• Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz Archives, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz Archives, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Image Credit: Bobby'Dine Rodda
  • Image Credit: Mercedes-Benz Archives, Stuttgart, Germany
  • Image Credit: Johnny Tergo
  • Image Credit: Johnny Tergo
  • Image Credit: Johnny Tergo
  • Image Credit: Johnny Tergo
  • Image Credit: Johnny Tergo
  • Image Credit: Johnny Tergo
  • Image Credit: Johnny Tergo
  • Image Credit: Johnny Tergo
  • Image Credit: Johnny Tergo
Being agriculturally inclined to build barns in the country, we don't expect barn finds to turn up in the middle of a high-turnover metropolis. Yet that's been happening more regularly of late, and writer Michael Mraz has found another example in South Central, Los Angeles: a one-of-one Mercedes-Benz 1935 Caracciola 500K built especially for Silver Arrows race driver Rudolph Caraccioloa. It is pictured above in better days, after having been restored and displayed on the lawn at the Pebble Beach concours in the late 1970s.

What's amazing about the Caracciola 500K, and tragic for car lovers, is that it has a good deal of company: in a piece called "Wheels of Fortune" in the February issue of Town & Country magazine, Mraz found scaffolds full of vintage metal in awful condition, rusting outside in a parts yard called Porche Foreign Auto. They include:

...a pair of one-off prewar Maybachs; one of two Iso Grifo Spyders (designed and engineered by Giotto Bizzarrini, who also has the Ferrari 250 GTO on his résumé); one of 29 alloy-bodied Mercedes Gullwings...; a couple of BMW 502s and 507s; a half-dozen or so Lamborghini Miuras, with their mighty V12 engines; and the last surviving example of the seven Horch 855 Spezial Roadsters ever built, a specimen once owned by Eva Braun that was for a time on loan to the Audi Museum in Germany. (Audi was founded by August Horch.) Parked one on top of the other are dozens upon dozens of Porsche Carrera carcasses....

Porche Foreign Auto was started in 1967 by a German butcher named Rudi Klein, who bought the Caracciola 500K after it was shown at Pebble in 1978. He took it to a Mercedes show in Newport Beach in 1980, and when it wouldn't start he loaded it on a trailer and took it home. It hasn't been seen since, outside of the parts yard.

Klein passed away, and his salvage yard is overseen by his sons, who won't let any gawkers into to view the cars. Even Mraz was denied entry. But he spoke to folks who have seen the collection, and one said that there are vehicles people have sought for decades and thought had been destroyed. The head of the Mercedes Classic Center in Irvine believes the Caracciola 500K could be worth more than the 1937 540K Spezial Roadster that was auctioned for nearly $10 million at last year's RM Auctions at Pebble. But we might never know.

