PEBBLE BEACH, Calif. -- It's an elegant old car like so many others, but this one has an amazing history -- with a connection to the sinking of the liner Titanic.
Gerhard and Adrienne Schnuerer of Huntington Beach, Calif., are owners of this one-of-a-kind 1911 Benz, rare because of its German heritage and New York coachwork.
The car was ordered by Charles Hayes, a railroad tycoon from Chicago who went down with the Titanic after she struck an iceberg. Part of his legacy becomes the car he left behind -- although he never saw it. It was still being built when he died.
The 1911 Benz -- forerunner to the Mercedes-Benz -- has a 6.75-liter, four-cylinder engine and was one of the more expensive cars of its day, according to its official history for the Pebble Beach Concours d'Elegance, where we saw it last month. It cost $8,500 new, more than 10 times the price of the cheapest Ford Model T.
Gerhard Schnuerer says the car was left to a chauffeur, who kept it for 25 years. It changed hands a few more times until about six years ago when it came in to possession of the Schuerers, who vowed to bring it back to original -- or better -- condition.
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