Nazi car ordered for Hitler’s deputy Hermann Goering to be restored…

20 Mar 2015 | Author: | No comments yet »
Mercedes-Benz 540K W24

Nazi car from 1941 to be restored in Pompano

August 15, 2013 | By Ihosvani Rodriguez, Sun Sentinel

A Pompano Beach company plans to rebuild a 1941 Mercedes Benz 540K Cabriolet B believed to have been custom made for high-ranking Nazi leaders, possibly Adolf Hitler’s deputy, Hermann Goering.

It was recently purchased by Pompano Beach-based High Velocity Classics, whose plan is to resurrect it as a prize celebrating the Allied victory in Europe, rather than Nazi memorabilia sought after by collectors with wrong intentions.

It will absolutely not be sold to anyone who doesn’t have the proper sentiment to its history, said company co-founder David Rathbun. It’s a unique major piece of history coming back to be seen by the world for what it represents.

Records obtained by Rathbun’s group and by the previous owner in North Carolina show the car was ordered and specially made for Goering, who was the head of the Nazi air force and designated as the possible successor to Hitler.

The Mercedes was one of the fastest cars of its time , and was loaded with special features, including a raised back seat and a platform for parades. The car was bullet- and bombproof.

The Mercedes 540K series was cherished by the Third Reich’s hierarchy, and at least 12 were specially made for them, according to an article in a 2006 book published by Automobile Quarterly.

A Mercedes Benz spokesman said records show that a car with an identification number of 408430 was ordered by the Reich Air Force Ministry for Goering’s use in 1941, two years after the company stopped production of the model. It is the same number etched on the chassis of the vehicle now owned by the Pompano Beach restoration company.

Mercedes Benz confirmed that the decades-old company documents obtained by Rathbun are most likely authentic, but that there is no evidence in their archives that shows Goering personally used the car. A 1955 letter from Mercedes Benz about the car suggests that Goering may have given it to Werner Mölders, a famous German fighter pilot, said Mercedes Benz spokesman Gerhard Heidbrink.

This does not mean it was not used by Goering. It simply means this is not established by records in the (car company’s) archives, Heidbrink said.

High Velocity Classics spent nearly three months researching the car and was able to trace most of its history.

We didn’t do a little research on this. We did a whole lot of research, company co-founder Rathbun said. When we first heard about the car, we were like, ‘yeah, right it’s a Herman Goering car.’ Everyone claims to have a Nazi car. The more things we uncovered, the more we were convinced this is the real thing.

According to High Velocity Classics, the car was seized by the U.S. military on May 4, 1945, during the closing days of the war. Colonel John A. Heintges, the commander of the 7th Infantry, kept it as his personal vehicle during the Allied occupation in Germany.

Toward the end of the occupation, the car was sold as surplus to a U.S Army staff sergeant who brought it to the United States. He kept it in Texas for a few years, and then sold it to noted antique car collector Richard Taylor of North Carolina.

Mercedes-Benz 540K W24


Taylor tried to restore the vehicle during the 1970s, but that effort was never finished. Rathbun said he and his business partner found the car with the chassis, seats and engine intact, but the remainder of the car is in boxes.

The company plans to begin work in about two months, and expects the task to take up to 18 months. It will work with a restorer who specializes in WWII-era vehicles and who can re-manufacture the worn parts that can no longer be unearthed.

High Velocity Classics also plans to use consultants, including members of the South Florida Jewish community, to screen potential buyers, and hopes it will ultimately be parked at a museum.

Hava Holzhauer, a state regional director with the Anti-Defamation League, said the organization is encouraged that the company has expressed interest in seeing the vehicle restored as a historical monument.

The last thing we would want is to see an item such as this wind up in the hands of those who would use it to glorify racism, prejudice or bigotry, Holzhauer said.

Rathbun declined to talk about the cost of buying and restoring the Mercedes. Another one of Goering’s car was recently auctioned off for $24.55 million. He said the story behind the car is the real value.

The idea that we found a piece of the war buried, and that we came and saved it, that is what is motivating us, he said. We want to put it into the right hands.

ijrodriguez@tribune.com. 954-356-4605 or @GeoRodriguez on Twitter and Instagram

Mercedes-Benz 540K W24
Mercedes-Benz 540K W24
Mercedes-Benz 540K W24
Mercedes-Benz 540K W24
Mercedes-Benz 540K W24

interesting records

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