November 8, 2009

Rare Cars: Mercedes-benz A 320 – W 142

Finding a bargain at auction is one of the reasons auctions are so popular. One never knows if the ultimate find will be a dress worn by Jackie Kennedy or a Tiffany lamp hidden under years of dirt, rust and neglect. One of the grandest finds in automobile history was the discovery of a 1948 Mercedes Benz A320-W142 Cabriolet in Indonesia by a car enthusiast in the late ’80s.

Painted Post Office Red’ and worse for wear after 40 years of neglect, the non-running Cabriolet was shipped to Melbourne for authentic verification and an extensive restoration. Famed Mercedes Benz Museum Head Max- Gerrit von Pein performed the authentication of the rare Mercedes Benz A 320 Cabriolet. He was amazed that through the paint and vinyl overlays over the original leather, the car was still the Cabriolet prototype. Thought to be the only one in existence today, the Mercedes Benz A320 – W142 Cabriolet sold for a bargain price of $275,000 at the 2007 Melbourne International Auto Show Auction. It is the only one of its kind – making it one of the rarest cars in the world.

This lovely piece of automobile history was built in 1948 as a design study for future Cabriolet models. The design was taken on after reconstruction of German Mercedes Benz manufacturing following World War II. Due to the single overhead camshaft engine included in this model, the future Cabriolet production became obsolete and the design was tabled. The concept vehicle was eventually sold to a Dutch businessman. The car somehow ended up in Indonesia and wouldn’t gain attention again until was discovered 40 years later. Why it was repainted and neglected the auto world will never know, but its renovation has restored the rare car to its factory-designed elegance. The two-tone blue paintwork and matching leather interior are completely authentic, and when the driver opens the suicide-door to slip into the driver’s seat, the retro feel is palpable. The unique Mercedes Benz A320 is equipped with a 3.4-liter, 6-cylinder side valve engine and a gearbox, and includes an independent coil suspension on both the front and rear wheels.

Undoubtedly, this car is the rarest of all known production model cars in existence. And the fact that it was built by the first car maker in the world – Mercedes Benz – makes it all the more valuable and unique. Although there are undoubtedly many rare cars that are much more expensive and highly sought after, for car collectors who want one of a kind, the Mercedes Benz A 320 W 142 Cabriolet is the crown jewel of rare cars.