Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster tops Bonhams Chantilly sale
A stunning Mercedes-Benz 500K Special Roadster will lead a line-up of pre-War German automobiles at Bonhams' forthcoming Chantilly sale.
The car, one of only a handful of examples in existence, is expected to sell for €5 - €7 million ($6.58 - $9.22 million).
Having been originally exhibited at the Berlin Motor Show in 1935, the car was snapped up straight from the podium by Hans Friedrech Prym, a member of the oldest industrialist family in Germany known in manufacturing circles as "the zipper king".
"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."
It remained in the possession of the Prym family until 1945, when it was removed from their estate by U.S soldiers during the aftermath of WWII, and promptly disappeared.
Twenty five years later it resurfaced once more, this time on the other side of the Atlantic, and passed through the hands of several U.S collectors including the esteemed Lyon Family collection in California.
In 2011 it sold to a Dutch collector who returned it to Europe, but it was immediately seized by the authorities when it reached German soil.
"Whilst it was believed by many to have been sold in 1945, a 2012 ruling later stated that the 500K was actually stolen," said Cantor. "It is thought to have been taken from the Prym’s property – based near the Belgian border – by U.S. soldiers at the end World War II.
"Now this incredible motor car 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 Bonhams sale takes place at the Château de Chantilly, as part of the third annual Chantilly Concours d’Elegance, on September 3.
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