Gooding & Company will auction a 1934 Mercedes-Benz 500 K Offener Tourenwagen at the upcoming Estate of Mark Smith Auction on 7 April, and it has sinister provenance.
The 500 K was essentially the Mercedes-AMG SL 63 of its day. Based on the 770 K chassis, the 500 K came standard with a supercharger and a more attractive two-door open-top body, handbuilt by the coachbuilders at Sindelfingen. The Sindelfingen facility exists to this day and still only deals in high-end Mercs.
This particular 500 K is one of only five examples left, and it has been with its previous owner for 50 years. It has been displayed at the Pebble Beach and Amelia Island Concours d'Elegance events, but it does have a dark past.
According to the original kommission sheet - which is also rare since Sindelfingen only started keeping records in 1946 - this unit was built for Rudolf Hess. Hess was a prominent member of the National Socialist German Workers' Party, and his mate Adolf eventually named him the Feputy Fuhrer. After the Soviets knocked Berlin to the ground, Hess was sentenced to life imprisonment.
Hess' car had nothing to do with his unforgivable atrocities, however. And so the US military commandeered the vehicle and used it to drive around until they eventually went home. An unnamed American GI loved it so much that he brought it over after the war ended in 1945.
The trail went cold after that, but by 1955 the car was in the ownership of V. Link Milsark of Vienna, West Virginia. The car was listed with the Classic Car Club of America, but it was never publicly displayed. This only happened after Mark Smith bought the car in 2005.
It's a matching numbers car in original condition. It has never been restored and only maintained as necessary. The seat bottoms were replaced, but the rest of the interior is original. In 2019, the car received the Amelia Award in the 500 K/540 K class.
The 500 K is powered by a 5,018-cc inline-eight with a single updraft carburetor and a roots-type supercharger. According to the post, it produces 160 horsepower. Even more impressive for the time, the front suspension is an independent double wishbone and coil-spring setup.
The car is listed without reserve, but Gooding & Co. expects it to sell for between $1,250,000-$1,750,000. It may have a disquieting past, but this car has spent most of its life in the land of the free.