Hogan’s Heroes featured one of the rarest cars in existence—the Mercedes-Benz W31.
If you’re a fan of the 1960’s World War II sitcom, you surely remember General Burkhalter’s sleek Benz. The iconic grey convertible rolled into Stalag 13 every day, sporting six wheels and two spare tires mounted on the front doors. It was the very definition of a wartime vehicle.
The Hogan’s Heroes classic is a limited edition variation of the G4. At the time of its release in the 1930s, only 72 existed. But only four survived WWII. And each remaining convertible carries an interesting story.
Czechoslovakia used one Mercedes-Benz W31 during its annexation from Austria. And eventually, the country turned the car into a fire engine. It is now on display in Germany’s Technik Museum Sinsheim.
Another one of the vehicles was given to General Franco of Spain by Adolf Hilter. And there is footage of the SS leader being driven through parades in the convertible. Mercedez-Benz has since restored the car for the Spanish royal family. It now has an illuminated Virgin Mary on the dashboard.
The third W31 lives right here in the USA. It’s currently on display at the Historic Auto Attractions museum in Roscoe, Illinois. And it’s featured in the World Leaders exhibit.
The Benz that was actually used in Hogan’s Heroes is still in Hollywood. Some fans thought that the series blew up the car during an episode titled Bombsight. But luckily, the car that burned during the show was just a prop.
The real Mercedes-Benz W31 is still available to use in films and television to this day. But the last time the car showed up on the silver screen was during an episode of Galactica 1980.
‘Gilligan’s Island’ Introduced These ‘Hogan’s Heroes’ Stars
Hogan’s Heroes got its start with a little help from Gilligan and The Skipper, too.
When Hogan’s Heroes made its debut in 1965, a tale of a fateful trip was all the rage on network television. Gilligan’s Island was the top show at the time, so the producers enlisted two of its star actors to bring attention to the new series.
And Alan Hale Jr, who played the Skipper, was happy to help because he saw some similarities in the plotline.
“Hogan and his heroes also live on an island, but it’s a special kind of island, not at all like Gilligan’s,” he said during a promo. Of course, the island was actually a German prison camp named Stalag 13.
Gilligan’s Island‘s hype definitely helped the show get a good start, too. Once it premiered that year, Hogan’s Heroes went on to win three Emmys and run for an impressive six seasons.