Merkel's old Volkswagen sold at auction, second time lucky

Mon Apr 30, 2012 2:54pm EDT

German Chancellor Angela Merkel smiles after she received a pack of famous Flensburger beer during an election rally with Schleswig-Holstein's Christian Democratic (CDU) chairman and top candidate Jost de Jager (R) in Flensburg, April 26, 2012. REUTERS/Fabian Bimmer

German Chancellor Angela Merkel smiles after she received a pack of famous Flensburger beer during an election rally with Schleswig-Holstein's Christian Democratic (CDU) chairman and top candidate Jost de Jager (R) in Flensburg, April 26, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Fabian Bimmer

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(Reuters) - German Chancellor Angela Merkel's old Volkswagen wasn't worth the 130,000 euros ($172,100) bogus online bidders kited it to earlier this month, but the first woman chancellor's 1990 Golf finally went to the highest bidder on Monday for 10,165 euros.

Successful bidder Dirk Fricke, who bought the car for his company Frisch-Licht, told Reuters he was happy with what he saw as a low price tag, though he wasn't a fan of Merkel's.

"We're politically totally neutral," he said by telephone. "It was just about keeping the car in Germany. A car like this can't be lost to Germany, like the Pope's car years ago."

In a similar auction in 2005, a U.S. bidder paid nearly $250,000 for a 21-year-old gray 1990 Volkswagen Golf that once belonged to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict.

A previous attempt to sell Merkel's car earlier this month failed after online auction platform eBay noticed the offers came from fake bidders, prompting a second auction, in which bidders had to pre-register and identify themselves.

The seller, an anonymous Berlin resident, had advertised the vehicle on eBay with 190,000 km (118,000 miles) on the clock as "Angela's Merkel first Western car: unique collector's item".

The posting included a copy of the registration papers and photographs of it parked in front of the chancellor's office.

Merkel bought the Golf, a white 1990 model worth a few hundred euros today, about a month before German reunification on October 3, 1990.

At the time, she had just shifted from the East German opposition political movement Democratic Awakening to the eastern faction of the Christian Democrats.

She drove her Golf until entering Chancellor Helmut Kohl's cabinet as a minister in 1994. It was eventually sold in 1996.

Nowadays Merkel rides around in an armored Audi but media reports say her husband still drives a Volkswagen, which literally translated means "people's car".

(Reporting By Elisa Oddone and Annika Breidthardt; Editing by Michael Roddy)

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