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Table of 20 Aktion P 540K cars in Ludwig Kosche's article on the Aktion P in Automobile Quarterly, 28-1:

(The table shows year of chassis construction, and since 18 were rebuilt cars, the chassis years are 1938-1939. The two new chassis that remained at the factory have 1940 dates; these should entered on the chassis production lists as chassis of that year, thereby reducing the 1939 count by two, so 1939 = 67 and 1940 = 2. These Aktion P cars appear to be a series on their own, and the only reason most were rebuilds is because there wasn't enough time to erect new chassis. Even though it looks like all of these were completed by 1942, some didn't reach their destinations until a year or two later. Whether or not a second series of 17 cars, definitely ordered in November 1943, was built, again using used, overhauled chassis, is controversial. Melin couldn't find data on them, but Oswald states delivery took place in April of 1944. Oswald started his career shortly after the war and read and collected everything published in terms of automotive production. It's possible he had data from the period in the form of articles, and that DBAG's records from this time are lost or were never properly kept since the factory was being bombed, even destroying two new 770K's awaiting delivery in March 1944.)

AQ28-1MERCEDES540KAKTIONPTABLEINARTICLEBYLUDWIGKOSCHE_zpse39e98a5.jpg

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This body production table in Griff Borgeson's article on Ahrens in Automobile Quarterly 26-4 puzzles me. I can't get many of these figures to jive with company records, Melin, or Oswald, no matter what I include or leave out. And the chassis totals seem way off. Not sure what he did here, but I do know Griff Borgeson was otherwise a superb historian.

AQ26-4AHRENSARTICLEBYGRIFFITHBORGESON-TABLEOFSINDELFINGENBODIES_zpsf209979b.jpg

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Taylor, per his caveat in the intro, did not solve any production number issues, but he did offer opinions. He stated Melin's, Oswald's and M-B's numbers for comparison. One thing I agree with Melin about, that Taylor does not, is that the late 500K chassis fitted at the factory with 5.4-litre engines should be counted among the 540K numbers. The transition was gradual and the late 500's were virtually identical to the early 540's except for the engine size. To me, that makes them 540K's regardless whether the chassis was made before or after they were marketed as 540K's. I understand the counter argument, that some of the orders for these cars were for 500K's, I just do not agree in hindsight that they should be counted at 500K's since engine size is what gives the car its name and distinguishes it from the earlier cars. The only cars that I think should have an asterisk, so to speak, are the 500K's that left with 5-litre engines and then went back to the factory for 5.4-litre replacement engines. Those really did start out as 500K's, whereas the others never had a 5-litre engine.

Despite a few typos, I like Taylor's work much more than I thought I would. I learned some things about trim and body panel differences.

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Has anyone ever heard of a trace of the infamous "580K" (doubtful) Roadster of NSKK boss Hühnlein?! I guess the car hasnt been seen since 1945 but is there some confirmation that it has been destroyed?

I believe the reason the 580K rumor persists is because the car does not exist. If the car had survived, the question of engine size could have been settled. Melin says documents show it was a 540K.

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I think there has never been any solid evidence this car really had anything else than a 540 engine. Same with 600K prototypes being delivered to high ranking military etc. IIRC Melin claims there is no trace of a 580K in the DB archives at all.More of a phantom car.

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I think there has never been any solid evidence this car really had anything else than a 540 engine. Same with 600K prototypes being delivered to high ranking military etc. IIRC Melin claims there is no trace of a 580K in the DB archives at all.More of a phantom car.

I only posted those articles to have as much as possible available for discussion and research. The 600 article was written before Melin's book, and even a bit before Oswald's first (1984) edition was released. The 580K article was written a bit before the release of Melin's book, but after Oswald's first edition. Oswald, even in his first edition, called the Huehnlein car a 540K. He only speculated that the seventeen 1944 Aktion P cars may have had the 5.8 liter engines. He revised, corrected, and added to his book for the 1986 edition, and removes this speculation. His second edition benefited greatly from his own further research, and Melin's research. This edition was the one Daimler Benz considered their in-house "bible" (as told to me by Niemann).

