Significant world event car. A historical treasure that belongs in your world-class Mercedes collection. Some of the special features include: high torque engine, telephone, parade light, siren, flag holder hood ornament and “Polar-matic” air-conditioning. All of the documentation seems to show that this was owned Nicaragua’s first family. Documentation on the photo page (please satisfy yourself as to its authenticity).
A Man and His Car
On Wednesday, September 17, 1980 Anastasio Somoza Debayle climbed into his white 1979 Mercedes Benz limousine. Seven blocks later, a bazooka rocket hit the limo broadside tearing away the roof.
Somoza and his long-time faithful driver, Senor Julio Cesar Gallardo, were killed.
The Somoza family’s 43-year dynasty had finally come to an end. From 1936 to 1979, the Somozas had ruled Nicaragua and accumulated personal assets totaling $400 million.
This Mercedes Benz was part of this fortune. “The most elegant car in the world,” the Mercedes Benz 300d had a distinctive regal appearance that was unmatched by any car on the road. It was also touted as being large and powerful. These adjectives made the Mercedes an icon for Somoza’s ego image, “Ownership was the mark of a man who had reached the top.”
The Making of Somoza’s 300
From an official Daimler-Benz letter in our possession it appears that Luis Somoza officially ordered this Mercedes on September 14, 1957. Mr. Somoza communicated to Daimler-Benz Aktiengesellschaft that this limousine was to have special equipment. Chassis number 7500143 was built with a high torque fuel-injected engine, double acting telescopic coil springs, refrigeration, radio-telephone, military siren and blue lamp. Mr. Somoza stated that since the automobile was of pillarless design, his intended use did not require armor-plating. On March 2, 1958, the auto was shipped to Nicaragua on the S.S. Hein Hoyer owned by Hanseatic Vaase Line.
Somoza’s Christmas Present
Twenty years later, on December 14, 1977, A. Somoza (Anastasio) wrote an official letter from Casa Presidencial, Hacienda El Retiro to Senor Julio Cesar Gallardo expressing the family’s appreciation for his service and telling him he would be given his brother Luis’ car that had been in the family for so long. Somoza said the car would be legally transferred to Gallardo on December 23. He wished Gallardo “feliz navidad” (Merry Christmas) and referred to their relationship with the term, “amigos”.
On December 23, 1977, A. Somoza and Gallardo signed a Bill of Sale for un cordoba C$1.00. The document number on the carta de vente (bill of sale) was 0,003,428. The document stated that the vehicle was a blue 1958 Mercedes Benz limousine 300d with chassis number 7500143.
The paper was officially stamped and signed by Dr. Ulises Fonesca Talavera, a Notario Publico who still lives in Nicaragua to this day. In the Carta de Vente, Gallardo agreed to restore the car in minute detail as assessed by Senor Carlos Jose Mendoza of the Mercedes-Benz agency in Managua. Gallardo agreed that the car was to be considered as a museum piece and a national treasure. Gallardo promised that it would never leave its homeland of Nicaragua.
Gallardo kept his word. He had the car restored. On August 4 1978, the Club de Vehiculos Clasicos de Nicaragua awarded Julio Cesar Gallardo first place for Concurso de Elegancia.
When Gallardo signed the Carta de Vente, he had every intention of honoring the agreement to keep the car in the country of Nicaragua as a national treasure.
The Sandinista Period
When the Sandinistas came to power in 1979 they released Decree #3 (Decreto No. 3, Aprobado el 20 de julio de 1979) which was for the confiscation of all Somoza family property. This decree extended to all Somoza family, soldiers, officers and presumably associates who left the country. We have to assume that Anastasio’s long time chauffeur. According to documents with the car, the same Carlos Jose Mendoza of the Mercedes agency in Managua delivered the car to the port for export to California and its new owner. Since previously the Somozas owned this Mercedes agency we have to assume it was now under government control.
Somoza rests in peace in Miami, Florida.
1-1-1937 Anastasio Somoza Garcia is elected President of Nicaragua
9-1956 A. S. Garcia is assassinated and his son Luis Somoza Debayle succeeds him and is elected president several months later.
9-14-1957 Daimler-Benz receives the order for a model 300c (this car) from their agent in Managua – A. Somoza h. & Cia (See official Daimler-Benz letter)
1963 Rene Schick Gutierrez is elected president.
2-3-1966 Anastasio Somoza Garcia’s second son, Anastasio Somoza Debayle, is elected president.
1967 Luis Somoza Debayle dies of a heart attack
5-1972 The Nicaraguan Congress dissolves, Somoza Resigns
12-1972 An earthquake levels Managua and Anastasio Somoza takes control of the government again
1974 Under a new constitution, Somoza is again elected president.
12-14-1977 Anastasio Somoza writes letter informing his long time chauffeur Gallardo that he intends to give him his brother’s car
12-23-1977 Bill of Sale signed by Anastasio Somoza and notarized by Dr. Ulises Fonseca Talavera transferring the Mercedes to Julio Cesar Gallardo for Cordoba C$1.00
8-4-1978 Gallardo wins Primer Lugar or First Place with the car at the Concurso de Elegancia of Santo Domingo de Guzman
8-1978 Sandinistas storm the National Palace, taking government officials hostage and demanding the release of political prisoners.
7-17-1979 Somoza resigns and flees the country with one hundred associates and family.
7-20-1979 New government nationalizes the country’s major assets including those of the Somoza family with official Decree No. 3 (see the pdf file of this decree)
8-21-1980 The Mercedes is exported to the U.S. (delivered to the port by Carlos Jose Mendoza of the M-B agency in Managua) View the letter. View the envelope.
9-17-1980 Anastasio Somoza Debayle and his chauffeur Julio Gallardo are killed in a bazooka attack in Paraguay
11-1980 Ronald Reagan is elected President of the U.S.
1982 Covert aid to the contra rebels is approved by U.S. congressional intelligence committees
Most of the non-automotive history above provided courtesy of Harvard Law School