On February 17, 2018, there was something unusual parked on the street in Medina, Washington. A shiny Mercedes car, so deeply blue it was almost black, armored, with the license plate “IA 148 461.” It was a Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser and is considered one of the most historically significant cars ever made.
It was also one of the parade cars used by Adolf Hitler.
History books and documentaries are filled with images of Hitler in this car or one of the other 770Ks he owned. There are photos of the car with this license plate carrying Hitler and Benito Mussolini in a parade through Munich in 1939. There is also a photo of Hitler in this automobile in a parade in Berlin in 1940.
The car itself is one of the most luxurious ever made. It has glove-leather seats filled with goose down, armor-plating, and bullet-resistant windows. There are secret compartments for storing Luger pistols. It’s 7.7-liter inline eight-cylinder, 230-horsepower engine with overhead valves was capable of propelling the car at speeds over 100 miles per hour.
The name “Grosser” literally translates to “large.” The “K” represents the “Kompressor” or supercharger in the engine.
There were only 88 ever produced, and only a few of those remain. Three are in museums, but most are held by private collectors.
The one spotted on the street in Medina is worth at least $7 million.
Resident Jessi Sites was driving near Saint Thomas School in the 8300 block of Northwest 12th Street when she noticed the car being unloaded from a truck, so she took a few pictures. She had previously watched other large objects unloaded there, including other historical cars. She saw only two men with the truck which had another, covered, vehicle in the back. When she drove past again, the Mercedes was gone, and the truck was driving away.
One month earlier, on January 17, 2018, this car was up for auction in Scottsdale, Arizona, by Worldwide Auctioneers. They billed the event as “Arizona Auction Week 2018.” There were seven collector auctions consisting of approximately 1,700 vehicles. Unofficially, the event brought in $248 million.
According to promotional material for the event, 10% of the sale of Hitler’s car was to be donated to the Simon Wiesenthal Center – an organization that researches and educates about the Holocaust.
But the car did not sell at the auction. It received a bid of $7 million which was not sufficient to clear the seller’s reserve price.
The car has been owned by several people since it was confiscated by American troops after the war. It was first used by the U.S. Army Military Police at Le Havre, France, and since then has featured in several parades, displays, and museums in the U.S. before being sold to a private owner.
In 2009, German newspaper the Express said that a car dealer in Düsseldorf had arranged for this car and five other 770K Grossers to be sold to a Russian billionaire. The next time it appears in the news was the Scottsdale auction. According to Rod Egan, a principal at Worldwide Auctioneers, the car did not sell in the auction at Scottsdale, but there was a deal pending shortly afterwards.
Egan is not allowed to discuss who bought it or for how much because of a non-disclosure agreement between his company and the parties in the sale. He did say that the car was not destined for Washington but for another country “far, far away.”
Egan speculated that the Mercedes may have been removed from the truck in order to unload the second vehicle.
Sites is curious as to how a car worth more than $7 million could be left sitting on the side of a street with only a couple of movers to guard it. She also wonders why the car would be in the Seattle area at all if it is heading out of the country. The Port of Seattle is 1,400 miles from Scottsdale while the Port of Los Angeles is only 400.