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Newsletter No.098 AMG story, Cruise hoax

Newsletter Number 98
10th March 2006

Welcome to the latest newsletter.  In this edition we have the abridged story of my AMG coupe, the final info on the National rally, some photos from the 2006 wheels display and the usual line up of articles. 

For those of you who are attending the National rally we will see you there.

Hope you enjoy it.

Thanks John and Sandra Green.

///AMG  300CE-24 3.4

Many of you have known of the existence of this car for some time and I quite often get asked to tell its story. Most times I just say that it is to long a story and that one day I would write up its history. Well here is the short version of the story.

The vehicle in question is a specially modified Mercedes-Benz 300CE-24 that was modified from new by AMG in Germany. It features a specially modified 3.4lt six-cylinder engine with 200 kW/272 hp output and 335 Nm of torque, which was a very powerful engine for its capacity in its day. (a 5.0lt Commodore produced 185kws in 1990) It is one of a reported 25 such examples ever made, of which only 7 were with manual transmission. These cars were expensive and cost more than the then recently released 500SL that sold for over $250000.00 here in Australia.

It was the first model made under an historic agreement between Daimler-Benz and AMG in 1990 where AMG cars were sold and serviced by the world-wide sales network of Mercedes-Benz. This agreement started the two companies on the path that eventually saw Daimler-Benz buy out AMG.

The car was built to order for a Mr Gerhard Hassler who was a German businessman that moved to Australia some time around 1993-4. He brought with him this Mercedes-Benz and a similarly modified BMW sedan. It turns out that he was a con artist and his business of selling diet pills got him in a lot of trouble. He even made it for a spot on “A Current Affair”. Anyway, by some time around early 1998 he went bankrupt and the cars were seized by Prentice Parbery Barilla P/L.  I have no idea what happened to the BMW but the Mercedes-Benz was put up for sale. Apparently a deal was reached, only to find that Mr Hassler had brought the car into the country under some system where the duty is not paid as the car was to be exported back to Germany. As the car was worth over $200000.00AUD when it was imported the customs department wanted duty and sales tax paid on that amount before the car could be sold. Problem was that the car had depreciated to a lot less than the original price and almost no money would be made from selling the vehicle after the customs department was paid out.

After wondering what to do for awhile, the receivers then hit on the idea of sending the car to New Zealand and back in April 1999.  The cost of which, and the tax payable on its return, would have been less than what was owed.  For some reason it stayed in New Zealand for some time. I think they had some ideas of trying to sell it in New Zealand but found out that due to some technicality it could not be registered.

I had known about this car since it came into Australia as it was displayed at various Mercedes-Benz club events around 93-95 and was featured at the Opera House display during the Easter 94 Rally. I also knew it had been seized but never thought I would ever see it again until a friend contacted me in late 1999 telling me that it was sitting in a container in Christchurch.

To cut a long story short I brought the car on behalf of a collector in the USA but it had to come via Australia to be inspected before going to the USA. This was because nobody had seen the car for a few years and it had been locked in a shipping container for the last 9 months. Nobody knew what it would look like! For this reason we applied for and were granted a transit permit number 43362/5 from the Department of Transport and Regional Services (DOTARS). A transit permit is exactly what it says. A permit for a car to transit though Australia. It is a condition of the permit that it can not be driven on any Australian road. The car arrived here in Australia in March 2000  The permit states that the car is a 1991 model however it was produced in December 1990. I have documented proof from DaimlerChrysler to support this.

Between the deal being done and the car arriving some of the USA regulations regarding importing “non federalised” vehicles and associated costs were changed. The cost changes were quite significant. As a result the deal to send the car to the USA collapsed and I was left with the car. Various attempts to sell the car were made but always failed due to the regulations of the various countries that people enquired from.

Knowing that the permit only ran for two years and had expired in March 2002, I wrote to the Administrator of Vehicle Standards in October 2002 and again in August 2003 asking for ideas as to what could be done and offering solutions that could be followed. The Administrator was not interested in anything but the vehicle being exported or destroyed.....

By now I had locked the car away and removed all sale notices from the internet as I did not really want to draw any attention to its existence as it was by now an “illegal immigrant” We joked about it being sent out to the Woomera detention centre. I had decided to wait until it had its 15th birthday as there was an exemption of most regulations on the importing of cars of 15 years of age or older.

