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Thursday, 6 February, 2003, 11:22 GMT
Tito's limos on the block
Tito's limo fleet
Tito also enjoyed luxury yachts and palaces
A fleet of limousines used by the former Yugoslav dictator Josip Broz Tito is due to go on sale at starting prices ranging up to 500,000 euros ($540,000).

Tito in open-top car
Tito needed some cars with removable tops
The 13 luxury cars include a 1960 Rolls-Royce Phantom with a mahogany bar, and a 20-foot-long, six-seater, bulletproof Mercedes.

They are evidence of the distinctly un-socialist lifestyle enjoyed by Tito - a wartime partisan leader - which also included dozens of homes and yachts.

The auction is scheduled for 27 February, but is facing a last-minute challenge from automobile historians who say the cars are a national treasure and should be kept for posterity.

"They are in perfect condition," said a spokeswoman for the Defence Ministry of Yugoslavia - which changed its name to Serbia and Montenegro earlier this week.

Rolls Royce gets a polish
The Rolls-Royce comes with 600 spare parts
Most have not been used since Tito's death in 1980, though Slobodan Milosevic used one of the 10 Mercedes cars to travel to his inauguration as Yugoslav president in 1997.

Two of the Mercedes limos - the most expensive lots - were custom-built with removable tops, and were used by Tito for touring the country and parading with visiting statesmen.

Bidding for the Rolls Royce, together with 600 spare parts, will start at 200,000 euros.

Ten BMW motorcycles used by outriders and other members of Tito's security forces are also up for sale, most with starting prices of 12,400 euros.

The government says it wants the money to buy new cars.

An official said the sale had nothing to do with the demise of the Yugoslav federation, and its replacement by a loose union of Serbia and Montenegro on Tuesday.

According to the experts attempting to halt the sale, the collection is unique, and among the world's finest.

See also:

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