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Mercedes 150 Sport Roadster: one like no other - mid-engine one-off

Mercedes 150 Sport Roadster
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S a silhouette is unique, as is the mid-engine concept. Just like many other car manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz was looking for a new direction shortly before the Second World War. The economy was doing badly, the purchases were lagging around; the cars were big and expensive.

Only a single Mercedes 150 Sport Roadster is said to have survived

After the success of the 2,000-kilometer drive in 1934, the call for a real sports car was loud. When looking for a suitable basic model, the engineers quickly found it. The basic structure of the elegant Mercedes 150 sports sedan quickly became a technical platform for the 150 sports roadster. It celebrated its public premiere at the International Automobile and Motorcycle Exhibition (IAMA) in Berlin in 1935.

It is still uncertain how many vehicles of the open 150 series there actually were. You see, hardly more than a handful of 150 sports roadsters have left the Sindelfingen production halls. Today there is probably only one roadster from the rare W 30 series.

The pithy red sports car is visiting the sunny California paradise abroad. Today it would be worth more than a million euros - maybe significantly more. 'It's always difficult to say with a one-off item like the Sportroadster,' explains Michael Kunz, Head of the Mercedes Classic Center in Irvine.

The Mercedes 150 Sportroadster is offered at the 1935 IAMA for 6,600 Reichsmarks

One press of the black start button on the smart dashboard - nothing happens. Nate Landers shakes his head and takes the screwdriver from the right of the two glove compartments, gets out and opens the never-ending bonnet behind the seats. 'Then we'll just do it the traditional way again,' grumbles the 27-year-old, who lost his heart to the classic cars at Mercedes-Benz almost ten years ago. Since then he has been the virtuoso hobbyist at the Mercedes Classic Center Irvine, around half an hour south of Los Angeles.

Nate Landers knows the 150 like the back of his hand: '' I last spent 31 days in a row with this Mercedes 150. The car has not been moved since the 1940s. 'It was one of the most complex projects that the Mercedes Classic Center had to tackle since it opened five years ago.' We assume that this roadster was formerly a sedan, which was then converted into a roadster, 'says MichaelKunz, 'the car has been in the Mercedes Museum since 1949.'

Back on the road after 60 years in the Mercedes-Benz Museum

The result of the technical restoration can be seen see and let go. After a little clearing of the throat during the manual start process in the rear of the car, the 150 Sport Roadster no longer shows any weaknesses. The design with the three headlights that are just as attractive as they are faint, the arrow-shaped windshield and the gracefully curved fenders are a real show. Where could it fit better than in the south of California?

The 150 Sportroadster is a visual temptation like few at Mercedes. The tapered stern of the boat with the two backlit license plates makes it unique at Mercedes. The Mercedes star at the front stands confidently free above the unmistakable face with the three headlight eyes. Between the doors that open in opposite directions and the two rear fenders there are not very decorative spare tires. At the time it was always practical, but a visual disparagement of the filigree sun worshiper.

Sport Roadster with high speed autobahn

The German Sun King is powered by a 1.5-liter four-cylinder in-line engine with a meager 40 KW /55 PS. That was enough for a top speed of 125 km /h in 1934/35. The fact that the sales brochure in the mid-30s speaks of a 'classy sports car' with an excellent power-to-weight ratio appears to be slightly glorified 70 years later, but probably in keeping with the times. After all, one horsepower only had to move 19 kilograms. An impressive figure in the 1930s.

The engine is not located at the front as usual, but in a central construction behind the two seats. Even by today's standards, the Mercedes 150 Sportroadster is fast on the road. The robust engine sound initially suggests a three-cylinder; but in the mid-1930s, four combustion chambers were a surprise. There are three normal gears and one high speed gear that does not have to be engaged for fast motorway journeys. After turning out third gear, simply shift into fourth, briefly take off the gas and the high-speed autobahn gear is automatically engaged as if by magic. For uphill rides, it is better to switch back to third gear using the same procedure. The small four-cylinder has nothing to add up the slope in overdrive.

In California you don't need a roof for the Sport Roadster

The interior is completely lined with black leather. Not only the seats, but also the top of the dashboard and the door panels make it as comfortable as possible for the two occupants in a small space. The condition of the vehicle is not perfect, but exemplary, even though no restoration work was done here. Here in Orange County, California, rainy days are as rare as a warm Pacific.Therefore, there is no urge to put the rain cap on the 150. 'We don't have a roof or roof bars for the sports roadster,' laughs Michael Kunz, Head of the Classic Center, 'but that shouldn't be a problem today. It stays dry.'

Nate Landers is also the restoration sponsor Michael Kunz proud that the open 150 runs so smoothly: 'We have worked completely on the car in the last two and a half months. The car is running really well.' One can only hope that he does not have to go back to the museum but is allowed to go out on the streets regularly. It doesn't always have to be Orange County.

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