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NO DISASSEMBLE! Mercedes Classic Murders A Gullwing (Knockoff)

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On: Thu, Mar 22, 2012 at 3:51PM | By: Andrew W Davis


NO DISASSEMBLE! Mercedes Classic Murders A Gullwing (Knockoff)

The 1950s Mercedes-Benz 300 SL “Gullwing” has one of the most beautiful bodies in the world, automotive or otherwise. Between 1954 and 1957, only 1400 of these curvy creations were built—1,371 in steel, 29 in aluminum—ensuring that they’d forever be a hot (read: EXPENSIVE) commodity.

Values have been rising rapidly to an “average” of nearly $1M. One—an alloy-bodied 1955 model—set a world record at auction in January with a winning bid of $4.62 million. It’s clear, then, that there’s a market out there for 300 SL replicas. Problem is, as Mercedes-Benz puts it, “The body shape of the legendary gullwing model has been trademarked by Daimler AG.”

So what happens when M-B finds out you’ve been violating said trademark? Bad things. Bad for you and VERY bad for the car.

Reader discretion is advised…

One look at the pile of shredded car pieces and you can clearly see that the phrase “Daimler AG takes a firm line on vehicle replicas” is an understatement.

Here’s how Daimler AG—which “has long taken a tough approach to vehicle replicas”—explains exactly how this fiberglass fakeroo met its end:

“The first step in destroying the replica was to separate the chassis from the body. The Mercedes-Benz used-parts centre, which is also responsible for scrapping all Mercedes-Benz prototypes from the development units, then destroyed the body on behalf of Daimler AG. The certified equipment used in the centre includes two presses, each applying over 30 tonnes of pressure. The replica sports car had a fibreglass body weighing precisely 148 kilograms, which the compressor smashed into small pieces. This dramatic end to the unlawful body was officially documented with a signed and stamped 'confirmation of scrappage'.”

And here’s how they recount the “why”:

“A case had arisen in which a company based in Germany had built an unlawful replica of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198 series).

“As a work of applied art, the body of the 300 SL has been under copyright protection for a number of decades. The employees who designed the famous gullwing model in the 1950s granted Daimler AG comprehensive exploitation rights. The body shape has also been trademarked by Daimler AG, as recently confirmed by the Stuttgart regional court (case no. 17 O 304/10, final and binding judgment dated 9 December 2010, following withdrawal of an appeal).

“The courts have ruled that it is not legal to market the body, which was seized by German customs officials."

And you know how the story ends.

Now, I can hear the wheels starting to turn in the heads of folks who make a career of copying other companies’ cars. They’ve made a robust business of building TupperCobras and all manner of other kinda-sorta, is-but-isn’t-style vehicles, using the “these are kit-based, blame the assembler” and “we didn’t actually SAY it was Car X, nor did we put any model/Company X badges on it” excuses to protect themselves.

Well, Daimler AG isn’t messing around, boys, and their court ruling is as thorough as the process they follow when destroying fakes:

“Anyone building, offering or selling replicas of the vehicle is in breach of the Company's rights. This even applies if the replicas do not incorporate any logos or trademarks of the Company.”

So do the world a favor: STOP. I don’t know if I could handle seeing another Gullwing going into the grinder, fiberglass replica or no…


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