1927 Mercedes-Benz Model K wins Best in Show at Greenwich Concours

Matt Tierney

Michael and Joannie Rich were looking for just the right car, and in the end, the right car found them. It proved to be a match made in concours heaven. The Pennsylvania couple’s one-off 1927 Mercedes-Benz Model K was chosen Best in Show at Sunday’s 25th Greenwich Concours d’Elegance, which returned to Roger Sherman Baldwin Park after a two-year hiatus.

“It came to us sort of by chance,” Michael says. “I was approached by somebody in the car world who said they had a neat car that I might be interested in. What really interested me was its Fleetwood body. Obviously, there are many coach builders, but it was from a place that’s only a half-hour down the road from us … a place I’d visited. I mean, the factory is still there. There’s a just a tremendous amount of history out of the Fleetwood factory. That’s what really attracted me to it—plus it’s the only one in existence.”

1927 Mercedes-Benz Type K - Greenwich - Full from rear passenger
Matt Lewis

The car’s original owner, William Sloan of Rochester, New York, saw legendary Hollywood actor Rudolph Valentino’s Fleetwood-bodied Isotta Fraschini Roadster at the 1926 New York Auto Salon and fell in love with it. Except he wanted it on a Mercedes-Benz chassis. The car had been repainted in the decades that followed—Michael described it as “a pretty car with an ugly paint job”—and the Riches wanted to restore it back to how it looked when it rolled out of the Fleetwood factory. They entrusted the job to Steve Babinsky and Automotive Restorations in Lebabon, New Jersey.

“It was fun doing the restoration because we could visit it from time to time. I remember when it was down to a frame,” Joannie says. “We discussed the colors, and when we finally found the original color, we looked at each and said, ‘It’s interesting … not one I would pick.’ We sort of toyed back and forth about what we were going to do, and we decided if we were going to do it, we’d do it as it was.”

That proved to be a great decision. The Greenwich Concours d’Elegance is only its fourth public showing.

1927 Mercedes-Benz Type K - Greenwich - Closeup interior
Matt Lewis

“The car world has a belief system, and the belief system is that certain cars are just super important, deserving of celebration and recognition,” says McKeel Hagerty, CEO of Hagerty, which owns the event. “The Mercedes-Benz Model K selected as best in show represents that greatness—one that the judges recognized following significant deliberation.”

The short-wheelbase (130 inches) Model K is powered by a 6.2-liter, switchable supercharged (kompressor) six-cylinder engine. From the right side of the bonnet/hood emerged three metal exhaust pipes merging at the lower edge to a single exhaust. This detail later became a hallmark of Mercedes-Benz supercharged cars.

1927 Mercedes-Benz Type K - Greenwich - Full profile
Matt Lewis

The 2021 Greenwich Concours d’Elegance marked an evolution of the event’s weekend program. Saturday’s inaugural motoring festival featured the unexceptional cars of Concours d’Lemons, RADwood favorites from the 1980s and ’90s, and Porschella by CarPark, a celebration of all things modified Porsche. There were also plenty of hands-on activities: ride and drives, racing simulators, slot car competitions, and Hagerty Youth Programs.

Special concours classes included Ford vs. GM, 100 Years of Duesenberg, Right Coast Rods, Lancia, 75 Years of Allard, and a first-ever SUV class. The 2021 featured motorcycle classes included Moto Guzzi and Indian. Jay Ward, Pixar Animation Studio’s creative director, served as grand marshal.

The show returns to Greenwich on June 3-5, 2022, but the Riches are all-too happy to bask in the glow of the 2021 event for a while.

1927 Mercedes-Benz Type K - Greenwich - Closeup grille
Matt Lewis

“It’s a special car,” Joannie says. “I get so much enjoyment out of watching people’s reaction to it. They have so many questions. It’s been a lot of fun.”

Michael thanked his father “for getting me into this mess.”

“It’s a hobby,” Joannie jokingly corrected him.

“A mess, a hobby, organized chaos … I just wish he was here to see this.”

Something tells us he would be smiling.


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