The One Dollar Car

That old Mercedes Benz, left in our yard for almost a year. Just sitting there, was more of an annoyance than anything. Until the process of getting rid of it opened up an interesting story about it’s past.

Late one night, a few of my housemates arrived home from a party out of town. But they weren’t alone. A ute came after, with an old car being pulled behind it on a trailer.

The story was surprisingly simple. ‘When I told — it was my birthday, he told me he’d sell me his dad’s old Mercedes for one dollar.’ So there it was. This housemate of mine had just gotten her license, and was given a 1974 Mercedes Benz just like that. For one dollar. The plan was to get the car back on the road of course. But some plans are over before they begin. A month later, my housemate and her boyfriend moved away to Sydney. Without the Mercedes.

For months and months that car remained on our lawn. Rusting away. Far too heavy to push, and impossible to even start. My housemate had taken the key with her you see. Finally we’d decided to get rid of it. We’d tried contacting our former housemates, but they would never reply. They obviously didn’t care about the car. But they wouldn’t send us the key either.

My father had taken a liking to the Mercedes however. When I had told him we were going to get it taken away, he quickly told us he’d be more than happy to take it instead. He decided he wanted to restore it to it’s former glory.

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There was just one problem however. Just giving the car to my father wouldn’t make him the official owner, and we didn’t even have the keys for it. ‘I could pay to get new keys made, but I couldn’t do it without a letter of purchase from the former owner.’ Damn. What were we going to do? Our former housemates wouldn’t reply to our messages, they wouldn’t be any help at all.

Then the idea hit me. Maybe, just maybe our old housemate wasn’t the official owner at all. Maybe the man who had given it to her in the first place was still the technical owner. Luckily, the Mercedes was left unlocked and I was able to do some investigating. Miraculously, the registration papers and car manual was in the glove box. But more importantly, I had found a letter of purchase, written to the man who had given it to my old housemate. He too had bought it for just one dollar. Yes, this was great news. It means that all we needed was for him to write my father a letter, making him the new owner.

The only problem was: what if he decided he wanted the car back? ‘Don’t you dare say that’ my father said. I laughed. It wasn’t long before I had contacted the man, telling him my father wanted the car and asking if he would agree to writing the letter. Fortunately he replied. But it was starting to look like he really did want the car back…

When all hope was lost however, he said ‘your father can have the car, as long as he wants to get it back on the road, I don’t want it to be scrapped.’ Victory. He also told me the car was special and mentioned that it belonged to a famous criminal. I found this intriguing and naturally wanted to hear more. Who was this famous criminal? If the car was so famous, why was it never sold for more than a dollar? Was there any truth this? We arranged a day that he and my father could meet. Hopefully he would tell us more about the car’s history.

Finally, the time came for my father to meet the owner of the Mercedes. As I had hoped, we were told the car’s interesting story:
Apparently, the Mercedes had belong to a renowned Australian criminal ‘Neddy Smith’ who had taken it as payment from a doctor who owed him money. I personally didn’t know who this man was, so I decided to do some investigating (yes I just googled it).

“Born 27 November 1944, Arthur Stanley Smith, also known as ‘Neddy’ Smith is an Australian criminal and crime writer who has been convicted of drug trafficking, theft, rape, armed robbery and murder.”

Neddy Smith had then given the car to a German man as payment for painting his house. This was the man who had sold the Mercedes to the current owner. The same man who had written the letter of purchase in the glove box. We were also told that the car had appeared briefly in the mini series ‘Blue Murder’. I decided to look into this as well and found a site that specialises in vehicles that are shown in certain movies. That’s when I found it. The 1974 Mercedes Benz that had appeared in one scene on the show. The photo shown on the site could have been better.. There’s no way of even telling if this was the same car in my yard.

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Anyway, it wasn’t long before the car was finally signed over to my dad. ‘What cost amount are you going to put down?’ My father asked.

‘One dollar.’

I guess I’ll never know if the story behind the Mercedes is true or false. But I think I’ll just believe in the story.

It’s more exciting that way.

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