died in a motoring accident only six years later in 1939. It is not known what car he was driving at the time.

The unique 'Sports Cabriolet' came with single headlights and closed spats. It was delivered to the Daimler Benz headquarters for onward shipment to their illustrious client.

The car had been on display for several years in a museum displaying Iraqi "cars of state". At that time, the Erdmann & Rossi 540K Mercedes was painted cream with dark green accents.

Johannes Beeskow, former design chief, explains in an article about Erdmann & Rossi:
Mercedes commissioned a show car from us for the 1935 Barcelona exhibition. One of the visitors was the King of Iraq. He expressed his desire to buy the car but the Mercedes people said he could not have it because it was only powered by a 2.9 liter engine; however, they added that he could have an identical car powered by the 5.4 liter motor with compressor (the renowned 540K). The King accepted their offer and so we rebuilt the same car but with the 5.4 liter engine. The Kings coat of arms was painted on the doors before it was shipped to Iraq.

When the Gulf war broke out, I thought to myself there can be nothing left of the car now. To my great astonishment the car surfaced again; in the interim, it had gone to Jordan, at a time when the two countries were on friendly terms. King Hussein of Jordan, an auto buff, had it stripped of its paint then shipped to Germany in 1986 for a full restoration.

In 2002, the car was believed to be back in Jordan, looking just as it did back in 1935. In 2008, Oliver Kossatz told me that King Ghazi's custom Mercedes 540K was on display in a German Mercedes dealership.

Somehow it survived the last war and recently it was found in a hidden car park, several levels under the streets of central Baghdad. 

According to recent research the correct model type should be "500K" instead of "540K" (see article).


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