Get ready for a fine barn finding story from a great CHB reader! It is just awesome to see stories from my precious readers. Thank you so much Simon for this intriguing story! : ) If you also have such a great story, don’t hesitate to share it with CHB.
When I was a young boy (that was a long time ago), I was always waiting for the weekends, because on Sunday we used to go for lunch at my Grandparents’ home. After the meal my beloved grandfather, a great car enthusiast, always liked to tell us some fairytale-like car stories. I remember those moments very well. My father, my uncle and I suddenly got sparkling eyes when it came to listen to grandpa’s marvelous stories. Such as the story of his 16 valve Bugatti Brescia, that he owned for just one week, the Rolls Silver Ghost converted into a towing car, but the most appreciated and sought after tale was for sure the story of the Autobahn Kurier near the lake…
Everyone was religiously listening to grandpa. Autobahn Kurier sounded a bit strange to me… somehow it gave me a feeling of fear, maybe due to the teutonic tone of the world itself, but at the same time by a kind of magic which comes over you when you are entering a completely new world you have never heard of before.
This particular story always began like this; (my grandpa, who then was an antiques dealer in Montreux, which is a very beautiful Swiss town on the shores of Lake Geneva – you will later see that this detail is important). One day in the early 50’s (according to both my uncle and father it was 1953), my grandpa was called to purchase old furniture and paintings from a gentleman’s estate.
These antiques were stored in a wonderful house from the Belle Epoque period, which had remained as when it was built. After having been introduced to the house’s master, it turned out that the guy was not exactly the typical gentleman… Not the average one let’s say! He was actually a very famous Swiss colonel, who had been in charge of the Swiss counter-spying during WW2.
My grandfather immediately recognized him, since he had a dubious reputation. He was known for having had very close relations and friendship with his German counterparts. Grandpa decided not to be put off by the Colonel’s past as they visited the different rooms of the beautiful house, all filled with precious objects. Finally they agreed on the price for the antiques.
Now here comes the best part of the story! My grandpa, dad and uncle, were about to leave the Colonel. The Colonel noticed our daily driver, a Mercedes 320 cabrio, which was quite an unusual car, particularly in those days. A practical car with enough room for a lot of furniture, after removal of the backseat (sic).
Suddenly… the Colonel said that he was owning a similar car, but bigger and with chromed exhaust pipes on the right side. Completely astonished by his words and more than interested they all asked the Colonel where he had parked this car. “In the garage, obviously”, the Colonel replied. “Would you like to see it and maybe buy it?”, he asked. As you can imagine, everyone will welcome such a proposal with great excitement. The garage doors opened… A very huge and dusty space, fully filled with boats and the Colonels daily driver, a Chrysler, appeared.
But then… in this Swiss version of the Ali Baba cavern, they saw the promised 540K Cabriolet, a B model, since it was a four seater. The 540K was lacquered in light blue and beige and had an immaculate tobacco interior. The tacho was reading a mere five thousand kilometers.
Behind this gorgeous Cabriolet, in the dark, something even more incredible appeared… The shape of an outrageously bodied coupé fitted with a superb fastback outline, on which only one little ovale window was managing some view for the driver. First my grandpa thought that it was a pregnant Beetle, because of its complete fastback shape. It was finished in an almost black midnight blue lacquer. As he was approaching the car, my grandfather noticed the same exhaust pipes as on the Cabrio…!
This car impressed all at first sight, such a fine design. Anyone with the privilege to stand next to her would definitely immediately fall in love with this special creation. My dad was almost terrified by its unique beauty as it was so huge and so long. But most of all he was scared to see Hitler or Goering jumping out of the car at any moment! I am sure you have already felt this sensation of fear when you see something you really don’t know anything about and had never expected to see. This was what we lucky Mercedes guests were experiencing at that moment.
They asked the Colonel if they could open the doors to see the gorgeous light grey upholstery with a complete black lacquered cockpit. All the traditional Benz gauges and commands were present. The interior showed two very wide seats and behind them a little leather retractable bench, made to host the luggage or some very small kids. Between the two front seats there was, on the passenger’s side, a little transformable table, made of chromed steel, as well as a little extra lamp on the ceiling. This equipment, according to the Colonel, was made to read the maps easily.
After having recovered their minds from this UNBELIEVABLE discovery, my grandpa noticed that the jewel was sitting on pads, and obviously the car hadn’t run for years…
Soon to be continued…
Written by Simon Haldy