Peter Babej's

Mercedes-Benz 540K Spezial Roadster

After several decades of admiring all manner of Pocher models, it is only natural that we fall into the trap of developing expectations. It is easy to assume wire wheels will be neatly assembled, engines will bristle with details, and body panels will glisten with smooth paint. Our noses become accustomed to being lowered to within millimeters of all too familiar body panels as we search for well documented injection molding traces and the traps and snares that befuddle the hapless inexperienced builder. Our attention seeks out the most arcane assembly quirks (“you may never get that corner of the hood to pull down,” or “was the builder caught out by those tight threads on the hubs?”), and we greet every quirk and factory short-coming like old friends discovered in our favorite pub on a snowy night. The one thing that we stop looking for is accuracy.

Peter Babej has ravaged our beloved Pocher 540K Rumbleseat Roadster with the intent of correcting it so that it looks like the prototype. Yikes, what a concept. Talk about thinking ‘outside the box’, in this case, quite literally. Not much is left of our old 540K friend aside from some nuts and bolts and some metal suspension pieces, and a few of those elements are a bit suspect. Somehow, Babej has come to the conclusion that the model ought to capture the prototype automobile right down to the fine details. Good heavens.

Putting aside all of the big stuff—the set-back engine, the shortened body, the re-shaped doors—Babej’s 540K went for the heart-breakers, the changes that only one in a thousand will notice, changes that take huge lumps of time to accomplish. Things like raising the door sills, changing the fender profiles, and adding an oil scraper to the engine, an engine which has been treated to having been lavishly converted to the details of the 540K specification, including the inverted manifolds, the relocated and fully plumbed Yunkers Motorenwerke Jumo fuel pump, and a full complement of secondary wiring and control levers. Even the radiator support rods have been lovingly enhanced into perfect replicas. Conspicuous by its absence is the unsightly gap around the Pocher firewall as it misses the embrace of the body around its edges, and the enormous trafficators have been trimmed down to be svelte jewelry of great subtlety.

Shortcomings? All models have shortcomings, just as all art can be improved. Of course there could a map tray under the dashboard, or perhaps a wrinkle in the leather to suggest some use, but these, too are nits unworthy of picking. This model is clearly all that any Pocher could hope to be, so thoroughly transformed that the Pocher name no longer applies.