The Scandalous Past of the 1935 Mercedes Benz 500K

Movie star, rumored gift from Hitler, World War II survivor, wood transporter, theft victim, Concours d’Elegance Winner…quite a history for a car. But this is not any car, this is a 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K with a one-of-a-kind body by Sindelfingen.

An impressive front with the classic Mercedes-Benz grille
An impressive front with the classic Mercedes-Benz grille

Introduced at the 1934 Motor Show in Berlin, the Mercedes 500K was the new top of the line luxury. This example was fitted with what is believed to be the only existing roadster body by Sindelfingen.

The star of the show at the 2016 Elegance at Hershey where the 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K captured the Governor’s Cup.
The star of the show at the 2016 Elegance at Hershey where the 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K captured the Governor’s Cup.

Although the car’s original owner remains uncertain, rumors have it that Adolf Hitler ordered it as a gift for his alleged mistress, the Swedish actress, Zara Leander. Whether or not that is true, the car made its movie debut in “Der Blaufuchs” starring Miss Leander.

The 500K roadster has a one-of-a-kind body by Sindelfingen.
The 500K roadster has a one-of-a-kind body by Sindelfingen.

The Mercedes, like several cars from the era, traveled eastward with Germany’s campaign against Russia. It probably served as personal transportation for some generals of the German forces. Consequently, when the Germans were defeated, the car was left behind the Berlin Wall.

The steering wheel and dashboard with a 200 km/h speedometer.
The steering wheel and dashboard with a 200 km/h speedometer.

Apparently, the car was maintained in driving condition throughout its 45 years behind the Wall. It must have been odd to meet the 500K on a road populated by Volgas and Ladas. Some of the car’s past adventures included hauling firewood by a truck driver in Estonia, in addition to having been traded and stolen several times.

An impressive front with the classic Mercedes-Benz grille
An impressive front with the classic Mercedes-Benz grille

After the fall of the Berlin Wall, the car was returned to the West in 1987 and was exported to the US. It underwent a comprehensive restoration and was exhibited at the 1991 Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance. In 2015 after another renovation, the car was back again at Pebble Beach where it won the Best in Class Ribbon. In the 2016 Elegance at Hershey, where these images were captured, this very special Mercedes-Benz 500K received the Governor’s Cup and Best in Show.

The car starred in the German movie “Der Blaufuchs"
The car starred in the German movie “Der Blaufuchs"

If you’re like me, knowing a vintage car’s unique history, makes for a deeper appreciation of its beauty. And now you can read more about this amazing car in Patina Magazine.

What’s more, Barnebys' readeres have the added benefit of a free subscription to Patina Magazine. Click here to subscribe and enjoy the ride.

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