• May 20, 2006

First Sgt. William von Zeal did a little shopping while stationed in Iraq with the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion-- he picked up what is believed to be Saddam Hussein's 1988 Mercedes-Benz 560 SEL for around $5,000 from a private owner in Baghdad.

The white Benz in question was fitted with armor plating, loudspeakers, hidden microphones, and... wait for it... flame throwing side pipes. Likely one of three such white Benzes, Von Zeal has yet to definitively prove that his car was Hussein's, but he does have some clues, including a sales receipt listing "the Iraqi government" as previous owners.

But the reservist may not get the chance to prove its provenance once and for all, because he no longer has the car in his possession-- Federal customs agents seized it in New Haven, Connecticut, and are treating it as a "possible war trophy." The car is being held by the government because of potential infringement upon federal smuggling law violations, along with possible breach of an executive order banning the importation of items owned of the former Iraqi government.

Federal agents were holding the car while investigating possible violations of federal smuggling laws, as well as an executive order barring the importation of property from the former Iraqi regime.

Von Zeal has not been charged with any crimes, but the future of the car and the case is uncertain. At least one Autoblogger hopes he gets his ride back... or better yet, CNN officially declares it will never to use the word 'Pimped' in another headline ever again. Ever.

[Source: The Associated Press via CNN; LyricsFreak]

*(With sincerest apologies to Janis Joplin and Keith Barry, our tipster who came up with the reinterpreted ditty that we can't get out of our heads. Because our friends all drive Porsches, we must make amends)



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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 11 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      Even if he is allowed to keep it, importing it to the US will be a problem.

      I doubt that it qualifies as a display car, and thus will have to meet EPA and DOT standards. Bullet proof glass is nice, but dosn't meet the AS-1 requirement, and the flame throwers...maybe they bypass the catalytic converter?

      Lance Beyer, esq.
      specialist in motor vehicle importations
      • 8 Years Ago
      Sweet! Particularly jazzed about the flame throwing side pipes. A must for any casual cruiser...

      Side note: constant loop of catchy tune in the brain much appreciated.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Let him keep it. It's one great car for dispersing crowds.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Haha, whoops, I mean "breach". Always nice to screw up when you're correcting someone!
      Betty Neuleib-Stone
      • 8 Years Ago
      Cool! Let the guy keep the car. There should be some "Bennz's" for our guys who go far from home to
      fight for our Country. The Military should use it as
      a Recruiting Strategy. Salary with full "Bennz's"
      • 8 Years Ago
      Uh...that's "breached"...just FYI...
      • 8 Years Ago
      I'm rather a fan of the W126 Benzes myself.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Nice it's in New Haven? that's like 30 minutes away. I wanna go see it haha.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It’s been leaked to the press that Dick Cheney has concrete evidence of WMDs in the trunk. Joe Wilson calls [3[_]115[-]17!

      Q Branch reports top secret flame throwing technology stolen after agent 007 had a few too many martinis and crashed his Aston trying to avoid a speed camera.
      gbh
      • 8 Years Ago
      Did the Sgt. actually believe he was gonna get that thing into the country? Wow...

      He has a snowball's chance in hell proving it's not 'booty'. If it did belong to Saddam, I have my serious doubts that he would have put an ad in the paper and sold it to some 'private owner' in Baghdad. Especially when he was still in power. I think Customs will continue to doubt it as well.

      The only person who is allowed to have illegal war booty is the commander-in-chief. He can even show it to reporters on television.

      The military has really tightened up on 'souveniers' over the years. With the exception of a whole lotta US currency (real and not), and the odd munition here and there, it does not seem that much is going to leave Iraq and make it stateside.
      • 8 Years Ago
      What if they saw the top off, and try to import it as a convertible, without the windows? ...I've seen it done.