EBay Refuses to Sell Car Once Belonging to Nazi

BOCA RATON, Fla. (Sun Sentinel/MCT) -

What Boca Raton auto dealers consider a war trophy symbolic of America’s finest triumph is proving too hot to handle.

The auction site eBay has declined to post for auction a 1941 Mercedes Benz 540K Cabriolet that was special-ordered by Nazi officer Hermann Goering and is now being restored.

EBay’s refusal will end chances that the car gets high-profile attention, fears Steven Saffer, general manager of High Velocity Classics, which is restoring the car.

“We’re almost at a dead end,” he said.

Saffer estimates that it’s going to cost about $750,000 to restore the car. Restored, it will be worth between $5 million and $7 million, he estimates.

Saffer doesn’t want to see the car remain garaged. “It’s too valuable as a piece of history,” he said.

Ryan Moore, a spokesman for eBay in an email: “EBay has policies that prohibit the sale of offensive materials and content, including Nazi-related items.”

But there is a fine line between what some see as historical artifacts and what others consider offensive.

Saffer said that he considers the Goering car a piece of history and that eBay’s refusal amounts to a kind of denial of its significance.

But eBay is following its established policy, which prohibits items that promote or glorify hatred, violence, racial, or religious intolerance. And, in practice, that means a ban on the sale of specific items from Nazi Germany — the only political regime that’s specifically mentioned in eBay’s banned list.

Saffer says he has the documents from Mercedes and the U.S. Army to prove this vehicle was Goering’s and was seized in the last days of World War II.

It was found by the 7th Infantry of the U.S. Army and soon became the staff car of Col. John Heintges, after it was painted green with a white command star, Saffer says.