Mercedes destroys knockoff 300SL Gullwing

Mercedes 300SL replica disassembledIn the digital age, companies are constantly fighting to protect their intellectual property. Last fall’s SOPA/PIPA uproar shows just how desperate copyright holders are to stop piracy. Of course, illegally copying movies or songs is easy; they’re just collections of data. Surely a company that builds something as complicated, and physically substantial, as a car doesn’t have to worry about unauthorized copies. Apparently not: German customs officials recently seized a replica of Mercedes-Benz’s legendary 300SL “Gullwing.”

Officials at Daimler AG, Mercedes’ parent, were not amused. What did they do when German customs handed over the illegal copy? They destroyed it. The replica Gullwing was taken to Mercedes’ “used-parts centre,” where prototype and test vehicles are scrapped. The car was completely disassembled, then the fiberglass body was placed in a press capable of generating 30 tonnes of pressure. According to a Mercedes press release, the press then smashed the body into small pieces. “This dramatic end to the unlawful body was officially documented with a signed and stamped ‘confirmation of scrappage,’” the company said.Mercedes 300SL replica destroyed

According to Daimler, the 300SL’s distinctive shape has been the company’s property from the beginning. “The employees who designed the famous gullwing model in the 1950s granted Daimler AG comprehensive exploitation rights,” the company said, “the body shape has been trademarked by Daimler AG.”

The original 300 SL debuted in 1954 and helped reestablish Mercedes as a maker of performance cars after World War II. To keep the body rigid, it had high, thick sills. This necessitated the trademark “gullwing” doors, which are hinged at the roof to make the door aperture bigger. SL-Class sports cars are still sold today, and the gullwing doors are replicated on the Mercedes SLS AMG coupe.

This may be the first time a car company used a crusher to solve a copyright dispute, but it is not the first time carmakers and car replicators have fought. Carroll Shelby never trademarked his original Cobra design, but he did sue companies for making replicas. Consequently, he lost, and now there are more replica Cobras on the road than real ones. Ford decided to bring back its LeMans-winning GT40 in 2005, but it had to call the new version “GT” because a builder of replicas had already trademarked the name “GT40.”

Daimler, however, remembered to trademark the Gullwing’s design when the car was built, not years later. Still, the Germans’ response seems remarkably aggressive for an industry that doesn’t seem to care much about intellectual property. There are plenty of “Fauxrrari” kit cars, Pontiac Fieros dressed up as Testarossas, driving around, and no one seems to mind.

Nonetheless, companies are entitled to protect their copyrights, and Daimler sent a clear message to anyone thinking about ripping off a classic Mercedes design. It’s just good that these businesspeople work in the car industry, otherwise we might have Hollywood producers smashing computers full of illegal downloads.

Product Review

Mercedes-Benz updates the timeless G-wagen for the modern world

For decades, the G-Class has been an outlier in the Mercedes-Benz portfolio, a body-on-frame brute with the soul – and driving manners – of an off-road pickup. With the all-new G550, Mercedes seeks to smooth out some of the rough edges.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix, from 'Haunting of Hill House’ to ‘Norsemen’

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.

Apple loses battle to use Intel modems in Germany in latest clash with Qualcomm

Apple is following the Federal Trade Commission's lead and has sued Qualcomm for a massive $1 billion in the U.S., $145 million in China, and also in the U.K., claiming the company charged onerous royalties for its patented tech.
Product Review

Bigger battery and folding top add appeal, but BMW’s i8 remains ultra-niche

Want a high-performance vehicle that's more than just a frightening driving experience? Desire the look and feel of a sports car with the road manners of a luxury commuter? The BMW i8 is for you.

Bentley Bentayga Speed surpasses Lamborghini Urus as world’s fastest SUV

The Bentley Bentayga Speed has wrested the title of world's fastest SUV from its cousin, the Lamborghini Urus. But the Bentley is just 1 mph faster than the Lamborghini. It requires 626 horsepower to achieve that top speed.
Emerging Tech

With CabinSense, cars will soon know who’s riding in them and respond accordingly

What if your car could know who's riding in it and customize the entertainment and safety options accordingly? That’s what's promised by the new CabinSense in-car Occupancy Monitoring System.
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: Grow veggies indoors and shower more efficiently

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!

General Motors cycles into a new market with its first-ever ebikes

When General Motors launched a public campaign last year to name its new ebike brand, many wondered if Bikey McBikeface might win out. But it didn't. Instead, it's called Arīv, and the two bikes are up for pre-order this week.
Product Review

The 2020 Volvo V60 Cross Country is a do-it-all Swedish army knife

Volvo laced up its smallest station wagon in hiking clothes to create the V60 Cross Country. It's a lifted, all-wheel drive wagon that laughs at icy roads while coddling its occupants. We travel to Sweden to try it out.

The Polestar 2, Sweden’s answer to the Tesla Model 3, begins taking shape

Volvo sister company Polestar has released a teaser image to give us our first look at the 2, its second model. Polestar tells us the 2 will arrive as a four-door fastback with a 400-hp electric powertrain and about 300 miles of range.

2020 Kia Soul and Soul EV continue to think inside the box

The 2020 Kia Soul is the third generation of Kia's boxy curiosity. The Soul maintains its signature look, but gets tech and powertrain upgrades. The all-electric Soul EV returns as well.

Psychedelic Volkswagen Microbus from Woodstock returns for an encore

With its trippy paint scheme, the Volkswagen "Light" bus became a symbol of the 1969 Woodstock music festival. VW teamed up with the artist who created this rolling mural to stage a comeback in time for Woodstock's 50th anniversary.

Amazon plugs in with $700 million investment in electric pickup company Rivian

Amazon invested $700 million for a minority stake in U.S. all-electric truck maker Rivian, according to a joint release. The announcement follows a Reuters report that GM and Amazon might invest $1 billion to $2 billion in the company.

2019 RAM 1500 Classic Warlock special edition: Badass style without the whoop

If you like the looks of blacked-out badass trucks without the cost of a desert racer, FCA announced the 2019 Ram 1500 Classic Warlock, a special edition pickup that focuses on appearance with only a touch of additional off-road capability.