The articles on the State Fair car and Aktion P cars are excellent. I mainly posted the State Fair article for the footnote stating that the last 770 cars were not delivered till March 1944. This corroborates what Taylor's new book says.

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I found an error in Taylor's book. On page 152 he says 154081 was a Cab A for the Maharaja of Indore, which is what I had in my list. On page 169 Taylor says 154081 was Goering's Blue Goose. I thought the Blue Goose is 169334.

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What about the other Blue Goose, built in '42 by Erdmann & Rossi? I saved some notes from it.

A CAR dealer from North Yorkshire has discovered a Nazi car which could be worth a staggering £12 million in a garage in Russia.Nick Szkiler, who owns the Classic & Sportscar Centre, at West Knapton, near Malton, was told the Mercedes 540K Special Roadster, one of only 26 ever made, had been discovered rotting away in the garage.

Mr Szkiler said: “I took a flight to Moscow and then a 15-hour sleeper train ride after which I was shown a car the like of which I had never seen.”

The car was built in 1942 by Germany’s premier coachbuilders, Erdmann and Rossi.

“The firm was at the cutting edge of technology in their day and had created this later Blue Goose to be both bullet and blast protected,” he said.

The car was built with full body armour, identical to the model built for Hermann Goering, Reichsmarschall of the German Reich. That vehicle, nicknamed Blue Goose, was captured by US troops in 1945 and is now believed to be the most famous classic car in history.

Mr Szkiler, 54, said much of the car’s body was made from eight millimetres thick steel with some parts as thick as 12mm.

The front bumper is designed for ramming while the rear bumper has rubber buffers which would have allowed the car to be shunted in the event of being disabled by a bomb blast.

Mr Szkiler, whose Polish father was forced into slave labour by the Nazis, said: “I’d never seen a car made this way. Standing in this little Russian lock-up, it took two of us to open the cabriolet hood mechanism.

“Much of the car was substituted with Russian parts as the car fell into disrepair in the 1970s, so restoration will be a huge undertaking, but it is an amazing find. Examining the underbody, there underneath layers of later paint was the original air force blue colour so favoured by the infamous Reichsmarschall.”

Despite being built for the Nazis, Mr Szkiler said the sale of the car, which could fetch up to £12 million when fully restored, will be used for good.

He said: “As a Christian I know what the Bible says the wealth of the wicked is stored up for. The family who owned the car have Jewish roots and suffered greatly at the hands of the Nazis. The owner, his Russian Pastor and myself all see the proceeds of this vehicle being put to purposes close to our hearts.

“They see raising money from this particular car almost like divine retribution.”

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What about the other Blue Goose, built in '42 by Erdmann & Rossi? I saved some notes from it.

If that's the one that got all the recent press and is in the US now (delivered July '41), I talked to the dealer a few months ago. That car is 408430.

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Has anyone checked the E&R book? Mine is buried at home somewhere and I could look.

Unfortunately, I have never been able to find a reasonably priced copy of that, and have been looking for one for years. $200-$300 is a bit steep, but I may have to splurge one day. If you find your copy, and have a chance to look, I'd be interested in completion/delivery dates for wartime-era cars. Thanks!

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Taylor, per his caveat in the intro, did not solve any production number issues, but he did offer opinions. He stated Melin's, Oswald's and M-B's numbers for comparison. One thing I agree with Melin about, that Taylor does not, is that the late 500K chassis fitted at the factory with 5.4-litre engines should be counted among the 540K numbers. The transition was gradual and the late 500's were virtually identical to the early 540's except for the engine size. To me, that makes them 540K's regardless whether the chassis was made before or after they were marketed as 540K's. I understand the counter argument, that some of the orders for these cars were for 500K's, I just do not agree in hindsight that they should be counted at 500K's since engine size is what gives the car its name and distinguishes it from the earlier cars. The only cars that I think should have an asterisk, so to speak, are the 500K's that left with 5-litre engines and then went back to the factory for 5.4-litre replacement engines. Those really did start out as 500K's, whereas the others never had a 5-litre engine.

