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World's most expensive lemon?

Dealership says $1.7 million car won't run and maker Mercedes-Benz won't fix it.

June 16, 2006; Posted: 11:29 a.m. EDT (1529 GMT)


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NEW YORK ( - The owner of a Los Angeles car dealership is suing Mercedes-Benz, its parent company DaimlerChrysler and other affiliates, alleging that a $1.7 million car purchased in 2004 wouldn't run for more than 10 blocks without problems.

The car, a Mercedes-Benz AMG CLK-GTR Limited Edition Roadster, was supposed to be one of only five made. In the lawsuit, the owner of exotic car dealership Grand Prix Motors also alleges that six were actually made, reducing the value of his car.

A two-door sports car, the CLK-GTR has a carbon fiber body and a 6.9-liter 12-cylinder engine enabling it to go from zero to 124 mph in 9.9 seconds. It has a top speed of 198.4 mph. According to the dealership's Web site, the car's intended retail selling price was $2.5 million.

The car is believed to be the only one of its kind in the U.S., said plaintiff Mark Johnston. It is intended to be a street car but, because of differences in safety and emissions rules between the U.S. and Europe, it cannot legally be driven on public roads here.

"Unfortunately, the car turned out to be 'exotic' in the worst possible way," dealership owner Johnston said. "When we took it off the lot in 2004 for its first customer test drive, [dealership co-owner Ernest Johnston] drove the car all of 10 blocks with a prospective buyer when the oil light came on. We've been trying to get it fixed ever since, but the Mercedes folks have refused to stand behind the car as promised in our contract."

Additionally, according to Johnston, the car's transmission failed to shift properly, the hydraulic jack system failed and the car's windows came unglued. Mercedes ultimately determined that the car suffered from an oil pressure-related engine failure, the plaintiffs allege, but refused to make any repairs.

"It's unfortunate the defendants have forced us to bring a lawsuit in order to have our contract honored," said Johnston. "We obviously cannot sell the car in its current condition, which right now represents nearly $2 million of scrap metal."

Mercedes-Benz USA spokeswoman Donna Boland said she could not comment on the lawsuit since the car was purchased directly from Germany and not through Mercedes' U.S. arm. Mercedes-Benz USA is named as a defendant in the suit.

Mercedes-Benz officials in Germany could not immediately be reached for comment.

The suit seeks a full refund of the car's purchase price as well as legal fees and other expenses.



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