Should there be preservation orders for classics?
Further investigation; on reading the auction company description which is worded ".......Yes this is a real Mercedes-Benz 540K. Not a kit or reproduction! It is a spectacular customization of an original Mercedes 540K Cabriolet. All steel with a V-10 Viper engine and drive train....." it is still not clear if or how much of a genuine 540K was used. The usual components one would associate with a car's provenance are missing; chassis, engine, transmission, axles etc, they even admit the radiator shell is a modern fabrication, so how they claim it is a "real" M-B 540K is a bit puzzling. The claim that it has an all steel body and is not a kit-car implies it used original body panels - maybe - but even that statement is ambiguous, so I would not be too upset just yet without concrete proof that a real car was vandalised in this way. If it is just one man's interpretation of how he sees the modern day pimp woukld order his 540K then I say he has probably acheived his aim. I suppose if one wanted to stretch the truth a bit, and used an original nut and bolt, a door handle or a headlight bulb from a known original car, and then created a completely new car one could claim it was "based on" that car?
Who is to say, it takes more than one bidder to push prices up, and I would not be surprised if there at least two people in this world who think it 'cool'.
As for the idea mooted about preservation orders, I do not realistically see how it could be policed or enforced even if there was a government willing to try, but remember there are already certain measures in place in some countries where the sale or export of special interest vehicles is restricted or banned. For example I believe that is why a lot of the fantastic 'Maharajah' custom built cars still remain in India, and now there are mutterings about trying to introduce a similar ban here in Australia; although it could be said around here there is no point in locking the stable door after the horse has bolted, many are the tales of top end Hispano-Suiza, Isotta-Fraschini and Rolls-Royce finds being spirited abroad through the seventies and eighties.
Who knows, maybe even the odd 540K may have got away?
As has been said, money and taste make anything possible, and there is much speculation about the origins of this car. However, this listing for a very similar car by the same builder suggest much original car was in there, which is equally a shame as Darrin bodied Packards are hardly dime a dozen cars.
As a semi-American I can appreciate the desire to modify and build hotrods, but there should be a line. There is currently a type 57 Bugatti hot rod being built, but the guy has been so shamed that he keeps a very low profile.
In his defense, he took a closed body and built a car around it and that body had been removed from an original chassis by an owner who put a replica open body on the car. Who has committed the more egregious car crime? Or take the Beacham Mark 2 Jaguars which replace the delightful clean interior with a hideous modern car inside, some people like it . . .
As one who has been involved in multiple original restorations, where as much was left untouched as possible, this seems not a lot worse than someone who takes a Morris Minor and puts Connely leather seats in it, or a Model A Ford with more chrome than a Cadillac Eldorado . . .
Looking at the auction results it didn't appear to find a new home.
Does anyone have more info on that? (was it withdrawn, failed to sell, provenance came into question etc)
Seems the similarly mutated Packard Darrin made $242k so, sadly, there is a market for this sort of thing.