The Führer's Vehicles From the Birth of the Nazi Party to the Fall of the Third Reich
Imprint: Frontline Books
224 Pages, 6.8 x 9.7 in, 100 mono integrated illustrations
- September 2023
Many are the photographs of Hitler standing proudly in the passenger seat of a midnight blue Mercedes, arm outstretched in his famous salute to the adoring German crowds. Hitler loved cars and loved to be seen in and next to the special automobiles he purchased or was presented with through friends and Nazi Party funds.
His first car was a 1920 green Selve 8/30, purchased in 1922, which was soon disposed of in favor of a Daimler-built Mercedes 15/70/100 – and from that moment on every car in which Hitler was chauffeured around the Third Reich and occupied countries would be a Mercedes. Indeed, even while in Landsberg prison following his failed putsch in 1923, he was writing to a Mercedes-Benz car salesman in Munich about his next car, concerning the merits of the Benz 11/40 versus the larger 16/50. It was a grey 11/40 in which Hitler was driven away from Landsberg on his release in 1924.
It was in his next car – a super-charged Mercedes-Benz 15/70/100 – that Hitler was involved in an accident with a large truck in March 1930. The truck was completely wrecked while the large Mercedes suffered only minor damage. This prompted Hitler to remark: ‘It was then I decided to use only a Mercedes for the rest of my life.’
From 1930 onwards, Hitler was driven around in a Mercedes-Benz 770, also known as the Grosser Mercedes. Only 205 of these huge, luxury cars were manufactured with many of those being used by top-ranking Nazis.
Such was Hitler’s interest in cars, he arranged state sponsorship for Mercedes and Porsche (Auto Union) to participate in Grand Prix racing (today’s F1). So strong was the resulting financial support that German teams swept all before them between 1935 and 1939.
Security was always a great concern of Hitler and his entourage and his 770 was protected with bullet-proof windows and steel armor-plate built into all metal work. Wartime brought increased security fears, resulting in another Mercedes entering the German leader’s car collection. This was the heavily armored, six-wheel G4, the first off-road Mercedes, in which Hitler could safely parade through the streets of conquered lands.
As well as providing photographs of Hitler’s cars and the men who became his chauffeur, John Starkey lists the technical specifications of those cars, and describes many of the journeys undertaken by the German leader over the course of two dramatic decades.