Rare 1936 Mercedes may fetch record price at auction

[1936 Mercedes-Benz 540K Ð known as the von Krieger Special Roadster - is expected bring at least $10 million and could break the $16.4 million record for any auto sold at the Pebble Beach Auction. This glossy black Mercedes-Benz two-seater is rarer than a Stradivarius stringed instrument. Experts have dubbed it the automotive equivalent of a coveted Picasso painting. It exists only because a glamorous German baroness defied the Nazis, paying the automaker in Swiss Francs to repair the vehicle damaged in a traffic accident and then convincing Mercedes to ship it to her home in exile in Switzerland during World War II. Experts estimate that maybe a dozen of the cars survived the war and are squirreled away in collections worldwide. ÒIt is one of those cars that exemplify everything that is desirable about a classic automobile,Ó said Leslie Kendall, curator of the Petersen Automotive Museum. ÒIt is gorgeous, it is powerful, it is rare and it was expensive.Ó Once owned by Baroness Gisela von Krieger, a member of the Prussian nobility who had a pre-war romantic dalliance with a mysterious Jewish Englishman and sat out the Third Reich by living in France, Monaco and Switzerland, the car sat hidden in a Connecticut barn for decades.] *** []

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