Hi readers. When Keith Kelt and I were kids in Portales there wasn’t a heluva lot to do. But occasionally a sideshow in a tractor-trailer would show up and park on the city square. Word spread quickly and lines of Portales adults and kids who could afford, what? A nickle? Must have been because I wouldn’t have been able to afford much more.
Anyway, one of those transit shows was Hitler’s car:
Hitler’s Car or should I say will the real Hitler’s Car please stand up!
I am looking for a photograph of Pete Sevich’s Hitler’s Armor-Plated Limousine display. I would also be interested in any other Hitler Car sideshows photos.Rick West, Nacogdoches Texas
Rick, as I was researching to answer your question I found that at the end of World War II, Many Mercedes Cars were imported from Europe and put on display on midways as Hitler’s personal limousine. I was unable to find a picture of Pete Sevich Armor Plated Limousine display but I have included three photographs. One of a Hitler Car on display in France and two others of Hitler in his personal limousine. In 1948 Christopher Janus first exhibited a Hitler car which drew large crowds while on display at the New York Museum of Science and Industry. The Amusement Corporation of America started their summer fairs in Springfield, III with his attraction. The car was supervised by Cliff Wilson and was driven to the Springfield fairgrounds. A newspaper reporter from Chicago rode along and it was reported that there were crowds of 5,000 people daily at 50 cents for Adults and 25 cents for children. There was also a photograph of Hitler in Berlin in 1941 riding in his car.
The description on display with the car stated, “All the glass on the vehicle is an inch and a half thick, right side front door is a built in case that holds a Luger pistol. Behind the rear seat is a leather covered sheet of armor that cranks up manually. The car has a 153 inch wheel base making it a long car. It is also heavy, weighing 9,500 pounds. It has an eight cylinder overhead valve motor capable of developing 230 horsepower. The transmission consists of five speeds forward and one reverse plus an overdrive that can be used at speeds up to 125 miles per hour. The large gas tank holds 60 gallons.”
The Hennies Brothers Shows exhibited the car in April of 1949 when they opened their tour in Little Rock Ark.
In 1972 the Miami Herald reported that a 770 K Mercedes was to be auctioned in Scottsdale Az. It was a car that Hitler, Mussolini and Mannerheim had ridden in on state occasions. The car was later shipped from Finland to Sweden so it wouldn’t be captured by the Russians. It was later traded to an American firm by the Swedish government.
Pete Sevich had his Hitler car on the World of Mirth shows in Pennsylvania. It was not the only Hitler car touring at the time. “Adolph Hitler’s Genuine Personal Armored Limousine” and, in parentheses, “Not One That He Just Rode In.” The Prospect Association which was the owner of this Hitler car mounted it in a semi trailer and sold 229,000 paid admissions at one exhibition. In 1957 the car was touring in Texas its owner put it up for sale advertising to the best offer over $3,500.
Pete Sevich on the 1957 World of Mirth Shows midways billed his exhibit as “Hitler’s $35,000 Armored Limousine.” Pete was still booking his car as late as 1966. The trailer it was exhibited on had a 28 foot display area for the car with an eight foot living area over the fifth wheel. Bill Hall bought the trailer so he could display his model of the World of Mirth Shows. Bill was a carnival showman, collector and did band organ restoration. He said the car later was proved to be a fraud and was taken off exhibition and sold for $30,000.
The War Museum in Canada which reported to have one of two real Hitler cars in North America. Their car was first exhibited to raise money to help pay off the war debt. The car was sold in 1956 and 14 years later it was acquired by the museum after it was shown at the Montreal exhibition Man and His World.
There was only one other authentic Hitler car and it had been on display at a Las Vegas casino called the Imperial Palace in there Auto Collection, which included rare models and dozens of vehicles once owned by the rich and infamous. There’s Czar Nicholas II’s 1914 Rolls Royce, Japanese Emperor Hirohito’s 1935 Packard and Adolf Hitler’s 1939 Mercedes. You can also see the cars of several US presidents, and Howard Hughes’ 1954 Chrysler (the air purifier cost more than the car). About 200 vehicles are on display. The museum is located in the Imperial Palace casino, on The Strip.
The owner of the Imperial Palace Ralph Engelstad who started the Auto Collection was a big fan of Nazi memorabilia and had a private “War Room” full of the Nazi Collectibles. He got in big trouble with the Nevada Gaming Control Board for having private parties celebrating Hitler’s birthday that included swastika cakes. He was investigated by the FBI for connections to Neo-Nazi groups. He died in 1993 and since then the Auto Collection has sold off some of there coolest cars, including the Hitler and Mussolini cars. I contacted The Auto Collection at the Imperial Palace which now only sales cars. I was told that 4 years ago the museum closed and they didn’t know where the Hitler Car or what the owner did with it.
There is also a car that might have been owned by Hitler on display at the roadside attraction “The Thing” in Arizona. “The Thing is … we can’t prove it”. http://www.roadsideamerica.com/attract/AZCOCthing.htmlJohn Robinson Sideshow World
Some information derived from AL Stencell Seeing is Believing
Another I recall was John Dillinger’s Terraplane. In those days it was black, though as I remember it. Interesting thing about it was the ash tray in the back seat opened to a tube he could pour roofing nails into. They’d exit from an exhaust-like pipe in back to give flats to pursuers.
The getaway car used by gangster John Dillinger in 1934 is on the move during this 77th anniversary of the infamous outlaw’s death.
Dillinger’s 1933 Essex Terraplane now is at the Richmond, Va., convention center, where it’ll stay until late next year. It had been on display 18 months at the Baltimore airport,
The car, valued at about $150,000, is on loan from the National Museum of Crime and Punishment in Washington, D.C. It was displayed there from 2008 until early 2010.
Dillinger escaped from the law several times before he was tracked to a Chicago theater and shot to death by police as he went for his gun when leaving the theater July 22, 1934.
Dillinger bought the Terraplane in March 1934 from the Potthoff Bros. Motor Co. in St. Paul, according to a history compiled by Brotman Winter Fried Communications, promoting the car’s exhibition. Dillinger and his brother, Hubert, crashed it into a farm field April 7, 1934, according to the history.
The dashing red Terraplane was more flamboyant than the infamous gray 1934 Ford V-8 used by robber Clyde Barrow and girlfriend Bonnie Parker at about the same time:
Barrow stole his ride, though, rather than buying it, and ran up some 2,500 miles before the end.
Barrow loved the car and wrote a letter to Henry Ford on April 10, 1934, to “tell you what a dandy car you make.
“I have driven Fords exclusively when I could get away with one. For sustained speed and freedom from trouble the Ford has got ever other car skinned, and even if my business hasn’t been strictly legal, it don’t hurt anything to tell you what a fine car you got in the V-8.”
Parker and Barrow were gunned down by police in a Louisiana ambush May 23, 1934. Their bullet-riddled Ford sedan has been a prized collector’s item and display piece.
The third one I remember was a lifesize rendition of The Last Supper. Hell, there might have been a lot more I didn’t get to see, or might have forgotten.
Jeanne remembers seeing one when she was a kid in Overland Park, Kansaas, that had props from popular movies. She only remembers the shoes Dorothy wore in Wizard of Oz.
If those were going around today they’d have to charge $25 per head to pay for the fuel and the local cops just to set up shop anywhere.