Should there be preservation orders for classics?

13 replies [Last post]
James Elliott
James Elliott's picture
Joined: 2011-03-11

It's a thorny but perennial issue, and ever since we posted the story of THAT Merc 540K debate has been raging over whether mere ownership entitles you to do what you want to a car.

Now, because we don't know every detail of the history of THAT Merc 540K, and therefore don't know how much car there was to work with in the first place, I don't want to focus too much on THAT car, but just as a reminder, here is the interior:

Pretty simple really, does ownership grant you free rein to do what you want, or should people be prevented from doing stuff like this to perfectly good cars (so NOT necessarily THAT 540K because we don't know if it was perfectly good or not).

Personally, I feel it is the strongest argument for bringing back capital punishment that I have yet seen or heard!

hairyapple's picture
Joined: 2012-10-05

In the USA, in some states, we still have capital punishment, but it doesn't stop the Frankenphillistiens from destroying or in their view "improving" a vintage car. How was this lovely old Mercedes improved? While techniquely it may be a masterpiece of workmanship, it reminds me of an Excalibur, something a tasteless Saudi Prince would drive. 


hairyapple in connecticut, usa

Joined: 2012-05-21

I suspect it comes down entirely to personal taste. I'm not sure I'd even call that a 540K anymore, since all the bits that give it its soul have been altered beyond recognition. But you could probably make the same arguent about the LE50, which I personally feel that is still very much an MGB!

What I do know for certain though is that that anyone who could reconcile the exterior with the interior of that 540K, and think it worked well, should probably have medication and a carer...

Joined: 2012-10-23

I have often ruminated over the practicalities and moral virtues of giving classic cars "listed" status. I conclude the former impedes the latter. The very best we can do is ridicule, humiliate and ostracise automobiles like this 540K as we are doing here and make sure no such vehicle makes the Goodwood Revival carpark showground.

dutchmini's picture
Joined: 2012-12-21

Just don't buy it or restore it back to the original !!!

kind regards


Jan Willem

Coventry Climax
Joined: 2012-02-16

Personally I hate seeing classics which have been subjected to this type of vandalism. I don't have a problem with reversible period modifications (your Triumph gets the thumbs-up James), but otherwise I prefer to see them as they left the factory.

Joined: 2012-12-21

Well, if it's your own car I suppose you can do whatever you want to it. Many fine vehicles, houses and indeed landscapes have been ruined by people with little sense of aesthetic responsibility. There is also the other side of the coin where originality becomes an obsession. I've seen hotrods based on old cars which have become more beautiful to my eye than when built and I admire and even envy the artist-mechanics that create these chrome encrusted cars. But you don't do THIS to a venerable 540K if you have any self-respect. Sad, sad, sad.

dilman,  Home Counties

FlashGumby's picture
Joined: 2011-11-02

I can't fault the build *too* much, since I have appreciated similar builds which were more tastefully done. There's no accounting for taste, and I don't know where they started. If the 540K was a basketcase, then they've brought it back from the dead and people can see and appreciate it when they see it cruse by on the expressway, which is preferencial in my mind to someone who buys it to store off in a warehouse someplace, which happens all-too often.

I just hope that someone with too much money didn't take a decent-quality 540K and bastardize it in such a manner... Those WHEELS (Argh!)

It *is* better than an Excalibur though.

Chris Martin
Joined: 2011-08-20

While James did suggest there may be not much 540K about that car, the question is still relevant.  Who has the right to dictate what an individual can do with his own property?  To take it to the extreme, say if Bill Gates (or Bernie Ecclectone. Chris Evans or Sultan of Brunei) decided he wanted a Bugatti Atlantic but thought a big  block Chevy and TH400 'box would make for easier driving, he's got the money, who is to say you can't do it?  I know that is a bit over the top, but many classics have been altered down the years, some even becoming recognised for their new identity later on.  Back in the seventies, I, and many others, was guilty of 'altering' a sit-up-and-beg Ford Pop' but they were plentiful at a fiver a time and nobody accused us of vandalism.  Now of course, there are triallists and sidevalve fans who would love to have them back as original so they could fit a period Aquaplane head. My point being, who does what and when is all relative to other factors.  Then there is the thorny issue of old competition cars that were rebuilt so many times there are now enough surviving parts for three cars to claim one identity, how can that be prevented?

As for the pimp ride at the top, while the auction house in question would like to get some publicity any way they can - and they have acheived that here - they are being, I suspect, deliberately vague about the exact 540K content.  Assuming that car was constructed in the last ten years, a rotten barn-find 540K would have fetched over half a mill' without doing a thing to it, and whoever built that must have gone to considerable time and expense anyway, so obviously they would be on for a bit of a hiding financially.  I suspect it was based around a kit-car replica or maybe even a knackered Excalibur (there were other copies I believe) that was picked up for a couple of grand, with no original 540K parts involved.

Chris M.


Nuno Granja
Nuno Granja's picture
Joined: 2011-09-13

In my point of view, ownership entitles the owner  to do what he want to a car, like it or not.

Couldn't be other way, I prefer see those things happens, than have someone to tell me what to do with my car. In modern  society we allready our share of political correctness.

nuno granja

Joined: 2012-06-19

I agree with Chris Martin. I reckon this so called Merc is a very good kit car job - looks so like one my son-in-law once owned; not as good but very simlar in looks.

Any good DIY man with creative skills and money could make make this. I actually think this one looks great. However if it is an original and been 'converted' then that's sacriledge! Don't ruin a good original, try to get the car back to what it was, more value and respect.

Tony Clarke

Tony Clarke