In February 2005 I rang the DOTARS office only to find out that there were changes to rules regarding the importation of 15 year old cars. I was advised that the 15 year rule was no more, but that there was an agreement that any cars purchased before the rule change would be allowed in when they turned 15.  It was a common practice for importers to purchase cars that were 14 years old and wait for there 15th birthday before importing them.  I made myself a diary note to ring  back DOTARS on the 3rd of January 2006 to arrange the paperwork only to find out when I did ring that whoever I spoke to omitted two very important piece of information.  He did not tell me about the 31st December deadline and that it would not apply to 1991 built vehicles………

Yes, that is right, the exception only applied to vehicles that had their application submitted before the 31st of December 2005. So I had waited for nearly five years and been beaten to the post by three days................ Not being one to give in to easily,  I put in my application anyway knowing that it would be rejected, but figured that was the only way forward. When the rejection arrived, I phoned and wrote to the Administrator and asked why, the obvious answer was given...

The ace up my sleeve was that if I had been correctly advised of the 1991 issue, I would have raised the mistake on the original permit when I rang in February 2005.

So the next step was to take DOTARS to the Administrative appeals tribunal. The application was made and at the same time a request for an internal review of the decision was requested. Then, totally out of the blue, on the 22nd of February 2006 I received a letter from the Administrator giving in and allowing the vehicle to stay in Australia........

I still can not register it unless I convert it to RHD, but at least I can drive it on Australian roads and I have saved it from an uncertain future, (my wife however still thinks I am crazy....). For those of you who are attending the National Rally, you will see (and hear) this amazing car.

2006 Australian National Rally of Mercedes-Benz Clubs in Canberra.

Every two years the Mercedes-Benz clubs of Australia run a national rally. There are six Mercedes-Benz clubs in Australia that run this national rally on a rotational basis. The Mercedes-Benz clubs of the ACT and NSW are proud to announce that the 2006 national rally will be held in the national capital during Easter 2006.
The rally is to be held in Canberra from the 14th to the17th of April. This website is designed to help participants by providing information on all aspects of the rally. As well, you can find information on rally sponsors and supporters. With the rally fast approaching it is now being updated regularly so check back each week for updates if you are attending the rally.

Attendance of the rally is open to all members of a Mercedes-Benz club authorised by the parent club in Stuttgart, the Mercedes-Benz Classic Car Club International. At the moment the rally is fully subscribed with over 250 people attending including participants from the UK, Germany and New Zealand. There will be a chance for locals to see all the vehicles attending the rally on the Sunday at the Rond Terraces from 11:15am till 1.30pm. This is at the base of Anzac Avenue. There is a copy of the full programme on the website.

Customer 30000!

Last week we processed invoice number 30000. We had known that this milestone had been coming for a few weeks and had chatted about what we might do to promote the lucky customer. So based on this we were both happy and disappointed when the 30000th invoice was made out to one of our local competitors for some used parts!  So without naming who it was congratulations on sharing a milestone with us!

And taking about milestones M.B Spares & Service was a very big one coming up in November. It will be the 10th anniversary of our website being published. We went online on the 1st of November 1996, that is even before Mercedes-Benz Australia managed to get online! So stay tuned for the celebrations.


Hoax of the month.

I received this e-mail the other day:


>> NEVER KNEW THIS BEFORE - Important - not a joke - Pass this on I wonder how many people know about this?
>> A 36-year-old female had an accident several weeks ago and totalled her car. A resident of Wollongong, NSW, she was travelling between
>> Wollongong &  Sydney. It was raining, though not excessively, when her car suddenly began to hydroplane and literally flew through the air.
>> She was not seriously injured but very stunned at the sudden occurrence! When she explained to the highway patrolman what had happened, he told
>> her something that every driver should know - NEVER DRIVE IN THE RAIN WITH YOUR CRUISE CONTROL ON. She had thought she was being cautious by setting the cruise control and maintaining a safe consistent speed in the rain. But the Highway Patrolman told her that if the cruise control is on and your car begins to hydroplane -- when your tyres lose contact with the road surface, your car will accelerate to a higher rate of speed and you take off like an aeroplane. She told the patrolman that was exactly what had occurred.
>> The Highway Patrol estimated her car was actually travelling through the air at 10 to 15 miles per hour faster than the speed set on the cruise
>> control. The patrolman said this warning should be listed, on the driver's seat sun-visor - NEVER USE THE CRUISE CONTROL WHEN THE ROAD SURFACE IS
>> WET OR ICY, along with the airbag warning. We tell our teenagers to set the cruise control and drive a safe speed - but we don't tell them to use
>> the cruise control only when the road surface is dry.
>> The only person the accident victim found, who knew this (besides the patrolman), was a man who had had a similar accident, totalled his car
>> and sustained severe injuries. If you send this to 15 people and only one of them doesn't know about this, then it was all worth it. You might have
>> saved a life.
>> Mick Farrag
>> Operations Manager
>> Queensland Mines Rescue Service
>> PO BOX 156
>> Dysart
>> Ph:  0749 581422
>> Fax: 0749 582399
>> Mobile: 0419 791087
>> Email:

