Provenance can contribute significantly to a classic car's value. But while a vehicle's history may be interesting, it's not always pleasant – particularly when it comes to WW2-era German automobiles. Like this 1938 Mercedes-Benz 320 Cabriolet B, for example.
One of only 34 of its kind ever built, this particular example was the only one made at Mercedes' Mannheim factory, and equipped with just about every option in the catalog. It also happened to have been the property and chosen mode of transportation of one of the most evil men ever to talk the earth, and the target of one of history's most daring assassinations.
Reinard Heydrich was a senior SS officer and one of Hitler's top lieutenants, widely considered to be one of the architects of the Holocaust. He was also the officer in charge of the Bohemian territories under Nazi occupation, and in 1942 the Czechoslovak government-in-exile executed Operation Anthropoid.
Two operatives parachuted in behind enemy lines with help from the British and a plot to assassinate the genocidal officer. They carried out their plans on the outskirts of Prague on May 27, 1942, tossing a converted tank mine under the Mercedes. The story has been told dozens of times in print and on screen – including in the upcoming film Anthropoid, set to debut next month.
Heydrich succumbed to wounds sustained in the attack a week later, and the car was left as a bombed hulk until its remains were found in a barn in 1980. Since undergoing a comprehensive rebuild and restoration, the magnificent but darkly storied cabriolet has been used on numerous movie sets, and is set to go under the hammer at Campen Auktioner in Denmark on June 26. With collectors of Nazi memorabilia lamentably thick on the ground, we don't doubt that Heydrich's cabrio will fetch a pretty Reichsmark or two.