Just Above Sunset
May 8, 2005 - Cult Car (the Pope's Golf)

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From Rick Erickson, editor and publisher of MetropoleParis


DATELINE PARIS Saturday, 7 May 2005


In case you were thinking our culture is still based in the 5th century, or the 18th or 19th - after all the world got a new Pope a couple of weeks ago and they are having another monkey trial in Kansas - well, Bud, forget it!  We are squarely in the 21st century and all those who want to set their clocks back to some never-was 'reality' time are not going to wind up with anything except sore wrists.


The day after the new Pope, Benoît XVI, gave his first blessing to the faithful in Saint-Peter's a young man aged 21 by the name of Benjamin Halbe decided to sell his car.  He contacted eBay Germany and offered the car, a 1999 Golf IV, for an opening bid of 9999 euros.  At the end of the first day of bidding the offer stood at 62,500 euros, after 3.8 million visitors had clicked on to the Web site.


Mr. Halbe had not had the car long.  He bought it in January for 10,000 euros second-hand from the Volkswagen dealer in Olpe, just east of Cologne, which had sold it to the original owner.  It had 75,000 kilmometres on the original motor, the 85 hp version, four doors, standard transmission, and all the options including an anti-theft system.


When Mr. Halbe bought the Golf the dealer, Kurt Schneider, told him that the car ran with 'divine benediction.'  Only afterwards did Mr. Halbe learn that the first owner was none other than Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who was elected Pope on Tuesday, 19. April.  Address on the original sales slip, '00120 Citta del Vaticano.'


The Golf showed up on eBay Germany on Monday, 25 April, with the headline, 'PAPST GOLF !!! KULTAUTO !!!'  In addition to a very detailed description of the object - 'still with original seats!' - there was an image of the original sales slip and a mention of authenticity.  Spoofers were warned against joking too.


In the 24 hours before the deadline on Thursday, Daphne Rauch of eBay Germany told Reuters that the bids had doubled.  By the time the dust settled eBay had 227 firm bids, and the car went to the highest, which was 188,938.88 euros.  Thursday was Ascension Day, the date was 05.05.05, a date that only happens only once in a thousand years, and it was the week's fifth day - only happens once in 7000 years.


According to eBay's page for the sale, the buyer was a certain 'Golden Palace Casino' in the United States.  Ms Rauch said the buyer was known to eBay for bidding on strange items, but they have to come and pick up the car.


It is not known if the Pope drove the car when he was Cardinal.  He lived at the Vatican for twenty years before his elevation and wasn't known to drive.


Mr. Halbe was reported to have followed the bidding on a portable from a hospital where he was being treated for a stomach upset.  He told reporters that the first thing he was going to do was buy another car and then go on holidays.  As of today eBay's 'kultauto' page has received 9.4 million visitors.


Actual size...

Photo note: 


A France-2 TV-news feature about the eBay Golf sale showed video of a dark blue Golf, being washed.  So I set out to find one, without knowing exactly what a '99 Golf IV looks like.  Only on doing the edit do I see that it is supposed to be a grey metallic one.  Otherwise, the photo is of a Golf two-door and the background is Berlin, Kreuzberg, circa 1974. (Both my photos.) 


We humans aren't perfect. 'Poster of the Week' is one of two, both promoting young fun for oldsters.



Text and Photos Copyright © 2005 – Ric Erickson, MetropoleParis


Copyright © 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006 - Alan M. Pavlik
The inclusion of any text from others is quotation
for the purpose of illustration and commentary,
as permitted by the fair use doctrine of U.S. copyright law. 
See the Details page for the relevant citation.

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