PHOENIX (USA Today) - Once driven in the parades of Nazi Germany, Adolf Hitler's Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser will be shown to prospective buyers in Scottsdale on Jan. 17.
Ron Egan, a co-founder of Worldwide Auctioneers, said car enthusiasts would appreciate the luxury Grosser Offener Tourenwagen no matter who sat in it.
"The car by itself, without the history that it has, is a very valuable and significant car," Egan said. "It's known as one of the best engineered cars ever built."
As one of 88 ever produced, The W150 "Super Mercedes" is as rare as it is expensive. Features like an 7.7-liter engine capable of exceeding 100 mph and armor plating made it a symbol of opulence to be used in parades.
The U.S. Army seized the car at the end of World War II in 1945, according to the auction house. It's one of five surviving Offener Tourenwagens and one of three in private hands, the company said.
Egan said he approached the car's owner a couple years ago when a business associate expressed interest in purchasing the vehicle. The anonymous owner, however, believed an auction was more appropriate given its historical significance.
The car was sold in 2004 for approximately $18 million, Egan said.
Interested? Pass an interview first
The bidding won't be open to the public. Those registering to bid must interview with Egan and others, who will decide if they're qualified. A desire to use the car as a teaching tool is one of the qualifications.
"We're very aware of where the car would be best suited," Egan said. "Museum settings, stuff like that. And major collections and people that will exhibit the car and use it as an educational tour."
He acknowledged the eventual owner won't be legally obligated to use the car in any particular way. It's their property once the deal is done.
No matter how the car is used, Egan said 10% of the final sale price will be donated to a yet-to-be-named charity to educate the public and promote tolerance.
'Easily the most historically significant car ever sold'
Though the car is forever-intertwined with Hitler's name, Egan sees it as a symbol of world domination. It doesn't represent the leader of the Nazi Party, but the ideals that gave birth to the party itself.
"There's cars that have won races and cars that have been in movies," Egan said. "There are not other cars that have been used as significantly to change our world.
"We've obviously sold some expensive cars and cars with some great history, but nothing that I would say remotely approaches the significance of this," he said. "I mean, this car is recognized literally around the world in every country and it is easily the most historically significant car ever sold."