by Allen B. Ury
When does car customization become copyright violation? At least in Europe, it’s when you copy the shape and form of an automotive classic.
Creating fiberglass replicas of famous car bodies is nothing new. For decades, car buffs have built spot-on replicas of out-of-production vehicle shells to place on contemporary chassis. But when it comes to replicating a classic Mercedes, look out. Daimler AG is highly protective of its designs, even those no longer used in its production vehicles.
Recently, German Customs found a fiberglass Mercedes-Benz 300 SL replicate being shipped into the country. Created in 1952 as a race car, the 300 SL become a production vehicle in 1954. Production of the car, with its distinctive “gullwing” doors, continued until 1963. In all, 3,258 300 SLs were built. Today, the car is a high-priced collector’s item with well-preserved originals routinely fetching $600,000 or more on the open market.
Sensitive to their land’s most famous car maker’s interests, German Customs alerted Daimler AG in Stuttgart. Claiming that the design is “a work of applied art” that remains under copyright, Daimler took possession of the shell and destroyed it in an industrial crusher.
A photo chronicle on the car body’s destruction can be found here:
What can we take away from this event? Creating customized cars is a wonderful occupation, but just make sure the designs you create don’t belong to someone else!
Learn Car Customizing Skills at WyoTech
If you’d like a career creating original works of automotive art, you can get the skills, experience and confidence you need to be an industry pro at WyoTech.
WyoTech offers a Street Rod and Custom Fabrication specialty as part of its Automotive Technology program. The specialty provides hands-on training in key car customization skills, including:
- Custom and specialized sheet metal shaping and fabrication
- Application of lead (body solder)
- M.I.G., T.I.G. and Oxy-Acetylene welding
- Chop tops including Carson-style tops
- Hidden pin hinges (suicide doors)
- Body construction including firewalls, floorboards and transmission tunnels
- Custom paint techniques including special effects, airbrushing and pin striping
You’ll learn to use a range of power tools, including grinders, sanders, power hammers, bead rollers and the louver press.
Street Rod and Custom Fabrication is offered at WyoTech’s campuses in Blairsville, Pa.; Laramie, Wyo.; and Sacramento, Calif.
For more information on this and other automotive career training programs, contact WyoTech today!
Financial aid is available for those who qualify.