REVIEW: Maisto 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster •

REVIEW: Maisto 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster

Words and photos courtesy of JS Coleman


Mercedes-Benz was enjoying vast status in the 1930s. Their reputation as the maker of fast, stylish, and luxurious cars was at its height, with excellent models such as the SSK sports car, the huge 770K Grosser limousine, and the first ever diesel car, the 260D, included in the prestigious repertoire. However, perhaps the greatest of all was the 500K Special Roadster of 1936. The 500K Special Roadster was exceptionally beautiful and prohibitively expensive – with only 26 examples being produced. Instantly, it became renowned for its magnificent coachwork, extravagant opulence, innovative features, and above all, the potent supercharged (Kompressor) V8 engine. It was the car that best emphasized and epitomized the height of Mercedes-Benz’s exclusivity and exquisiteness in the 1930s, and today examples are highly prized and worth millions of dollars at auction.

MB 500K Special Roadster (6)

It is fitting, therefore, that Maisto should choose to model their 1:18 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster as part of the more upmarket ‘Premiere Edition’ range – meaning it flaunts more function, refinement, detail, and a better display stand than the standard ‘Special Edition’. They also chose to offer it in two different specifications; the first being a dark blue or red. The second model is exclusive to an off-white, and features an additional two cased side-spares and running-board luggage compartments –features that the first model forgoes. Both versions look stunning, but the latter’s supplementary side-spares add an extra elegant touch.

MB 500K Special Roadster (4)

Maisto has captured the 500K SR’s beautiful lines very well. The exterior design highlights–such as the prominent fenders, chromed vertical grille, and the protruding round headlamp units – are all recognizable archetypal 1930s design cues. Unfortunately, the chrome plastics, particularly on the windscreen, feel a little cheap – but not to the point of being unacceptable. The Mercedes-Benz logo is also somewhat fragile and thin, so don’t call this one a ‘diecast toy’.

MB 500K Special Roadster (12)

If the exterior was good, the open interior is excellent. The ornate dash is intricately and neatly painted– and the analogue instrumentation is not just a sticker-on-a-flat-surface! Rather, Maisto has placed a neat decal inside a depressed circle on the dash – so that it much more realistic and premium. Bravo Maisto! It doesn’t just stop there, however. The gear stick bulb is brilliantly painted in white, with the little gear indications indicated in gold. The cabin floor is not carpeted, understandably, but instead of just hard plastic it has an interesting ‘tissue-paper’ feel. Likewise, the class of plastics used inside, especially on the well-molded seats, is high-grade and actually looks like leather – making the interior of Maisto’s 500K Special Roadster almost mistakable for a premium model. The only disappointment, in fact, is the chromed and cheap-looking foot pedals. Despite this, another plus is folding rear rumble seats – which echo the relative detail and quality of the rest of the interior.

MB 500K Special Roadster (7)

Opening the two centre-hinged bonnet-flaps reveals an acceptable engine. It’s not wonderful, but at its price, it’s what you’d expect. There is, however, quality here too: the engine fluid cap is not just painted gold, it also has minute German text stamped on it! You’ll need a monocle to read it, but still, what a lovely touch! Likewise, the two exhaust hoses which stream out of the side of most Mercedes-Benzes of this era are not just bits of chrome plastic, like Bburago did with their 1:18 SSK – but rather detailed springs. They look far more realistic than the alternative would have.

MB 500K Special Roadster (9)

Yes, despite being a budget brand, the 500K SR is perhaps Maisto’s best effort. The level of function, detail and refinement are surprisingly good – and there is very little ‘corner cutting’. Of course, the quality and feel isn’t up with AUTOart – but hey, neither is the price. And for just $60-70, this is an astounding bargain: especially so, because it actually measures 1:16 scale, not 1:18. At any rate, it is well and truly a splendid replica of one of history’s finest cars.

MB 500K Special Roadster (5) MB 500K Special Roadster (8) MB 500K Special Roadster (10)

MB 500K Special Roadster (11) MB 500K Special Roadster (1) MB 500K Special Roadster (2)

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8 Responses to "REVIEW: Maisto 1936 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster"

  1. Larry Kemling says:

    Very pleased to find this excellent review,have just purchased the Mercedes Benz SR
    And am awaiting it’s arrival ….was suprised to learn it’s actually 1/16 scale as opposed to 1/18.

  2. Larry kemling says:

    Sorry it took awhile to get back.
    Absolutely astounded at what I received for the price, beautifully made model,fit and finish is perfect the paint just glisten’s on this beauty both doors and the rumble seat open and closing with a nice appreciative snap, the hood too opens and close’s with precision.
    The interior looks as close to the real car as possible. I was Just amazed!
    The engine bay is more than tolerable …..
    if there fault to be found it’s mainly the lack of coloring of the engine block and lack of a radiator up front. Worse case just keep the bonnet though a prototype color would have definitely pleased collectors….
    This gorgeous Roadster sits side by side with my other 30s American and European classics collecting accolades from visitors..if you don’t have one of these beauties your missing out.

    • DS Team says:

      Congrats! Your excitement is contagious LOL. I suggest you DO NOT buy a CMC model you may suffer a stroke due to the level of detail. Happy collecting!

  3. JSILVA says:

    For me, and being a model that has already a few years from release under its belt, it’s still the best model Maisto has ever released. And honestly, I think the engine detail is better than what you’ve mentioned, all supercharger, carburettor, intake and exhaust manifolds, cooling fan, ignition cables are there and very accurate (well, maybe the point where the ignition plugs are connected is its weakest point and give it the look that it’s not that great… but it is!

    Oh, and by the way, the 500K Spezial Roadster is a 1934 model and not 1936, its engine is a engageable Roots-Type-supercharged straight-8 and not a V8 and if I’m not very far from facts, this spec is due to the fact that initially it was sold as the “Maharaja of Indore” 500K with those side pouches (the Maharaja was a hunter and, yes, he used his Mercedes to go hunting!) which, after all, was discovered to be in fact a 540K… which wasn’t even white, whas painted light cream. All the photos available were in black and white so, give them a break LOL!

    Great to read your reviews, keep up the good work and stay safe!

  4. JSILVA says:

    Oh, and just another small thing: I checked and the scale is not 1:16. The original car was over 5 m long ant the miniature is (excluding bumpers) 28 cm long… spot on 1:18.

  5. James V Cagnina says:

    Can these model cars be purchased? if so,
    would you please email the me what site to go to.
    Thank you

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