One of Mercedes-Benz’s vintage models, a 1935 Mercedes 500 K Roadster by Sindelfingen became a center of controversy when it’s buyer, car aficionado Frans van Haren had a nightmarish experience after German authorities confiscated his car as it now being claimed a heirloom property by the previous owner’s family. Being the proud owner of one of the most exclusive Benz’ ever made (bought it at auction with RM at Monterey in 2011), he happily wanted to display his $3.76 million car at Techno Classica in Essen, Germany. But at this classic car show his Mercedes was confiscated by the German police.
The Mercedes 500K (type W29) is a sports car built by Mercedes-Benz between 1934 and 1936 and is widely regarded as one of the greatest performance automobiles of the Thirties. A total of 342 cars were built, only 29 were bodied with Roadster and Special Roadster coachwork. This particular Mercedes was built in 1935 and was the centerpiece of the Mercedes-Benz display at the Berlin Motor Show. Following this show it was shipped to the Mercedes-Benz agency in Aachen, where is was sold to Hans Prym.
The whole issue draws its roots to the year 1945, when Mr. Prym is known to have let go of his Mercedes, for the benefit of an American soldier whom he supposedly sold it to. But now, the heirs of the Prym allege that the car was never really sold but instead, was stolen.
Quite remarkable is the history of the 500 K presented at RM Auctions, which clearly states the Mercedes’ interim history is unknown at this time, but when it turned up (…) in the 1970s, it was still in excellent original condition. More than 20 years of history is missing, but following this dark period the iconic Mercedes was owned by various American collectors before being added to the collection of Frans van Haren.
But now the heirs of Prym argue this car should belong to their family. Whatever the true motive of this claim and history of this car may be, it won’t change the fact that this car has already proven to be a nightmare for Frans van Haren. But how this bad dream will end will be decided in German court.