Following a tradition which had been established before World War II, Mercedes' post-war, entry-level models offered a level of sophistication in engineering nearly equal to that of the largest cars. The basic design of the 170 model dated back to 1931, and it was still suitable some 20 years later. Indeed, the 170 would remain in production, in all of its variations, until 1955.
This extraordinary, special example, a one-off coupé ordered by Dr. Wilhelm Manchot a German chemist working for Henkel & Cie GmbH, an industrial firm based in Düsseldorf. Dr. Manchot became a general manager of the firm in 1939, and he was also on the board of directors of Henkel & Cie AG. This Mercedes is believed to be a company car, as delivery was made to Henkel & Cie.
This car was built as a cabriolet on 30 April 1951, and it was immediately taken to coachbuilder Hebmüller to be converted into a coupé with a sunroof, because Dr. Manchot preferred a closed car to protect him from wind. Interestingly, it is known that this same sort of conversation was done by by Hebmüller for the Henkel family on an earlier 540 K. It has been surmised that, in this case, the top was likely provided by Mercedes-Benz. It would have been a piece similar to that used on other one-offs built for Mercedes-Benz executives at the time, and it was similar to those that would ultimately be used on the production 220 coupés from 1954-1955.
This outstanding car was originally finished in dark blue with grey leather upholstery and rosewood trim. The build sheet also has a number of notations that indicate that it was an extremely specialised delivery. The coupé was first registered for the road in 1951, and it stayed with Dr. Manchot until it was passed to Dr. Eric Maret of Hamburg. In 1955 the car would be with several more owners, all in Hamburg, through 1970.
For an early post-war vehicle, Dr. Manchot´s Mercedes was recognized as a collectible relatively early on in its life. It received a body-off restoration between 1986 and 1998. In September 2013 the car was sold in an auction at Sotheby´s London. (KH)