Rare 1905 Mercedes Simplex 28/32 Phaeton Headed to Auction | Edmunds

Rare 1905 Mercedes Simplex 28/32 Phaeton Headed to Auction


Just the Facts:
  • A 1905 Mercedes Simplex 28/32 Phaeton, is being put up for auction in London on December 3.
  • One of the oldest surviving Mercedes-Benz cars in the world, the 1905 Mercedes Simplex will be sold at the 28th annual Coys True Greats auction.
  • Coys has not disclosed a sales estimate for the car.

LONDON — One of the oldest surviving Mercedes-Benz cars in the world, a 1905 Mercedes Simplex 28/32 Phaeton, is being put up for sale as part of the 28th annual Coys True Greats auction on December 3. Coys has not disclosed a sales estimate for the car.

"It is amazing to have a car that is nearly 110 years old that is so big, magnificent and powerful," said Chris Routledge, managing partner of Coys, in a statement. "It has the most imposing presence and is such an important piece of early motoring history. Many cars of this period were glorified motorized tricycles, but this represents the ultimate in Edwardian super-technology."

The 1905 Mercedes Simplex belied its considerable bulk with surprisingly good handling and balance, partly due to the unique placement of the engine low between the front chassis rails. Powered by a huge 5.3-liter four-cylinder engine developing 32 horsepower and driven by a four-speed manual transmission, the 2,756-pound car could achieve a top speed of about 37 mph, very respectable for a touring car at that time.

The Phaeton's interior features individual bucket seats for the driver and front passenger, who remain exposed to the elements, while a retractable "Victoria" top provides at least minimal protection for those in the rear bench seat. The exterior is dominated by enormous brass headlights and coach lamps, wooden artillery wheels and prominent front leaf springs.

As part of an aggressive marketing campaign that would make Mercedes one of the earliest European automakers to export extensively to North America, the Mercedes Simplex was delivered to the U.S. in the late summer of 1905.

The car would remain in America for the better part of a century, eventually entering the collection of Arturo Keller, proprietor of the Keller Estate Winery of Napa, California. Keller, who also owns what is believed to be the oldest surviving roadworthy Mercedes in existence, a 1902 40-hp Simplex, is well known for the outstanding vehicles he has entered in concours events worldwide, including multiple wins at Pebble Beach.

During Keller's ownership, the 1905 Mercedes Simplex underwent a thorough restoration to original condition, both mechanically and cosmetically. After being returned to Germany about 10 years ago, it was entered in numerous European concours and driving events. This is the first time in the car's history that it has been put up for auction.

Edmunds says: Although rare and historically significant, this vehicle is in roadworthy condition and should rightfully end up in the collection of an owner who will continue to exercise it regularly.

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