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In 1938, Mercedes-Benz began production of the largest, most luxurious limousine in the world. Twenty feet long, upholstered in glove leather, and bullet-proof, the Grosser 770K was a sumptuous monster with a monstrous patron: Adolph Hitler and the Nazi party.
Most of the 770Ks didn’t make it out of WWII. But several of them did, two finding their way to the United States.
In The Devil’s Mercedes, author Robert Klara uncovers the story of how Americans responded to these relics of fascism on their soil. The limousines made headlines, drew crowds, made fortunes and ruined lives. They also entangled the country in a game of intrigue and mistaken identity.
Nobody knew that the limousine touted as Hitler’s had in fact never belonged to him, while the Mercedes shrugged off as a staff car—one later sold off—turned out to be none other than Hitler’s personal limo.
It would take 40 years, a cast of carnies and millionaires, the US Army, and the research of a librarian to bring the truth to light.
This remarkable retelling probes the power of these haunting hulks’ to attract, excite and disgust. Ultimately, The Devil’s Mercedes isn’t only the story of a notorious car, but what it taught postwar America about itself.