Replica carmakers take notice: Daimler will not tolerate copies of its signature Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. At all. And if you fail to heed this warning and build a full-size replica of a 300 SL gullwing, justice will come down like three tons of bricks upon your unlicensed creation.

German customs officials recently confiscated what looks to be a very faithful reproduction of a 300 SL from a German company, albeit rendered in fiberglass, and they apparently notified the folks at Daimler, who didn't take too kindly to the unauthorized likeness of their icon.

In their press release (available after the jump), Daimler says the body of the 300 SL is a "work of applied art" that has been under copyright protection for decades. And to make clear their intent to protect that copyright they also remind us they have "long taken a tough approach to vehicle replicas."

The recently seized copy found out just how tough when the Mercedes-Benz used parts centre (responsible for scrapping the company's unwanted prototypes) put the replica SL in a 30-ton industrial press and transformed it from illegal to unrecognizable. It then received the official "confirmation of scrappage" designation.

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Unlawful replica of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL destroyed

Daimler AG takes a firm line on vehicle replicas

Stuttgart – Mercedes-Benz Classic has destroyed the replica body of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. The courts have ruled that it is not legal to market the body, which was seized by German customs officials.

The body shape of the legendary gullwing model has been trademarked by Daimler AG. Anyone building, offering or selling replicas of the vehicle is in breach of the Company's rights. This even applies if the replicas do not incorporate any logos or trademarks of the Company. Daimler AG has long taken a tough approach to vehicle replicas.

As a work of applied art, the body of the 300 SL has been under copyright protection for a number of decades. The employees who designed the famous gullwing model in the 1950s granted Daimler AG comprehensive exploitation rights. The body shape has also been trademarked by Daimler AG, as recently confirmed by the Stuttgart regional court (case no. 17 O 304/10, final and binding judgment dated 9 December 2010, following withdrawal of an appeal).

A case had arisen in which a company based in Germany had built an unlawful replica of a Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198 series). The first step in destroying the replica was to separate the chassis from the body. The Mercedes-Benz used-parts centre, which is also responsible for scrapping all Mercedes-Benz prototypes from the development units, then destroyed the body on behalf of Daimler AG. The certified equipment used in the centre includes two presses, each applying over 30 tonnes of pressure. The replica sports car had a fibreglass body weighing precisely 148 kilograms, which the compressor smashed into small pieces. This dramatic end to the unlawful body was officially documented with a signed and stamped 'confirmation of scrappage'.

The Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (W 198 series) is one of the best known cars in the world. It was launched on the market in 1954 as a coupé with distinctive gullwing doors. In 1999, an international panel of judges voted it 'sports car of the century'. Today, the original gullwing model and its roadster variant, which was introduced in 1957, are two of the most coveted vehicles on the international classic car scene. All the major car collections worldwide feature the 300 SL – an icon of design and engineering expertise.