770 Grosser

The Mercedes-Benz 770 Grosser; or Grand Mercedes; was one very big luxurious car. Produced from 1930 until 1943 it was almost inevitably provided to high-ranking officials of Germany's Third Reich. Many at the top of Germany's military machine were fond of driving around in large cars; and newsreel records show that officials such as Hermann Goring; Reinhart Heydrich (who died as a result of blood poisoning caused by horsehair stuffing from the seat of a staff car getting into his wounds during an assassination attempt); Heinrich Himmler; Erwin Rommel (who was badly injured in another staff car when he was attacked by a fighter plane); and Hitler himself used them on occasions.

Apart from the Germans Pope Pius XI and Emperor Hirohito of Japan owned one each, and it was rumoured that another one had been reserved for Edward VIII who Hitler wanted to install as a puppet king after the invasion of England which never, thank heaven, happened.

The car was powered by a straight eight cylinder OHC engine of 7655 cc capacity which produced 150 brake horsepower. A supercharger could be fitted which would raise the power output to 200 brake horsepower, giving a standard car a top speed of about 99 mph. Standard cars however were few and far between. Commonly they were fitted with bullet-proof glass, steel plating and reinforced steel undercarriages to protect against mines. These could add a considerable amount of extra weight which affected performance considerably.

One of the cars that was reputedly used by Adolf Hitler had 18 mm of steel armour plate, armoured steel wheels, and tyres divided into 20 separate chambers to make them more resistant to bullets. Another steel plate could be raised, between the driver and the rear passengers. There was even a space for storing machine pistols!

However; the 770 Grosser was not necessarily meant for roaring up and down the autobahns. It was a government state car to be used for special occasions.

Around 200 of these cars were built in Stuttgart. They were probably the most expensive cars available in Germany but no price was ever published. The only way to get one appeared to be with the approval of Adolf Hitler himself. Indeed some of them were given as gifts by Hitler to allies such as Spain's General Franco; Italy's Benito Mussolini; and Rumania's Ion Antonescu.

Another one was bought by the Portuguese security services for Antonio Salazar, the Portuguese dictator, after a bomb, meant for his assassination, exploded only 3 m away from him when he was on his way to a private mass. It is said however that he preferred an armoured Chrysler Imperial; possibly for diplomatic reasons.