Not all cars, which were touched by historical figures, expected fame and attention. And some cars, like the hero of our story, were generally forgotten for many years. How did it happen?
Our today’s story will be about Hitler’s personal car. And we’ll start it in the Arkhangelskoye settlement near Moscow.
From the street on a steep staircase we go down to the basement. The large room is filled with various spare parts, tools and technical fluids, but everywhere – clean and tidy. Throughout the hall are placed cars of various years of production, around which restorers work. Our main character is also here, just around the corner, behind a small screen. It’s hard to believe, but on the lift to our gaze there appears a car carrying the most terrible dictator and war criminal in history – Adolf Hitler.
The fate of this armored Mercedes-Benz 770K cabriolet may seem fantastic. After all, for more than half a century, this car crossed half the world, having visited several countries – from Germany to Uzbekistan, and only in the early 2000s it got into the Museum of Technology of Vadim Zadorozhny. How did it happen? Let’s start from afar – from the history of this vehicle.
In the distant 1938 in the Third Reich they introduced the Mercedes-Benz Typ 770 of the second generation. This model, considered one of the most expensive cars of its era, has already proved its worth. We traveled on it mainly the first persons of states – for example, Reichspresident Paul von Hindenburg and Emperor of Japan Hirohito. This machine was also fond of Hitler. Therefore, the appearance of a new generation of a car for the elite was met in the Reich very favorably. In addition, the popular name of this model – Großer Mercedes, or in the translation “Big Mercedes” has already taken hold.
As before, the Mercedes-Benz 770 was available in two types of body: a limousine and a convertible. And, given the Fuhrer’s love for the latter type of cars, already in 1939 Reichsleiter Martin Bormann instructs Mercedes-Benz to fulfill a special order – to produce six armored cabriolets for servicing the country’s top officials. The firm coped with the task, and since 1942 the cars have entered service. And, it must be said, armored gigs have come to fame.
Judge for yourself: the armored Mercedes-Benz 770 had all the advantages of the usual – from a length of more than six meters, awe-inspiring on the road, to expensive finishing materials, as well as suspension design (independent – in front, and de Dione type from the rear), providing tremendous comfort during Movement. In the movement 770-s “Mercedes” of the second generation led a 7.6-liter inline “eight” with a capacity of 170 hp. But at the time of entering the convertible market, the engine power was increased to 230 hp. Due to the installation of the compressor (such cars were given the letter “K” in the title). And then there’s armor protection …
True, at first glance, the armor of this “Mercedes” was not the best. From possible enemy bullets of passengers (read – the Fuhrer) defended 4-6-millimeter steel. It is curious that at the same time armored panels were attached to doors, in the construction of which a tree was used.
However, one should not think that the passengers of the armored Mercedes were poorly protected. The fact is that German engineers have thought out how to hide the first persons of the state from the bullets of the enemy. Thanks to the special body structure, the Fuhrer was still protected from all sides. Judge for yourself: in addition to the armor panels of the Nazi dictator, armored glass with a thickness of 35 to 40 mm was protected. In the rear part of the shield was a special armored pincer, which was raised with a special handle. Even the spare wheels on the “big Mercedes” were arranged so as to perform a protective function. Thus, the Fuhrer turned out to be covered from all sides, but visually turned out to be close to the people. And in the case of an attempt on the dictator, it was enough just to sit down, and the driver – to press harder on the gas, and take his boss to a safe distance.
The only potentially vulnerable location of this car was the open top. However, do not say that in this respect the cabriolet was radically different from other representative cars of that time. The matter is that even at sedans the roof remained the only place which was not closed by armor. Therefore, the whistling of wind overhead did not prevent the passengers of the open “Mercedes” from feeling safe.
In general, Hitler liked the new cabriolet, which came into the disposal of the Reich Chancellery. The Nazi dictator even actively used the car during trips to the occupied territories, as evidenced by numerous photographs in the German archives. But how did this car come first in Uzbekistan, and eventually got to Russia?
