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Rare Horch 855 Spezial Roadster missing from Yanukovych car collection

Andriy Yatsulyak, Ukrainian magazine Autocentre — A ZiL 41047, far left, sits next to a ZiL 410441 and a GAZ 14 at the Mezhihirya garage.

Ukraine’s president Viktor Yanukovych, now hiding in Russia, seemed to have everything imaginable and unimaginable in his car collection on the Dnieper River. Everything from a fiberglass-bodied Ford Custom Coupe based on a 1994 Ford Mustang, to an early post-war GAZ M20 Pobeda.

A couple days ago, we gave you an exclusive look at his collection in detail, showing all the vehicles that anti-Yanukovych activists and journalists saw when they made their way to the compound following Yanukovych’s hasty departure for Sevastopol by helicopter. It was immediately apparent that the most valuable car in the collection might have disappeared with the fleeing president: a 1938 Horch 855 Spezial Cabriolet estimated to be worth at least $2 million.

Wikimedia commons — A Horch 855 similar to this one is missing from the Mezhihirya villa s collection, its legal owners and whereabouts unknown

Ukrainian news outlets now report the Horch might have been the sole car that Yanukovych managed to take with him somehow, perhaps removing it days before the protests toppled his administration. The car collection itself was not entirely Yanukovych’s to begin with; the information placards list various owners who loaned their cars to the administrations of the Mezhyhirya complex, some of them being large corporations based in Ukraine and in Europe.

The Horch 855 placard lists an erroneous manufacture date of 1935 for the Spezial Roadste, which is actually believed to be 1938. It cites a few technical specs, including a 4,911-cc inline-eight cylinder engine making 120 hp, mated to a five-speed manual transmission, but little other information was available. A couple people familiar with the collection confirmed to Ukrainian media that the Horch was indeed there not long ago, so this isn’t believed to be a case of a placard announcing a car that was never there.

But the story of the missing Horch would likely have not gotten out if whoever stashed away the Horch had taken the little information tag with them.

The Horch 855 Spezial Roadster was a shorter version of the Horch 853, featuring similar coachwork. Only three are believed to have been made in addition to seven more 855 Gläser Spezial Roadsters that featured different bodywork. One example is currently being exhibited at the Audi factory museum, on loan from its U.S. owner for a period of 20 years in exchange for Audi’s complete restoration of the car.

Stateside examples of the 855 have appeared at the Pebble Beach Concours, and its sibling, a Horch 853, recently took Best in Show at Greenwich Concours.

Andriy Yatsulyak, Ukrainian magazine Autocentre — An empty spot with an info placard to the right of the two ZiL limousines is the only thing left of the Horch.

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A defiant Yanukovych appeared before the media hours ago in the city of Rostov-on-Don in Russia, telling reporters the following about the owners of the Mezhyhirya car collection, implying that not all the cars belong to him:

Everything that has been shown, these are just pretty pictures. There are real owners. Foreign lawyers will soon be contacting the courts. This isn’t Ukraine’s property. All this talk about my son being the owner, this is not the case and I’ve never even heard this before.

This was just made up by others along the way. All these pretty pictures, it’s a political trick.

Whomever the real owner may be, the fate of the missing Horch 855 remains a mystery for the time being. It is possible it could have crossed the border in an enclosed car carrier days before road checkpoints were fielded by the opposition, which ousted Yanukovych from power. Some observers didn’t rule out the chance that the car could have left weeks prior to Yanukovych’s departure, and it could now be anywhere in Ukraine or abroad.

In other words, don’t bid on any Horch eBay listings if one suddenly appears with a suspiciously low opening bid.

(Special thanks to the Ukrainian magazine Autocentre and photographer Andriy Yatsulyak).

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