Revell 1/48 Mercedes 540-K

KIT #: H-1269
PRICE: $4.95 'used'
REVIEWER: Scott Van Aken
NOTES: 1977 boxing


Introduced at the 1936 Paris Motor Show, the Friedrich Geiger designed car was a development to the 500K, itself a development of the SSK. Available as a two-seater cabriolet, four seater coupé or seven seater limousine with armoured sides and armoured glass, it was one of the largest cars of the time.

The straight-8 cylinder engine of the 500K was enlarged in displacement to 5,401 cubic centimetres (329.6 cu in), It was fed by twin pressurized updraft carburetors, developing a 115 hp (86 kW). In addition, there was an attached Roots supercharger, which could either be engaged manually for short periods, or automatically when the accelerator was pushed fully to the floor. This increased power to 180 hp (130 kW), enabling a top speed of 170 kilometres per hour (110 mph).

Power was sent to the rear wheels through a four-speed or optional five speed manual gearbox that featured synchromesh on the top three gears. Vacuum-assisted hydraulic brakes kept the car under the driver's control.

The 540K had the same chassis layout at the 500K, but was significantly lightened by replacing the girder-like frame of the 500K with oval-section tubes - an influence of the Silver Arrows racing campaign.

To meet individual wishes of customers, three chassis variants were available as for the 500K: two long versions with a 3,290 mm (130 in) wheelbase, differing in terms of powertrain and bodywork layout; and a short version with 2,980 mm (117 in). The long variant, termed the normal chassis with the radiator directly above the front axle, served as the backbone for the four-seater cabriolets, the 'B' (with four side windows) and 'C' (with two side windows), and for touring cars and sedans. The shorter chassis was for the two-seater cabriolet 'A,' set up on a chassis on which radiator, engine, cockpit and all rearward modules were moved 185 mm (7.3 in) back from the front axle.

The Sindelfingen factory employed 1,500 people to create the 540K, and allowed a great deal of owner customization, meaning only 70 chassis were ever bodied by independent builders. Owners included Jack L. Warner of Warner Brothers film studios.

With the outbreak of World War II in 1939, the proposed further boring-out of the engine to 5,800 cubic centimetres (5.8 l) for a 580K was aborted, probably after only one such car was made. Chassis production ceased in 1940, with the final 2 being completed that year, and earlier chassis were still being bodied at a steady rate during 1940, with smaller numbers being completed in the 1941–1943 period. Regular replacement bodies were ordered in 1944 for a few cars.


A forum conversation got me interested in the Revell 1/48 car kits, of which, apparently, about a half dozen were done. I looked for, and easily found, the Mercedes 540K being offered for a range of prices. Naturally, I picked the least expensive!

There are four sprues in the kit. The body and hood in red, the rest of the chassis and fenders in black, a large chrome sprue, and one for the windows. In a bag are four tires and a metal axle. There are no decals and none are needed.

Molding is very nice and while I discovered that one of the windscreen posts was broken away and missing (something not mentioned in the sale description), everything was still on the sprues. Nothing really horrible in the way of sink areas and there are the few ejector pin marks. The chrome is well done though it seems a bit heavy. Some of the parts seem a bit oversize for the scale (such as the exhaust, hood ornament and other small bits), considering its age and scale it is nothing too horrible.

Instructions are the type that just offer a lot of drawings. There is no color information provided so one has to pretty much copy the box art. Nowadays we can simply click on the computer and do an Internet search for this sort of info as I'm betting that not all these cars were red with black interiors.


Despite my dismay at getting a damaged kit, it looks as if it will be easy enough to replace the missing part. In all, it should make for a nice model of an interesting 1930 German exotic.


June 2018

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