Hitler's car gift to Nepal king to be used again

KATHMANDU Thu Sep 16, 2010 3:20pm EDT

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KATHMANDU (Reuters) - A car said to have been a gift from Adolf Hitler to a Nepali king will be repaired and used to drive visitors around the grounds of a palace museum, a government official said on Thursday.

The 1939 Mercedes Benz was presented by the Nazi leader to King Tribhuvan, grandfather of Nepal's last King Gyanendra, deposed two years ago.

It has been stored at an old palace garage for more than five years, after being abandoned by an engineering college that had been using it for classes.

Authorities said the doors, seats and bonnet were damaged.

Mod Raj Dotel, a Ministry of Culture official, said the equivalent of $537,000 was being sought from the government to restore both the car and a chariot once used by King Tribhuvan.

"The idea is to repair them so visitors can drive in the car and ride the royal chariot," Dotel told Reuters.

"This will be more attractive to visitors and will also give people a feel of the political change the country has undergone."

In 2008, a specially elected assembly dominated by Maoist former rebels overwhelmingly voted to abolish the 239-year-old monarchy, turning the majority-Hindu nation into a secular republic.

Gyanendra's pagoda-roofed palace has since been made into a museum.

The car was initially carried to the Nepali capital Kathmandu by laborers at a time when automobiles in the city were scarce and the mountainous capital was several days' walk from the outside world.

(Editing by Rebecca Conway and Ron Popeski)

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