Despite a few typos, I like Taylor's work much more than I thought I would. I learned some things about trim and body panel differences.

I agree with everything you wrote. Oswald, in his revised 1986 edition, despite leaving the 540K count as 406 on the production page where the production of all models is located, uses the 419 figure in the 540K section. The Multi-Media site cites the incorrect figure of 319, but I think this is a typo, and it should be 419, since the count listed for the 500K is 342. Multi-Media must be using the Melin/Oswald data.

What is your take (or A.J.'s) on regarding the 540K Aktion P cars as a separate series within the 540K range, even though most were rebodied cars? Most sources do regard it as separate, and I agree. The only reason cars had to be rebodied is because of lack of time to build more chassis, owing to the fact that the rush was put on the company to make these vehicles. This wasn't the same as someone taking their car back to Daimler Benz to have it rebodied. D-B did this to cater to the needs of the Reich, and the cars received identical armored bodies (all 20, or, if the later 17 that were ordered were also built, 37). The very fact that the series has its own name (Aktion P) suggests it should be regarded as distinct. There were Aktion P 770 cars as well, even though most of these weren't rebodied chassis.

I'm liking the Taylor book more each day I read a section!

Edited by Bill K. (see edit history)
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What is your take (or A.J.'s) on regarding the 540K Aktion P cars as a separate series within the 540K range, even though most were rebodied cars?

Definitely. Although they are all supercharged 8-Cylinder pre-war Mercedes, I have very little interest in Aktion P's or the 770K's except the closed "civilian" cars. Given the era they were produced and some going to the Reich, my distinction very well may be without merit. Still, some of the 770K closed cars are massively great looking without automatically making me think of the open parade cars full of nazis.

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Definitely. Although they are all supercharged 8-Cylinder pre-war Mercedes, I have very little interest in Aktion P's or the 770K's except the closed "civilian" cars. Given the era they were produced and some going to the Reich, my distinction very well may be without merit. Still, some of the 770K closed cars are massively great looking without automatically making me think of the open parade cars full of nazis.

In all frankness, the Nazi status of these cars means absolutely nothing to me. I couldn't care less what potentate owned which car. I simply love these machines for their engineering and design. They were built in an era when automotive design (in my humble opinion) was at its pinnacle. I love the other German, the French, the British, the Italian, the Austrian, the Czech, the Swedish, the Belgian (think Imperia) the Spanish (think Barcelona Hispano-Suizas), the Swiss (think Martini and HOLKA DKWs), the American, and even the (American-inspired) Japanese creations of the period. The reason why I'm studying and trying to document WWII-built/delivered cars is because of the gap in many published sources, which is often incorrect. True, production was at a minimum, and for the most part the cars were delivered to only military personnel and government officials. But cars were still made. I've been trying to remedy the gap in published material the very hard way! Someday I'll come out with my book. It will be largely dry and full of facts and figures, but historians will love it. I remember SAH members encouraging my research.

Edited by Bill K. (see edit history)
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When I was shopping for a chassis for my car, there was an Aktion P (in pieces and boxes) available in Europe. The seller wanted more than twice what it was worth simply because it had been a Nazi car. It wasn't worth a penny more to me with that provenance. But not a penny less either. Had I purchased it and rebodied it, I would not have ever mentioned its history. As you say, it's the car that is important, not who owned it. Now, if it had been owned by Ahrens or Geiger, then maybe it's worth more!

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I like the style of the Aktion P cars and more or less agree with Craig as to their history. I have never cared much for "celebrity ownership" when it relates to cars and certainly not in this case. The NY one that was a mess was for sale for 900k I believe? When I say a mess I mean mess...

