The first round of globally-important automobile auctions takes place in Scottsdale in mid-January and it is traditionally where some of the world's most valuable cars are sold. This year, the highlight of the Arizona sales will be a 1939 Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser Offener Tourenwagen used as the main parade car of Adolf Hitler from October, 1939, until May, 1941.
The history of the magnificent limousine is well documented, with it having been ordered by and built for Chancellor of Nazi Germany and Führer of the Third Reich, Adolf Hitler. The car was taken from occupied Germany by the U.S. Army in 1945 and its provenance traces through being part of the Imperial Palace Casino collection and several other landmark auto collections.
Apart from being Hitler's Mercedes-Benz, the presidential limousine is a rare and valuable car without the Führer's provenance, being one of just a handful of surviving Offener Tourenwagens that were so expensive that they were the exclusive domain of heads of state and captains of industry.
Apart from prominent Nazi party officials, 770K Grosser Offener Tourenwagens were used by Emperor Hirohito of Japan, the King of Norway, Portuguese dictator António de Oliveira Salazar, Spanish dictator General Franco and the head of the Catholic Church, Pope Pius XI.
"If its original provenance can be set aside, surviving examples of the Mercedes-Benz 770 'Grosser' or 'Super Mercedes' remain quite likely the world's greatest achievement in terms of automotive design, engineering, and construction," says Rod Egan, Principal & Auctioneer at Worldwide Auctioneers, which will sell the car.
"In short, this vehicle is one of the most outstanding and historically important cars ever built", continues Egan. "It is however so much more than a car – it is an artifact that continues to stand and serve as a singular piece of irreplaceable living history and as a reminder that the evil which is a part of its history must never be permitted to recur. Our hope is that it will be used in a setting such as a public museum or collection where it can be shown and used to continually educate generations to come."
Not surprisingly, controversy surrounds any memorabilia from Hitler and the Third Reich, with many items claimed to have been owned or used by Hitler having subsequently proven to be false. One of the best known "Hitler cars," an almost identical car to this one, became the most valuable car ever sold at auction in January, 1973 at an auction in Scottsdale Arizona when it sold for a world record price of US$153,000.
Though the claim was subsequently found to be false, the car continued to appreciate in value and changed hands again later that year in a private sale for a price believed to have been some 30 percent greater than its auction price.
Worldwide Auctioneers is hoping that the upcoming sale will be free of controversy and is quick to point out that 10 percent of the sale price of the car will be donated to education regarding the Holocaust.
The detailed history of this particular Offener Tourenwagen can be found on the auction site, where it is claimed to be one of the last of the eight "pre-series" examples of the W150-generation 770K models, one of five surviving Offener Tourenwagens and one of three in private hands.
Source: Worldwide Auctioneers
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