Town & Country doesn't have a proper website, so pick up the magazine to read the piece and see what the automotive world is missing. There's a sample of it in the attached gallery, but be warned, it's not pleasant to see.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 74 Comments
      JR
      • 3 Years Ago
      Stupid hoarders.
      sick of stupidity
      • 3 Years Ago
      This reminders me of the salvage (junk) yard in my home town that was run by friends of my parents...these people were nothing more then hillbillies with money. The day made the millions (literally) and the redneck sons slowly ran the shop into the ground...I remember the husband having a brand new F350 every year but the wife would be driving a 20 year old oldsmobile with 4 different color panels (again these people has major bank) but I digress... The car was a museum to American muscle...many in great shape. They still ran their salvage for late model cars but the brothers would never part with any of the muscle cars (100+ in my estimates) because like all good hillbillies with a Nova on blocks...they were quite sure they were going to fix them up. They didn't want the money because they already had the money...it was their weird trophy case full of amazing cars that others would kill for. I eventually (through my mom) got a 1967 442 Convertible out of them that we restored with minimal effort but I think I was one of the chosen few to ever get a car out of the back lot.
      Devin Christiansen
      • 3 Years Ago
      Hard for me to read this.
      parisaudio1
      • 3 Years Ago
      In studying the pictures, my imagination ran wild, and there is a porsche in about pic 9, that i have been studying for an hour now. My mind wants to convince me it's Lil' bastard. I realize I am most likely wrong, but it occurs to me, that the reason they won't let any one in there, is that there are cars that shouldn't be there. I once worked in such a place after my friends father died. It took us about 2 weeks to get rid of all the hot parts before the appraisers came through. We found almost an entire toyota camry cut into pieces, in the boiler room of one of his apartment buildings. I mean everything. If no one can get in to get parts, what kind of a salvage yard is this? where is their income coming from? It will be interesting to see what unfolds.....
        • 3 Years Ago
        @parisaudio1
        [blocked]
        George
        • 3 Years Ago
        @parisaudio1
        It's a fun thought, but "Lil' Bastard" was a 550 Spyder. The car I think you're looking at (the rusted and crushed one, slightly right of center next to white 911) is most likely a 356B.
      ANTON
      • 3 Years Ago
      Bet Jay Leno is screaming NOOOOOO. that these cars were right near him and he had no idea. I agree, if you do not care about them don't let them rot, sell them or donate them to be restored. They are a big part of auto history. I read somewhere long ago that when Karl Benz was creating the combustion engine that he was stuck on the amount of gas flow through the carburetor, one night he was in bed and his wife was putting on her perfume using those old squeeze bulb bottles and seen how it would mist. That is how he over came the fuel problem, turing it into a mist. Karl Benz was amazing, a true visionary.
      PheelACCD
      • 3 Years Ago
      Is there anything that can be done about this? such a shame... I'd love to see an interview of the owners and understand the thought process there.
      chrisharmon37
      • 3 Years Ago
      pretty good front for an illegal business, must be because they have a fortune in there, no one sits on a treasure trove like that, unless they don't want anyone to know whats REALLY going on in there
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Gerardo Rabelo
      • 3 Years Ago
      I probably live very close to that scrap yard, its probably one of the one that run on Alameda between Florence ave and 103rd . I see piles of rusted classic cars all the time, and it hurts every-time I see them. I wish i had the money and the time. http://maps.google.com/?ll=33.969924,-118.233758&spn=0.00517,0.010568&t=h&z=17&vpsrc=6
      marjorum
      • 3 Years Ago
      In the early 1960s behind a gas station in Rockford, Illinois, I found a Jag XK-120 completely exposed to the weather and with weeds growing up through the floorboards. The ragtop had rotted away. On the dashboard was a plaque reading "This car was driven by Charleton Heston in the movie The Greatest Show on Earth." I inquired in the gas station about buying the car, but was told to "join the list" of prospective buyers. Two years later the car was still there and in worse condition from when I saw it. While this Jag had/has neither the desireability nor the value of the other cars in this article, it certainly illustrates that maybe the personality behind the refusal to care for valuable items is not so rare.
      caddy-v
      • 3 Years Ago
      There was, at least ten years ago, a scrap yard iin Harvey Illinois that catered to cars in pre-70's. Problem was, he'd never part with the parts. I was restoring a 69 Chevelle and went looking for parts there and to my amazement there was a 66 Chevelle SS 396 ragtop that he had since 68 with side damage. I practically got on my hand and knees begging for the car at any price he wanted. He refused, claiming someday he wanted to fix it up. He was 92 at the time. The scrap yard is no longer there and the word is the 50 some vintage including a Cord and two Edsels cars were melted down into Toyota's
      charlcreat
      • 3 Years Ago
      What are the sons waiting for? Those cars which can still be restored should be auctioned off. I watched a 66 Pontiac GTO sitting behind a landscape company holding yard and rotting away, literally because the owner wouldn't part with it. Clearly not in the same category but it was worth something 20 years ago and would be worth more now had it been restored. A 1037 one of a kind doesn't belong behind a fence.
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