East German dictator's fleet of nearly new stretch limousines go under hammer
Saturday 15 November 2003
Seven Volvo stretch limousines once used by former Communist East Germany's politburo are up for auction at a fraction of their original price after being left virtually untouched for 13 years.
The Prussian blue cars used by Erich Honecker, a former Communist leader, are available on the Net at a starting price of €80,000 (£124,000) for the whole fleet. "The cars are a piece of German history," said Holger Emmerich, a Hamburg businessman who organised the auction.
"We've had Italian, Czech and Bulgarian private collectors calling, but I'd prefer it if a museum bought them and put them on show to the public. The Volvos were ordered from Sweden only five years before the fall of the Berlin Wall. Driving capitalist West German Mercedes was ideologically "verboten". The limousines were part of a huge fleet that included a Range Rover and a Soviet Zil limousine that ferried Mikhail Gorbachev about on a visit to East Berlin weeks before Mr Honecker was toppled from power in 1989. Mr Honecker was only once able to show the vehicles off to his wealthy capitalist neighbours in 1987, during his first and only visit to West Germany. After unification the cars were bought by Hilfried Schoenberger, an eccentric west German millionaire, for about €125,000.
In 1993, as a joke, he toured the former East Germany in the cars with an actor posing as Mr Honecker. Some people were so moved that they wept, recalled Mr Emmerich. Mr Schoenberger died shortly after and the Volvos were at his home in Lower Saxony, until the auction began last month.
The cars bear original number plates and state flags. They also have heated mirrors and electric-powered windows. "For all their swank, the interior of the limousines are as proletarian as Mr Honecker himself," said Der Spiegel magazine.
Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart bromance continues: X-Men star gushes about 'pussy cat' BFF Patrick Stewart
David Cameron stung by jellyfish: PM hurt after ignoring advice of locals while on holiday
South Korea ferry: Vice principal rescued from sinking ship found hanged
Kim Jong-un, crowds and contraband: Inside North Korea with the Pyongyang marathon winner
Cover up! Mother told to show less cleavage during Disneyland family trip: 'Are we supposed to wear turtlenecks our whole lives?'
The food poverty scandal that shames Britain: Nearly 1m people rely on handouts to eat – and benefit reforms may be to blame
US Navy christens huge $3 billion destroyer ship USS Zumwalt that appears as a fishing boat on enemy radar
Scottish independence: It is the English who should be on their knees, begging the Scots to vote ‘No’
Nigel Farage fatigue? Half of voters ‘immune’ to Ukip’s appeal
Nigel Farage: I’m taking on the status quo, and the Establishment’s fighting back
'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
- 1 Dylan Tombides: West Ham confirm 20-year-old striker has died after battle with cancer
- 2 'Sinful': Video of British Muslims dancing to Pharrell Williams's hit Happy comes under attack
- 3 24 people applied for the 'world's toughest job', here are their interviews
- 4 Angus Steakhouse: How does tourist staple continue to thrive in today's gourmet market?
- 5 Cover up! Mother told to show less cleavage during Disneyland family trip: 'Are we supposed to wear turtlenecks our whole lives?'
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is a company that specializ...
£153.75 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company is an innovative outsourcin...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: This company has been providing on site ...
£150.00 per week: QA Apprenticeships: We've been supplying best of breed peopl...