Next month, the annual classic car events in sunny Scottsdale have a very special guest. One that might send a shiver down the spine of visitors. It is the 1939 ‘Grosser Mercedes’ that transported Adolf Hitler and Benito Mussolini during a parade in Berlin in 1940.
It is well known that Adolf Hitler, the so-called Fuhrer of the German Third Reich, had a taste for big and luxurious cars. Mercedes-Benz built many cars for Hitler and other leaders of Nazi Germany and the motor pool in Hitler’s household contained many big Mercedes-Benz’s.
This specific car is a Mercedes-Benz 770K open tourer.
It was commissioned on behalf of Hitler by his chauffeur, Erich Kempka. The car is equipped with a huge 7.7-liter eight cylinder engine, but then, it had a big load to pull as the car was armored heavily, with steel plates in the doors and the floor and thick, bulletproof glass for the windows.
It was one of the first chassis of the new W150 series, number 189744, with independent front suspension and a De Dion-axle in the back. The car was delivered in Berlin on 29 July 1939.
After that, several public appearances of this car have been recorded. On October 6, 1939, the car was part of a motorcade, driving Hitler to the Reichskanzlei in Berlin, surrounded by his Nazi ministers and watched by the international press.
On 18 Juni, 1940, the Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini came to Berlin to pay his respects to Hitler. The Fuhrer and the Duce drove in this specific car through Berlin, while the German people cheered at them. And no wonder, because Hitler had practically won his Blitzkrieg in Europe.
His final victory came some weeks later when France was defeated. On July 6, 1940, Hitler made his victory parade through Berlin, again in this Mercedes with chassis number 189744. Almost a year later, on May 4, 1941, Adolf Hitler used his Mercedes for one more victory parade after Yugoslavia and Greece were conquered. After that, the time for victory parades was over.
On July 15, 1943, the car was sent back to the factory in Sindelfingen where it was built, for the necessary maintenance. By that time, the allied forces had started daylight bombings on Nazi Germany. They targeted especially industrial targets and indeed, they also hit the Mercedes-Benz factory in Sindelfingen.
To France and the USA
What is strange about the documentation that Worldwide Auctioneers provide, is that they state that the Mercedes might have been used by Hitler to travel to France for a meeting with his field marshal Erwin Rommel after the allied invasion of France. This is of course not likely, as Hitler was a coward who would not go near any battle. He stayed in his Wolfs Layer and any general that wanted to speak to him had to come and visit.
Nevertheless, the Mercedes seems to have ended up in France, as it was captured by American forces in 1945 and it ended up in an allied motor pool in Le Havre in the North of France.
In 1946 the car was apparently acquired by a Belgian businessman who took it with him on a journey to the USA.
There the car was sold to another businessman in Greenville, North Carolina. In 1949 this gentleman donated the car to the local branch of the Veterans of Foreign Wars.
For several years, the car, which people believed had been the personal car of SS-leader Heinrich Himmler, was used for several years parading the VFW through the streets of Greenville.
After several years in storage, the car was then discovered by a car collector and businessman. He reached out to the factory in Germany and learned that the car had actually been one of the ‘Fuhrer cars’, as they were internally known at Mercedes-Benz.
The new owner had the car optically restored and appraised, and through several articles in newspapers, the car became well known throughout the USA. Eventually, the car ended up in the Chicago Historical Antique Automobile Museum Inc. As a part of a collection of celebrity cars, with vehicles that were owned by people like Elvis Presley and Lyndon B. Johnson. Later the car was sold several times until it became part of the Imperial Palace Collection on the Strip in Las Vegas. When the owner of the collection died in 2002, the ‘Grosser Mercedes’, along with twenty other classic Mercedes-cars, was sold two years later to a European collector.
The big Benz is now to be auctioned in Scottsdale on January 17, 2018.
Worldwide Auctioneers will not publish a estimate on the car. They do however state clearly that 10 percent of the sale price of the car will be donated and used to educate how and why the Holocaust happened and how to effectively prevent such atrocities in the future.