Was John Lennon a KGB agent

Available again: Brezhnev's Mercedes

Leonid Brezhnev loved the hunt. Some say: also hunting on the street. The "Gensek", the most powerful man in the Soviet Union for 18 years, is said to have had a weakness for luxurious and fast cars. At least that is what people around him and foreign politicians have repeatedly claimed. The Kremlin boss is even credited with a number of traffic accidents that he is said to have caused himself, for example in 1973 near Bonn, when he allegedly took a test drive in a Mercedes Coupé 450 SLC, which the then Chancellor Willy Brandt had given him as a present got off the road.

What is certain is that in the “Garage for Special Purposes” in Moscow a lot of exclusive models from western production were represented. Formally, they did not belong to Brezhnev. The vehicle fleet was under the 9th KGB administrative office at the Council of Ministers of the Soviet Union, which was responsible for securing state receptions and other high-level meetings. But in fact it was a question of personal gifts to the Soviet leader. It is not known that they were ever used by others.

West car with East vita

Brezhnev died in 1982, whereas at least some of the luxury cars scattered around the world are still in top condition today. Without a doubt, this applies to a Mercedes-Benz 600 in black metallic paint, delivered brand 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 in small numbers from 1963 to 1981, each car is a one-off. John Lennon had one, Udo Juergens, the Japanese emperor Hirohito - and Leonid Brezhnev.

This superlative car was both representative and comfortable, and with a top speed of 205 kilometers per hour, it was absolutely brisk when needed. Individual features of the specimen made for Moscow: gray leather seats, a solid bench at the front and a hydraulically operated partition to the rear, which was only installed once, namely in this vehicle.

After Brezhnev's death and in the course of the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the unique specimen came to Germany under unexplained 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 as part of an enforcement procedure, the following year it was shut down, but in 2008 it was bought by a bidder under the pseudonym "buggy9" at a highly regarded auction. The buyer, a Burkhard S. from North Rhine-Westphalia, had the fun cost 103,600 euros.

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 construction. The mileage has hardly changed since then. Today the speedometer shows 91,400 kilometers, around 900 kilometers more than eleven years ago. Apparently Burkhard S. could not derive much utility from his expensive toy. Now he wants to sell the classic car, which was almost exclusively in the garage.

"The car is looking for a new home in its old homeland."

Burkhard S. does not speak to the press, so he asked his friend Gilbert Gratzel to do this. He explains: “For a long time nobody could see the car, but it's a rolling history book and especially interesting for the public in Russia. Let's put it this way: They are looking for a new home in their old homeland. "

We have begun to make appropriate contacts: to the Russian ambassador in Germany, to Gazprom, to the new Mercedes-Benz car plant near Moscow. “Maybe they would put the car in their own foyer, where it is accessible to everyone?” Asks Gratzel.

It remains to be clarified whether Leonid Brezhnev ever drove his Mercedes-Benz 600. This is not proven, one can only guess. But if he was the car freak that chroniclers describe him as, could he have left it at just looking?

Tino Künzel / Photos: Janosch Gruschczyk