A Mercedes-Benz sports car listed on official New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) books as a “NZ-new” 2013 model has been identified by the carmaker as being built in 2003.
It landed in NZ on November 7 last year from Malaysia after sitting for 10 years in a warehouse in Kuala Lumpur. The odometer at the NZ border check showed it had done 335km.
The used importer took the SL 500 two-door to a Mercedes-Benz dealer on Auckland’s North Shore in January for a pre-delivery check. The dealer signed it off as a 2003 model.
The next dealership manager Jacob Wilson heard of the car was when Mercedes-Benz NZ queried a SL 500 that was on NZTA’s books as a 2013 model with 471km on the clock and registered on May 1 to a suburban address.
The carmaker’s international database showed the chassis number belonged to a SL 500 built in 2003 and shipped from Germany to Malaysia the same year.
The NZTA report shows the “NZ-new” SL 500 is registered until October 31 and its Warrant of Fitness expires on February 1 next year. “Vehicle has passed all VIR (Vehicle Information Report) legal checks,” says the report. It also says the vehicle was never registered overseas.
Now the luxury German company is asking how a car it built 10 years ago could officially be logged by a NZ Government agency as a current-year model.
Motor Industry Association CEO David Crawford said the case shows why there needs to be full disclosure of a vehicle’s history at the point of sale, including the year of registration and the year of manufacture.
“We believe – and we have raised this several times with government officials – that the year of registration and manufacture should be recorded in the Motor Vehicle Register.
“Unless there is full disclosure of a car’s history, consumers may be misled – either inadvertently or, for those that are inclined to do so, deliberately.”
Dealership manager Wilson said: “I’m totally against these sorts of cars coming into the country.
“They need to be black-flagged when they arrive here. Consumers have the right to know exactly what they are buying.”
There is a world of difference between a 2003 and 2013 model SL 500. For a start, the 2003 is 125kg heavier, slower, its 5.0-litre V8 engine uses more fuel and emits more C02 emissions, and it has four airbags.
The 2013 example is the first passenger car in Mercedes-Benz history to have a bodyshell built entirely of aluminium. It has six airbags. Its 4.7-litre V8 engine is considerably cleaner than the older model, too.