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http://www.ebay.de/itm/Mercedes-Benz-500-K-Karosserie-kein-SL-/151228842300?pt=Automobile&hash=item2335f1013c

Actually, there are quite a few parts there as well as the body tag. It would be nice to see that reunited with a chassis.

This guy has a set of fenders to go with it:

http://www.ebay.de/itm/Mercedes-500-K-Kotflugels-/231151479859?pt=DE_Autoteile&hash=item35d1b3ac33

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Craig, the E&R book has lots of serial numbers which I have emailed you.

Bill, There is a chapter on military vehicles. No 540k chassis pictured. In fact no MB pictured as far as I can tell. The first paragraph reads as follows:

"In 1939, with the beginning of World War II, he production of luxury cars was stopped. The chassis delivered from Horch and Daimler-Benz did not show any difference from vehicles which were produced during peace-time but the grey and chromeless bodies and the artifical leather upholestry showed so much more of the war's effects" It looks like almost all the bodies ended up on 320 or lesser chassis and all the pictures are of Horch or DKW.

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In all frankness, the Nazi status of these cars means absolutely nothing to me. I couldn't care less what potentate owned which car. I simply love these machines for their engineering and design. They were built in an era when automotive design (in my humble opinion) was at its pinnacle. I love the other German, the French, the British, the Italian, the Austrian, the Czech, the Swedish, the Belgian (think Imperia) the Spanish (think Barcelona Hispano-Suizas), the Swiss (think Martini and HOLKA DKWs), the American, and even the (American-inspired) Japanese creations of the period. The reason why I'm studying and trying to document WWII-built/delivered cars is because of the gap in many published sources, which is often incorrect. True, production was at a minimum, and for the most part the cars were delivered to only military personnel and government officials. But cars were still made. I've been trying to remedy the gap in published material the very hard way! Someday I'll come out with my book. It will be largely dry and full of facts and figures, but historians will love it. I remember SAH members encouraging my research.

I do know 2 owner of action p and 770 mb both of them for if any one interested please let me know my cell 414.630 two 8 5 three

David

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Interesting. Thanks, A.J. I found a mentioning online that there is an appendix containing a listing of cars with chassis and bodies to 1942. Is this true? If so, it may behoove me to splurge on this book since I do study all makes of wartime cars.

Horch is one of my favorite makes as well. In my Horch book by Oswald, there is a captioned picture of a series of Horch cabriolets built for the military on the 901 chassis, which normally was used for heavier vehicles. They are clearly military vehicles, but appear to have some semblances of civilian convertibles. A few of these were built by E&R.

I have several blurbs and articles on E&R and they all state that the last vehicle built was in 1949 on one of the last wartime SW42 Maybach chassis. This one is depicted in the Multi-Media Database. My assumption is that the chassis had not previously had a body, since nothing is ever mentioned about there having been an earlier one. The Spohn Maybachs of the 1950s were all rebodied cars, contrarily.

Craig, the E&R book has lots of serial numbers which I have emailed you.

Bill, There is a chapter on military vehicles. No 540k chassis pictured. In fact no MB pictured as far as I can tell. The first paragraph reads as follows:

"In 1939, with the beginning of World War II, he production of luxury cars was stopped. The chassis delivered from Horch and Daimler-Benz did not show any difference from vehicles which were produced during peace-time but the grey and chromeless bodies and the artifical leather upholestry showed so much more of the war's effects" It looks like almost all the bodies ended up on 320 or lesser chassis and all the pictures are of Horch or DKW.

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Other than the marque-specific books like Delahaye Styling​, what is the best book on Saoutchik coachbuilding?

There isn't one specifically on the coachbuilder yet (that I know of) but one is due out this year:

http://www.daltonwatson.com/2014-01-07-12-59-27/189-saoutchik

In the meantime, there are various coachbuilding books that have articles on Saoutchik. My Beaulieu Encyclopedia of Coachbuilding and Dictionary of World Coachbuilders and Car Stylists have some data. Art de la Carrosserie Francaise (in French) has some info but nothing like chassis #'s. The follow up, Encyclopedie de la Carrosserie Francaises, focuses more on the personalities and the business end of it. Another French book by the same author (Serge Bellu) is A French Touch of Class, Les Ateliers de Carrosserie Francaises 1930-1960, but it's in French as well, despite the English portion of the title.

