Rare Car Stolen in WWII to be Auctioned

1934 Mercedes-Benz 500K. Source: Wikipedia/ Public domain
1934 Mercedes-Benz 500K. Source: Wikipedia/ Public domain

A 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster that is believed to have been stolen by Allied troops at the end of World War II is up for auction. The asking price for the car is £6 million. The car had been hidden by Hans Prym, a German industrialist, who was imprisoned in 1945. American troops allegedly stole the car while staying at Prym’s estate.

Bonhams is handling the sale. “It’s no surprise that the 500K appealed to Hans Prym, who was a highly successful industrialist,” said Philip Kantor, Bonhams European head of motoring. “The vehicle was vast, stately, and incredibly powerful, only to be possessed by the elite.”

The car was missing for 25 years before showing up in the USA. It sold for £2.9 million in 2011 to Frans van Haren, a car collector from the Netherlands. When van Haren took the car to a show in Germany, authorities seized it. The grandchildren of Prym said that the car had been stolen and was still their rightful property.

A court ruled in 2012 that the U.S. troops had no right to take the car and ordered it to be returned to the Pryms. “While it was believed by many to have been sold in 1945, a 2012 ruling later stated that the 500K was actually stolen,” Mr. Kantor said.

“It is thought to have been taken from the Pryms’ property, based near the Belgian border, by U.S. soldiers at the end of World War II. “Now this incredible motorcar is safely back in the hands of its rightful owners, who have elected Bonhams to offer it at auction. The pinnacle of 1930s automotive technology, it is one of only 29 of its type produced. In magnificent condition, we expect strong bidding.”

The car will be sold on September 3 by Bonhams in Chantilly, France.


Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE