After sixty-seven years, a Mercedes goes home


A Mercedes-Benz 500K taken by US troops at the end of WW II may be returned to the family of the original owner, according to a court in Germany.

The car belonged to a German industrialist, Hans Friedrich Prym, whose estate was commandeered by US troops towards the end of the war.  In that estate was his 1935 Mercedes-Benz 500K Spezial Roadster, and after the cease-fire, the car was taken to the US.  Hans Prym, at that stage was in prison, and it was not possible for him to do anything about the theft at that time.

Mercedes-Benz 500K Spezial Roadster. Mercedes-Benz 500K Spezial Roadster.

The car has chassis Number 105380 and it is known that it was built in 1935 at the Sindelfingen works and was the centerpiece of the Mercedes-Benz display at the Berlin Motor Show.  It was then purchased by Hans Friedrich Prym of Stolberg.

After the war, it was spirited away to the USA and did not surface again until it ended up in the collection of Russell Strauch in the 1970s.  It was then acquired by Don Dickson in 1976, and remained in his collection until 1988 when it was sold to Richie Clyne for the Imperial Palace Collection which commissioned a cosmetic restoration in 1991.  It was later purchased by the Lyon Family Collection.

Last year, the car was offered for sale by RM Auctions and it was then sold to a Dutch collector for almost US$4 million, who displayed the car at a show in Germany.

The car was recognized, and the heirs of Hans Prym have lodged a claim for return of the property to the Hans Prym estate.  A Hamburg court has now ruled that the car was taken unlawfully and that the family has a valid claim to ownership.

“The court has recognized our claim is valid and we will prepare the next stage and file suit for the car’s return.  The court decision was an important step toward restitution,” said Alexander Martius, the lawyer representing the heirs.  It was also found that the statute of limitations had not yet expired on the theft.

The Dutch collector has a fight on his hands!