I have a French-language book on Chapron that is very good.

Edited by Bill K. (see edit history)
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The Taylor book came in earlier in the week and I have skimmed most of it. I'm happy I bought it but I didn't learn anything about the 500k/540k cars that wasn't already known. It was neat to see a 2 page spread on one of my dad's old cars which I have fond memories of. To nit pick there are details I question. The 500k & 540k have the same transmission with different gearing. Taylor describes the 500k as a 3 speed with overdrive and the 540k as a 4 speed which is technically correct as 4th was changed from over to straight through for the 540k. But, really they are the same transmission. A nit pick on my part for sure. Also, I did not find a picture I had not seen before. It looked to me like a lot of auction photos.

Like Craig I did appreciate the section on the S & SS. I'm embarrassed to admit I did not know the exact production numbers on those cars.

All in all a worthwhile addition to the bookcase and a very well done book but if the house is on fire I'm grabbing my Melin copies right have I grab the wife,kids & dogs.

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I re-read what I just posted and I'm probably not being positive enough. It is not fair to compare any MB tome to Melin. Plus the picture comment is not fair because I have almost every possible 500k/540k picture you can think of which is not the case for 99% of the audience. So with more thought, I put this in my top 3 or 4 MB books with Melin at position 1 & 2. I can't think of any other books that covers the 20s cars like this one does.

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I re-read what I just posted and I'm probably not being positive enough. It is not fair to compare any MB tome to Melin. Plus the picture comment is not fair because I have almost every possible 500k/540k picture you can think of which is not the case for 99% of the audience. So with more thought, I put this in my top 3 or 4 MB books with Melin at position 1 & 2. I can't think of any other books that covers the 20s cars like this one does.

You do have Oswald, don't you, A.J.? I realize it's in German but it does cover all the models quite thoroughly. The 1986 version includes more research and corrects / updates what was in the original 1984 version. Oswald told me by snail-mail back in the early 1990s that he was impressed with Melin's research and not only incorporated that into his revised edition, but also went back to the archives himself to do more digging. So even though his 1984 tome is very impressive, since no one had attempted this sort of in-depth model-by-model research before, his revised 1986 book is superb. My only criticism of Taylor's book is that he used Oswald's 1984 original for researching, and not the revised edition. That is why he questions some of Oswald's figures.

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The Taylor book came in earlier in the week and I have skimmed most of it. I'm happy I bought it but I didn't learn anything about the 500k/540k cars that wasn't already known.

Got mine last week also and thats exactly what I thought. Personally I find it weak that didnt go out and at least take a few pics of some lesser known cars that arent shown at Pebble every other year! A couple photo sets come straight from RM catalogs. IMHO anyone with Melin and Oswald at home plus sourcing the additional pics could have published this book....

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  • 3 weeks later...

I would say the brain bender from Edinmass is the Blue Goose of Goering, a 540K captured near Hitler's Eagle's Nest and subsequently driven by a US genral before being taken to the US to display at war bond drives. I didn't look at the other pics but after it was captured it had 101st Airborne painted on the front bumper. His car had a bulletproof shield raisable behind the cockpit, a blue lensed road lamp near the windscreen and a bullet hole from when the GIs that found it tested the car's bulletproofness.

I was wondering if any MB buffs noticed if the Mercedes 540K four seater that recently sold at auction was the car of King Farouk, given to him by Hitler.

You can see it on this website http://www.fmm.co.za/dt_portfolio/mercedes-benz-540k-cabriolet/

which is from the African museum that had it. They say: "In the 1930s, the supercharged MERCEDES-BENZ 500K’s imposing styling and unparalleled performance was perfect for exploiting Germany’s growing network of autobahns. In 1936 it gave way to the 540K with its 5,4-litre engine and a maximum power output of 134 kilowatts, enough to propel these majestic 2,3-ton cars to over 160 kilometres per hour.