Now who ever is sending this out has no idea about the concept of a cruise control system. Take these points for example:


- Unless the car is coasting down a very steep hill the system will not accelerate past the preset speed. It is almost impossible. How can driving in the wet make the system want to drive faster than the preset speed? Not to mention 10-15kmh faster!

- Have you ever lost traction at slow speeds in the wet? Look down at the speedo, it will show a much greater speed than what you are actually doing? The cruise control system sender for vehicle speed is the same at the speedo sender, so it the cruise has a preset speed to stick to and you loose traction the cruise will back off the throttle to compensate.

- The car in question must have had some kind of supercharged, turbo charged fool injected engine to make it capable to "take off like an aeroplane". Certainly you would need a lot of horsepower, and a very heavy application of the right foot, to achieve anything like that.

- The only example I can think of where the cruise system could be dangerous in the wet is on a winding road. If you are driving without cruise you tend to slow down on the windy bits, possible a little more so in the wet.  And with the cruise on the vehicle will maintain a constant speed no matter how tight the turn is. But surely this is just a matter of common sense and not the point that Mr Farrag is making.


Cars for dismantling.


Cars in this month include the following:


W115 220 1968, would you believe one owner from new! We purchased this car from the son of the elderly owner who had his license cancelled. The chap could remember his dad driving him around London in the car after picking it up from the factory in Stuttgart! Mechanically it is perfect but the body is suffering from elderly driver disease.


W123 280E 1977, this car was my sisters at one stage! Not a bad old car but the owner hit a rock which damaged both the engine sump and transmission cooler lines resulting in terminal damage.


 W123 280E 1978, another one, nice front panels and good auto, engine worn out


W123 300TD 1981, engine worn out, done at least 700000kms


W116 280SE 1974, been off the road for at least 10 years, was not a bad car when taken off the road



 If you are interested in parts from any of these cars please contact our Spare parts department toll free on 1300 787 300 or by e-mail to

Links of the month.

Alan Singer sent me the details of a new site dedicated to Mercedes SL's, you can find it at

Cars for Sale.

Once again lots of action in the Pre loved car department. We have sold the 250SE Cabriolet, ML430, the ML55, the W124 230E and the 450SEL. We have also sold a C220 CDI and a ML320 that have come in since the last newsletter.

If you were looking at the 250SE Cabriolet it is sold but we still have the 220SE Cabriolet for sale. It has been sent to Sydney and can be inspected by ringing Martin Kass on 0416 272 330.

New cars that are coming into stock include a 280CE, a S430, a E300 diesel and a 180E. The E300 Diesel is a very late model W210 version and is an excellent car. We should have photos  of most of these in the next few days.

If what you are dreaming of owning is not here then please feel free to contact me on 0419 295 458 and I will see what we can do to find you what you want.

You can check out all our cars for sale here:

New cars into stock:

S430 1999 model, one owner

E300 Diesel, Elegance spec 1999 model

180E 1993 model

230E W123 1985 model

280CE coupe 1979 model

Cars we have sold:

450SEL sedan 1974

250SE Cabriolet, 1967 classic

ML55 AMG wagon 2002 model

230E sedan 1989 model, only 132000kms

ML430, 2000 model only 35000kms

300TE wagon 1990 model

Also in stock we have:

220SEb Cabriolet, 1964 classic

190E, 1990 model

300SE sedan 1989 update version, only 90000kms

170S, classic sedan

170SD, classic Diesel sedan

CLK500 coupe, 2002 model

300E 2.6 1991 model

So that's it for another newsletter. Hope you liked what you saw. If you have any ideas or want to contribute any articles, pictures or other material please e-mail me here. Also, don't forget that you can check out the old newsletters here
Thanks, John Green.