Captured as war booty by the US Army in 1945, this Mercedes Grosse 770 was one of six armored limousines used by Adolf Hitler, making it one of the most popular exhibits at the Canadian War Museum (CWM) in Ottawa.
Originally thought to be one of Herman Goring's staff cars, subsequent research revealed that Mercedes had delivered this vehicle to Hitler's personal staff in 1940. Interestingly, when a researcher from the CWM contacted Mercedes in 1970, the company did not reply to requests for information about the car. "I have noticed a reluctance in many Germans to admit they were around at all during the Second World War, and have a feeling that the same is true of this company", he wrote. The CWM had to get the Canadian Ambassador to Germany to make a formal request before Mercedes would cooperate.
Photo Credits: (Top) pentaxforums.com, (Middle) CWM, (Above) Flickr Pool
Weighing in at more than 4 tons, (4100kg), this big armored Merc was powered by a modified inline 8-cylinder engine producing 225 horsepower and could reach a top speed of 93.2 mph (150 km/h). The occupants were protected by the usual armored doors and bullet-proof glass, but this limo had some additional features: a quarter-inch thick (0.6 cm) armored plate could be raised as a shield behind the rear passengers, and custom compartments were installed to store pistols. This last feature is actually still available on its modern-day descendant, the Mercedes Guard series.
Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
As much as it would be pleasing for Canadians to believe that our troops captured this car and carried it home in triumph as war booty, it was the Americans who had that honor, and furthermore they did it in true Jalop style. According to a report authored by a CWM historian,
"Sergeant T. Joe Azara of the 20th Armored Division had found the car sitting on a flatbed in a railway siding in the village of Laufen just north of Salzburg, Austria. After a short fire fight with some German snipers, Azara secured the car, removed it from the flatbed, and soon had it running. (He soon, however, had to replace the original engine with another of the same power removed from a Mercedes found at Hitler's retreat at Berchtesgaden, located just to the north of Laufen across the Austrian-Bavarian frontier.)"
The US Army took possession of the car, and later shipped it back stateside to the Aberdeen Proving Ground, where it sat in a warehouse for 9 years, eventually to be sold at government auction to an American collector, who later sold it to a businessman from Quebec, who in turn donated it to the Canadian War Museum (for a healthy tax write off) in 1970. It is unknown if Sergeant Azara was rewarded for his efforts - if not, at least he had a great war story to tell.
I forget why, but convertible armored limousines for Heads of State aren't very popular anymore for some reason. Oh wait, now I remember.
Photo Credit: WilliamMaloney.com
Corrections: The conversion from metric into imperial for the weight of the car was compromised due to the author's poor math skills, and has been corrected.
The pistol compartments on this car are still, in fact, still available as an option on factory-made armored Mercedes. It was previously reported above that this was no longer available.