This four-seater Cabriolet first appeared at the 1936 Berlin Motor Show. In 1938 it was bought by the German government to be used as a wedding gift from Adolf Hitler to King Farouk I of Egypt. The car’s colour was changed to the king’s preferred dark shade of red, the interior and hood reupholstered in contrasting beige leather and a unique dashboard fitted. It was presented as “the most precise car manufactured in the world”.

In 1996 the car underwent a five-year restoration and, remarkably, the specialists were able to retain 90 per cent of the original car. "

Simon Kidston the British car hunter based in Geneva said on his website recently:

"Down the road at Coys, whose sale took place in their habitual circus tent, the catalogue made entertaining reading and contained a number of familiar faces (the cars, not the attendees). A beautifully restored Mercedes-Benz 540K with Cabriolet C coachwork, said to have been a gift from Hitler to King Farouk, was knocked down for a staggering €850,000 plus premium. For a car which is not really in fashion and has a limited market this should be considered a remarkable result, although as Coys didn’t publish an estimate one can’t be sure if they were hoping for even more.

All I want to know is, when it was found in France by a Frenchman, what was paid for it in its derelict state and what year that was. Thanks for any info.

[TABLE=width: 100%]

<tbody>[TR]

[TD]Other misc. info:

"Although the King was forced to abdicate in 1952 and spent the rest of his life in exile in Monaco and Italy, the car remained untouched in Cairo until 1988. A French collector purchased 169387 at auction and stored it in a barn in France. At this time the car still had not been touched and was in remarkably original and authentic condition, still retaining its original engine. In 1996 the car's specialist restorers were asked to inspect the car in France and, after thoroughly inspecting the car and realising its importance and potential, brought it back to Germany where they embarked on a painstaking restoration.The aim of the restoration was to retain as much of this important Mercedes' original parts as would be humanly possible. Through laborious and expensive techniques this aim was more than fulfilled as the car now in all its restored splendour still has 90% of its original parts - a near miracle with a 70 year old car. It took the specialists 5 years to bring this 540 K to the excellent condition it is in now. The restoration and history of the car is documented on five hours of film."

I wonder if it was restored by the factory or by some private Mercedes firm. Anyhow like to hear much the French collector paid for it.

Thanks for any info![/TD]

[/TR]

[TR]

[TD][/TD]

[/TR]

</tbody>[/TABLE]

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  • 5 weeks later...

540K Cab A coming up for auction at Bonham's Stuttgart sale. They didn't sell the 500K Cab A they had in their February auction, so will be interesting to see what happens. Movendi has one listed for sale on their website, but I couldn't get them to respond to email at all. Anyone know what the price & chassis number is on that one?

Edited by 540K (see edit history)
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I would say the brain bender from Edinmass is the Blue Goose of Goering, a 540K captured near Hitler's Eagle's Nest and subsequently driven by a US genral before being taken to the US to display at war bond drives. I didn't look at the other pics but after it was captured it had 101st Airborne painted on the front bumper. His car had a bulletproof shield raisable behind the cockpit, a blue lensed road lamp near the windscreen and a bullet hole from when the GIs that found it tested the car's bulletproofness.[TABLE=width: 100%]

<tbody>[TR]

I think you have your cars mixed up. Goering's "Blue Goose" was a Special Roadster. The car in Edinmass's post is a Cabriolet A, which, in my opinion is more beautiful than the much more valuable Special Roadster.

Edited by West Peterson (see edit history)
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This is about as credible as the numerous Hitler's car stories......the body might be German made but doesnt look typical Sindelfingen style to me. 600K?? Highly highly doubtful. They never went into actual production and theres no source whatsoever mentioning a 600K Special Roadster prototype which wouldnt make sense anyway since this was a rare body style and the few photos of those prototypes depict Cab B and limousine bodies which were far more common.

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