A 1939 Mercedes limousine used to ferry Adolf Hitler around Germany has failed to sell at auction because bids only reached $7 million. Ten per cent of the sale price was due to be donated to the Simon Wiesenthal Centre for Holocaust education.

The car is one of only four such models ever built and was to be sold at an auction in Arizona this week.

A portion of the proceeds from the of the car once used by Adolf Hitler were to be donated to the Simon Wiesenthal Center, an organization named after a famous Nazi hunter that is dedicated to Holocaust education and combating anti-Semitism, Fox News reported.

It's believed that the seller will donate 10 percent of the sale price to the center.
It's believed that the seller will donate 10 percent of the sale price to the center.

Powered by a 7.7-liter supercharged engine, capable of exceeding 160 kph, the Mercedes-Benz 770K Grosser - known to the world as the "Super Mercedes" - was a potent propaganda symbol of the Third Reich in which the Fuhrer rode while standing in the front seat.

The car has changed hands many times
The car has changed hands many times

Billed as "the most historically significant automobile ever offered for public sale," the imposing four-door convertible was offered to bidders at the Worldwide Auctioneers event in Scottsdale, Arizona, this week.

The car was used to ferry Hitler on his victory parade through Berlin following the stunning defeat of France, and for a state visit by Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini.

As the conflict turned in the Allies' favor, the car fell into disuse in France and was captured after the war by US forces who, apparently unaware of its provenance, put it into a military police motor pool.

After the war it went briefly to a private owner in Belgium before being sent to the US where it made its way to the Greenville, North Carolina bureau of Veterans of Foreign Wars, which used the car for parades, carrying dignitaries and Gold Star Mothers.

It then changed hands several more times within the US before being sold to a European collector in 2002, then to a Russian billionaire in 2009.

US media reports say it could sell for millions of dollars.

Worldwide Auctioneers did not reveal the current owner's identity but it is not thought to have been sold since that time.

"The purpose of this display is absolutely not to glorify Hitler and his destructive policies," the auction house wrote in a post on its website last week.

"It is to show you one of the outstanding cars of the century, built by gifted people, and representing the highest in craftsmanship.

"But it is also as a memorial to the fighting prowess of American soldiers that we take pride in displaying this showpiece of a fallen dictator. And above all, as a reminder that the evil which this car symbolizes, must never again be allowed to happen."

It added that 10% of the sale price "will be donated and used to educate how and why the Holocaust happened and how to effectively prevent such atrocities in the future."