Leonid Brezhnev loved hunting. Some say: even hunting on the road. The "Gensek", for 18 years the most powerful man in the Soviet Union, is said to have had a weakness for luxurious and fast cars. This at least was repeatedly by people from his environment. Claimed by foreign politicians. The Kremlin leader is even credited with some traffic accidents that he is said to have caused himself, such as in 1973 near Bonn, when he allegedly drove off the road in a Mercedes 450 SLC coupe given to him by then Chancellor Willy Brandt during a test drive.
It is certain that the "Garage for Special Purposes" in Moscow contained a large number of exclusive models from Western production. Formally they did not belong to Brezhnev. The fleet was under the 9. KGB administrative office at the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, it was responsible for securing state receptions and other high-level meetings. But de facto, these were personal gifts to the Soviet leader. That they would ever have been used by others is not known.
Western car with Eastern vita
Brezhnev died in 1982, whereas at least some of the noble cars scattered all over the world are still in top condition today. Without any doubt this applies to a Mercedes-Benz 600 in black metallic paint, delivered factory-new to Moscow in 1966 and registered there two years later. At that time, the 600 was considered the ultimate in automotive engineering. A status symbol, produced from 1963 to 1981 in small numbers, each car a unique specimen. John Lennon had one, Udo Jürgens, the Japanese emperor Hirohito – and Leonid Brezhnev. This superlative car was both prestigious and comfortable. With a top speed of 205 kilometers per hour, it can be quite nippy when needed. Individual features of the specimen made for Moscow: gray leather seats, a continuous bench seat in front as well as a hydraulically operated separating disk to the rear, which was installed only once, namely in this vehicle.
The unique piece came to Germany after Brezhnev's death and in the course of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 under unclear circumstances. The new owner Wolfgang H. From Berlin had the car extensively restored with original parts. But in 1997, it was seized by the Potsdam tax office in enforcement proceedings, shut down the following year, but in 2008, at a high-profile auction, a bidder under the pseudonym "buggy9". The buyer, a Burkhard S. From North Rhine-Westphalia, had the fun 103.600 euros cost.
900 kilometers in eleven years
The car was registered with the license plate EN-ZK 66 H. "ZK" stands for "Central Committee of the CPSU" and "66" for the year of manufacture. Since then, the mileage has hardly changed. Today the speedometer shows 91.400 kilometers, around 900 kilometers more than eleven years ago. Burkhard S. Apparently could not get much use out of his expensive toy. Now he wants to sell the classic car, which was almost only in the garage.
"The car is looking for a new home in the old one."
Burkhard S talks to the press. Not, with it he assigned his friend Gilbert Gratzel. He explains: "For a long time no one could see the car, but it is a rolling history book and especially interesting for the public in Russia. Let's put it this way: It is looking for a new home in the old homeland."
Contacts have been established with the Russian ambassador in Germany, Gazprom, and the new Mercedes-Benz car plant near Moscow. "Maybe they would put the wagon in their foyer, where it is accessible to all?", asks Gratzel.
It remains to be clarified whether Leonid Brezhnev ever drove his Mercedes-Benz 600. This is not proven, one can only assume it. But if he was the car nut, as which the chroniclers describe him, he could have left it with the looking at?