Set in a prisoner-of-war camp, Hogan’s Heroes would seem an unlikely program in which to find interesting vehicles, but there were several cars and trucks featured on the hit sitcom that merit consideration.
Hogan’s Heroes, the zany WWII-themed sitcom that ran on CBS from 1965 to 1971, isn’t in the same league as shows like Batman, The Munsters, or The Beverly Hillbillies when it comes to memorable “star cars.” However, while chronicling the havoc wreaked on the Nazi war machine by the fictional U.S. Colonel Hogan (Bob Crane) and his Allied crew in a German prisoner-of-war camp, Hogan’s Heroes nevertheless paraded some interesting vehicles. Check out the cars of Hogan’s Heroes.
Cars of Hogan’s Heroes
1938 Mercedes-Benz G4
General Burkhalter (Leon Askin) usually arrived at Stalag 13 in a Mercedes-Benz G4.
Perhaps the most unique of the Hogan’s Heroes motor pool was an intimidating 1938 Mercedes-Benz G4 with dual rear axles that is seen in the show’s opening credits, and often ferried General Burkhalter (Leon Askin) on his unwelcome visits to the Stalag 13 POW camp. The G4 W 31 Series was built as an off-road staff car, although it seems to have seen most use as a parade car. Both rear axles had self-locking differentials for better traction off road, but the forward rear axle was not powered. The engine was a 110-horsepower, 5.4-liter overhead-valve straight eight that was similar to the engine in Mercedes’ flamboyant 540 K sports car, but minus the 540 K’s supercharger. Off-road tires and a curb weight of more than 8000 pounds limited top speed to 42 mph. The G4 had a 159-inch wheelbase and most seem to have been seven-passenger touring cars, although there was also a sedan offered. A total of 57 G4s were built between 1934 and 1939. Reportedly only three original cars remain, including the Hogan’s Heroes G4 that occasionally pops up in other Hollywood productions. (There are also a few more G4s of questionable authenticity.)
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1938 Mercedes-Benz 230
Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer) was typically chauffeured in his Mercedes-Benz 230 staff car.
Colonel Klink (Werner Klemperer) was often driven in a 1938 Mercedes-Benz 230 W 143 Pullman Limousine. The 230 was a 6-cylinder version of the 4-cylinder 170 Series that Mercedes introduced to expand downward into the medium-priced market in 1931. Both series were advanced for their time, with independent suspension front and rear. More typical for the prewar years was the 230’s 2.3-liter side-valve six, which developed 55 hp. Klink’s car wasn’t as grand as Burkhalter’s G4 or the 770 Grosser limousines of the top Nazi brass, but it would have been a comfortable car to get to and from Stalag 13.
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1940 Volkswagen Type 82 Kübelwagen
Major Hochstetter (Howard Caine) usually arrived at Stalag 13 in a Volkswagen Kübelwagen.
The Volkswagen Type 82 Kübelwagen (German for “bucket car”) was Germany’s answer to the Jeep, and naturally would have been a common sight in German military installations. The Kübelwagen was based on Hitler’s “People’s Car” that eventually became the Volkswagen Beetle. The Wehrmacht’s invasion of Poland ended civilian VW production before it could really get started and the factory was used for war materiel, including the Kübelwagen. The vehicle was powered by VW’s air-cooled four-cylinder engine, which initially displaced 985 cc and made 23.5 hp, but was later raised to 1131 cc and 25 hp. The rear-mounted powerplant aided traction in rough terrain, and the Kübelwagen added a limited-slip differential that helped make up for the lack of four-wheel drive. There was also an amphibious version called the Schwimmwagen. The Kübelwagen was reborn as a West German military vehicle in 1969, and a civilian version was sold in the US from 1972 to 1975 as the Volkswagen Thing.
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1933 Horch 830
Horch sedans were frequently seen on the set of Hogan’s Heroes.
Occasionally, a visitor to the Stalag 13 camp arrived in a 1933 Horch 830 sedan. Founded in 1899, Horch was a predecessor of today’s Audi brand. In 1932, Horch merged with Audi, DKW, and Wanderer to form Auto Union, with Horch as the prestige brand of the group. Unusual for a prewar European car, the 830 had a V-8 engine. The 3.0-liter V-8 put out 68 horsepower and gave a top speed of around 70 mph. More powerful still were Auto Union’s race cars that challenged Mercedes for dominance of Grand Prix racing in the late Thirties.
The trucks used in Hogan’s Heroes were usually American trucks painted with Nazi insignias to look the part. To see more Hogan’s Heroes vehicles, check out the Internet Movie Cars Database.
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Cars of Hogan’s Heroes