This is a separate exciting story. One of the “big Mercedes”, which was actively used by Hitler, in Germany itself did not last long. The fact is that the Fuhrer personally presented the car to the Croatian dictator Ante Pavelic. But time flies quickly. Already two years later, the Nazi empire in all its pairs swept to its inevitable end. In the spring of 1945, NOAI, together with Soviet troops, liberates the territory of Yugoslavia from fascists. Josip Broz Tito comes to power, changes are taking place in the country. The car of Hitler, donated to Pavelic, is nationalized, and then Tito hands it as a gift to his friend – Joseph Stalin. The car enters the Garage for special purposes.
However, the Soviet dictator on the Mercedes-Benz 770K will not peresyadet. And for that there are completely understandable reasons. First, Stalin already had an armored limousine – ZIS-115, which we already talked about. Well, and secondly, it is quite obvious that it was absolutely not comme il faut to go to the head of the Soviet state on a German car, and even before Hitler’s hand. Still, the USSR was a victorious power in the Second World War.
Therefore, Stalin decided to transfer this car, and awarded them … the first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of UzSSR Usman Yusupov. Mercedes-Benz 770K went to Uzbekistan! True, in the garage of the head of the southern republic the car did not stay for long. The reasons for this were quite obvious: no matter how good the German cabriolet was, it was a foreign car, it was quite difficult to get parts for it. But any car has a property to break, even Mercedes-Benz. At some point, this happened with the 770th, so the head of the Central Committee of the Uzbek company transferred the car to the ownership of his personal chauffeur. The car fell into private hands.
And then events are already developing quite sadly. The new owner decided to convert the car into a truck, and replace the original parts with those that were produced in the Soviet Union. The machine itself turned into a faithful assistant in agriculture. Speaking in Russian, instead of heads of state, a newborn truck began to haul melons to the market. At some point and on such activities, a cross was placed: the car broke down again, and it was left to rot in the backyard of the house in the Uzbek steppe. In this form, the car stood until the early 2000’s.
However in 2002 on a trace of “the big Mercedes” automobile enthusiasts from Russia under the direction of Vadim Zadorozhny leave. Arriving in Uzbekistan, they realized that Hitler’s machine was in front of them, and it’s impossible to miss such a chance. Why? Everything is very simple. Despite the changes that have occurred with the exterior of the car, he still has a nameplate with the engine and chassis number. It was on this basis that we managed to trace the history of this vehicle.
As a result, the Mercedes-Benz 770K was bought, and painstaking work began to send it to Russia. When the car finally got on the territory of the Russian Federation, it turned out that for a complete set there are not enough very many spare parts. But it is very difficult to find original components for a model, the circulation of which does not exceed 100 copies.
But the road will master! Since 2002, the restorers have begun to search for the necessary spare parts. In Germany, the original engine and gearbox, as well as other components, were found and repurchased. Collect parts were in different parts of the world.
As a result, for 14 years of painstaking work, the completeness of the vehicle not yet assembled was able to be brought to 90%. Of course, not only our specialists were interested in such original spare parts, but also collectors from other countries of the world. Often for the rare elements of the design had to fight. Came to the curiosities. It is said that a German collector, having learned of the purchase of a Mercedes car, even came to our country and visited the museum of engineering in Arkhangelsk, where he stood for a long time before the engine, and swore. I just could not forgive the Russians that they took such a discovery from under his nose!
And yet now the Mercedes-Benz 770K in our country and can be considered the most real estate, because in the world there are only five such cars. True, the actual restoration work on the car has just begun. Now the cabriolet in disassembled form is in the workshop of the Museum of Engineering Vadim Zadorozhny in the Moscow region of Arkhangelsk.
There is still a very big work on fitting the parts, restoring their original look, coloring and final assembly. And then – the mandatory run-in of the assembled car along the highway. After all, it is during the first 300 kilometers of a live run that restorers reveal the shortcomings that a resurrected car has. But one day the Mercedes-Benz 770K will take its place at the museum stand. And, despite its dark past, will delight visitors with its appearance and a heavy history, as already do exactly the same cars in Germany, the US, the UK and Japan.