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Mercedes-Benz destroys illegal Gullwing replica

It is against German law to sell a replica of the 300SL, even if it is not adorned with the famous Mercedes logo.

Car replicas sold in the form of kits have been popular around the world for numerous decades. They give enthusiasts the chance to own what sometimes looks like a Porsche 356 or a Mercedes 300SL (commonly known as the Gullwing) for a fraction of what these cars trade hands for at big-name auctions.

Auto companies have typically tolerated kit car manufacturers. After all, those who specialize in building replicas often imitate cars that have been out of production for years, and sell them to folks who are often not in a position to buy the actual car.

However, an unnamed company in Germany took things a little too far when they built a near-exact replica of the Mercedes 300SL with a fiberglass body. Mercedes got word of the car, took the company to court and quickly won the case.

The judge ruled that when the 300SL was launched in 1954, the designers who drew the car gave Daimler comprehensive exploitation rights. That means that it is against German law to sell a replica of the 300SL, even if it is not adorned with the famous Mercedes logo.

Once the court's decision was pronounced, German customs officials seized the illegal replica and delivered it to the Mercedes-Benz Classic Center so that it could be destroyed. Workers there started by separating the fiberglass body from the chassis. The body was cut up into pieces and tossed into a dumpster, while the chassis ended up crushed using two industrial-sized presses.

What remains to be seen is whether or not this is an isolated incident, or if Mercedes is going to wage war on every single one of the numerous kit car manufacturers in Europe and abroad.