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Patina meets efficiency.

Once a state carriage, now a collector’s item: Skyline Express and Lufthansa Cargo fly a classic car to an auction in the U.S.

With elegant verve yet vigorous, low-lying yet spacious – there can be no doubt about it: this old Mercedes is a real eye-catcher, and polarizes too. Simply because this kind of vehicle hardly exists any more. A look back into a different world, so to speak. Coveted and sought after. And that’s exactly why this Mercedes 770 W150, built in 1943, went on a journey to the U.S. at the end of July this year: to find a new owner at an auction for rare automobiles.

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Before that took place, however, Tim Bernard from the classic vehicle center Axel Schuette Classic Cars kept his eyes glued on the car. It was transported from Oerlinghausen near Bielefeld – where Schuette Classic Cars is based – to Frankfurt Airport in a vehicle from the freight forwarder Bobe. It was there that the handling specialists from Lufthansa Cargo took charge of the valuable freight. The estimated value of the rarity is well over one million euros.

The eight-cylinder vehicle built in Stuttgart nearly 70 years ago was a present at the time for the Turkish president. With the 770 he received the company’s top model. Bigger, better and more expensive than anything else back then. Mercedes itself called the car “Super Mercedes” in its English-language brochure. Customers included governments, heads of state, royal families, extremely rich people and celebrities. A total of only 88 cars were built.

Even in the crisis year 2009, the dealers specializing in buying and selling classic automobiles continued to do good business. “The classic vehicle market works like the art market,” says Tim Bernard. “Anyone who wants to buy a Van Gogh or a Picasso is going to buy.” Regardless of how the euro is high or low in relation to the dollar. After all, these are investment items. And that has long since applied to rarities like this Mercedes, too. During its history, therefore, it has had many owners. Only one thing has not changed: the older it became, the more money was paid for it.

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An item of cargo, therefore, which calls for quite a bit of attention. And specialists who are aware of their responsibility. That is why only the locally based logistics experts from Bobe and Skyline Express were considered for the job.

“We love challenges,” says Volker Sim, Managing Director of Skyline Express. “And we see ourselves as a premium provider.” Alongside “normal” cargo, Skyline Express recurrently has special cargo transportation on its agenda. “We are regularly entrusted with classic vehicles, racing cars, disassembled aircraft as well as works of art,” says Sim.

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In the case of this Pullman limousine with the three-pointed star, Skyline Express has taken over the entire responsibility for the export side – from the electronic export clearance and the dangerous goods declaration through to the choice of the suitable carrier. It is no coincidence that it picked Lufthansa Cargo. The airline with the crane emblem flies about 1,400 automobiles per year.

A niche market with growth potential, as the market for luxury automobiles is growing. The unbroken economic growth in China alone ensures a noticeable rise in demand. Many buyers there do not want to wait for weeks for delivery by ship and prefer to put their new Maybach or Rolls-Royce in tried-and-trusted airfreight company hands.

In addition to the great experience of Lufthansa Cargo, however, Volker Sim also attaches importance to a further aspect: “Our customers can expect a constant level of quality from us, and that means 24/7, 365 days a year.

We only achieve that with reliable partners, who set the same standards we apply. In Lufthansa Cargo we have found a partner who stands just as much for quality as for seamless communication. Working together with professionals pays off. Especially when it comes to such valuable and unique freight, where our nerves are obviously a little more on edge.”

At the scheduled departure time the Mercedes then left German ground on board an MD-11. At the airport of destination Los Angeles, Tim Bernard is also there. And once again he trusts in Skyline Express, who recommended a local partner here to him for import processing. Stowed in a special container, the 770 then moves on the Monterrey to be auctioned at the Crazy Car Week.
    
And the whole thing was done in style: the golf course of Pebble Beach, where, usually, Tiger Woods and other greats meet for training and international tournaments, belonged to the stars of the classic vehicle scene for a whole week.

Positioned between legendary sand bunkers and the putting green cultivated by hand at Hole 18, the Mercedes from Oerlinghausen was one of the stars of the auction. Tim Bernard: “This event is a kind of Oscar award ceremony for the classic from the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari, Bentley, Horch, Maybach and Bugatti. But long since also for rarities from Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Jaguar.”

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that this Mercedes Pullman also fetched a handsome sum of money: the auctioneer accepted the bid at 1.3 million dollars. Bernard’s advice to all those lucky new owners of a Porsche 964/993 RS, Mercedes 190 Evolution or other gems: “Take real care of them. They are the classic cars of the next generation but one!”

Photos:

Lufthansa Cargo, Patrick Pantze

planet 2/2010

In addition to the great experience of Lufthansa Cargo, however, Volker Sim also attaches importance to a further aspect: “Our customers can expect a constant level of quality from us, and that means 24/7, 365 days a year.

We only achieve that with reliable partners, who set the same standards we apply. In Lufthansa Cargo we have found a partner who stands just as much for quality as for seamless communication. Working together with professionals pays off. Especially when it comes to such valuable and unique freight, where our nerves are obviously a little more on edge.”

At the scheduled departure time the Mercedes then left German ground on board an MD-11. At the airport of destination Los Angeles, Tim Bernard is also there. And once again he trusts in Skyline Express, who recommended a local partner here to him for import processing. Stowed in a special container, the 770 then moves on the Monterrey to be auctioned at the Crazy Car Week.

And the whole thing was done in style: the golf course of Pebble Beach, where, usually, Tiger Woods and other greats meet for training and international tournaments, belonged to the stars of the classic vehicle scene for a whole week.

Positioned between legendary sand bunkers and the putting green cultivated by hand at Hole 18, the Mercedes from Oerlinghausen was one of the stars of the auction. Tim Bernard: “This event is a kind of Oscar award ceremony for the classic from the likes of Mercedes, Ferrari, Bentley, Horch, Maybach and Bugatti. But long since also for rarities from Porsche, Alfa Romeo and Jaguar.”

It is hardly surprising, therefore, that this Mercedes Pullman also fetched a handsome sum of money: the auctioneer accepted the bid at 1.3 million dollars. Bernard’s advice to all those lucky new owners of a Porsche 964/993 RS, Mercedes 190 Evolution or other gems: “Take real care of them. They are the classic cars of the next generation but one!”

 

Photos:

Lufthansa Cargo, Patrick Pantze

planet 2/2010