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$1.7 million Mercedes hits zero in 10 blocks


NEW YORK -- DaimlerChrysler AG and its Mercedes-Benz USA unit were sued yesterday by a Los Angeles car dealer who wants his money back for a $1.7 million Mercedes AMG Roadster that died after driving only 10 blocks.

The silver two-door sports car - the most expensive production car ever built - started malfunctioning during its first customer test drive in 2004, Mark Johnston, the owner of Grand Prix Motors, said in a complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The lawsuit claims breach of contract and negligence and seeks a full refund for the car.

During the test drive, the 12-cylinder vehicle didn't shift properly and its oil light came on, the complaint said. The car's hydraulic jack system also malfunctioned and its windows came unglued. Mercedes refused to pay for the needed repairs and has left the car in a state of disrepair, according to the lawsuit.

The car, one of only six AMG Roadsters to have been built, was shipped to a Mercedes shop in Florida for repairs in August 2005. It's still not running, though, and was sent back to Los Angeles on a flatbed truck.

"The car was absolutely gorgeous, and we were excited about offering what we thought was a true gem to our customer base," Johnston said in a statement. "Unfortunately, the car turned out to be 'exotic' in the worst possible way."

The AMG Roadster is not a vehicle that is certified for sale in the United States and the car wasn't imported by Mercedes-Benz USA, Donna Boland, a spokeswoman for Montvale, N.J.-based DaimlerChrysler, said in a telephone interview.

"Basically, we don't have the wherewithal to service this vehicle," she said.

Shares of Stuttgart-based DaimlerChrysler, the world's fifth-largest vehicle maker, rose 19 cents to close at $46.75 yesterday on the New York Stock Exchange. They have dropped 8.4 percent this year.

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