Old Mercedes and Mercedes classic cars are ten a penny – or that is what they say. This is not only due to the large numbers constructed, but mainly because of their durability and the love, many owners spent on their “starred dream“. And yet they exist: the truly unique Mercedes-Benz cars.
A car in this specific category is said to be recently discovered: a 1938 Mercedes 320 W142, fully equipped. This is nothing less than a “Holy Grail” of the car industry. The noble and very rare unit was supposedly found in Denmark.
Already a rarity in production of 1938:
the Mercedes 320 W142
It was sold as the rarest Mercedes-Benz specimen. A “blue Mauritius” on four wheels, this was the Mercedes 320 Type W142 already at the moment it left the assembly line. A classic car today and a rarity back then. According to the production list of Mercedes, a total of 34 chassis of the Type W142, Mercedes 320 were built in ten different bodywork versions. The Mercedes-Benz lists also mention that in the year of production 1938 only one vehicle was brought to Mannheim.
There, it was to be fully equipped. Heating in the passenger cabin, central lubrication and 12V electricity supply were to supplement the Mercedes, and this happened. And now the story becomes really exciting, as the Mercedes 320 Type W142 was handed over to the Wehrmacht. And this particular specimen has now supposedly surfaced in Denmark.
Mercedes W142 from 1938
– sheer luxury of its era
What kept the 1938 Mercedes 320 together was sheer luxury. A 3.4 litre cylinder capacity of 6-cylinder side-valve engines, 78 HP, allows a maximum speed of 140 km/h. Owing to the synchronised 4th gear, it went up to 125 km/h. In its 5th gear, the speedometer pointed at 140 km/h. And this was an impressive performance for a car with an empty weight of 2 tonnes. This took its toll, of course, as the Mercedes 320 W 142 consumed as much as 17 litre fuel per 100 kilometres.
A 6500 work hours’ restauration masterpiece
Its present owner came in possession of the Mercedes 320 by way of an “immaculate conception”. He found the rare car in 1980 in a barn in Denmark and had to salvage it first because the barn had fully collapsed. Fortunately, the new owner had acquired his automotive craftsmanship at Mercedes-Benz and was therefore able to perform a restauration, even though the car had been exposed to weather conditions in a collapsed barn for decennia. A lot of time – 11 years and some 6500 working hours were put in this Mercedes rarity.
What did the owner “dig out” with the Mercedes 320 W142?
Gradually the new owner came to know more about the treasure he had found in a collapsed Danish barn. Apparently, the 320 has a dark, and for a possible interested potential buyer, particularly problematic past. Reinhard Heydrich, nazi official and leader of the Wannsee conference, on occasion of which the destruction of the European Jews was determined, was its possible owner and had been sitting, at the moment his assassination in Prague on 27th May 1942, in this very Mercedes.
The problem is, that the chassis number of Heydrichs car had not been registered anywhere. Many important details of its origin, however, seem to match. Apparently, three soldiers were able to get the car, which was severely damaged by a hand-grenade, up and running and flee to Denmark with it shortly before the end of the war.
Never mind its past owner; it is a sensation that today a car like this has been found.
Foto: alan farrow, Perico001, eric, TIMRAAB227 / flickr.com