Home » Why I Think This ‘Holy Grail’ Smart For Sale On Bring A Trailer Is A Fake

Why I Think This ‘Holy Grail’ Smart For Sale On Bring A Trailer Is A Fake

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As many of you dear readers know, I suffer from an affliction. Since May 2008, I have been addicted to the Smart Fortwo. My love for these cars has been a curse and a blessing–from the unfortunate emails that I get from haters of the tiny car brand, to the fun moments like when I finally found one of my holy grails, a hard-to-find Canadian diesel Smart Fortwo. Having this addiction also allows me to spot when things just aren’t right. A “Smart Fortwo Edition by Jeremy Scott” has appeared on Bring a Trailer. It’s believed that just three of these things exist in America, so it would be a total holy grail and sort of a big deal. But here’s the thing: It seems clear to me that the car isn’t what the seller says it is.

Back on November 28, 2012, Mercedes-Benz announced a properly daft Smart concept car. The Smart Forjeremy was a collaboration between Smart and fashion designer Jeremy Scott. The Smart Fortwo Electric Drive was emblazoned with striking red and white wings hanging off of the back that incorporated the rear taillights.

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Mercedes-Benz

While this was the highlight of the concept car’s design, the vehicle also featured a bunch of other neat changes. I love the car’s chrome-plated safety cell, and the interior looked glorious.

Shiny And Chrome

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Mercedes-Benz

Yeah, I know yokes are all sorts of stupid, but I dig it. I even love how this concept car ditches the Fortwo’s normally boring black plastic interior panels for bright white and chrome. Mercedes-Benz says Jeremy Scott worked with designers at the Smart Design Division at the Mercedes-Benz Cars Advanced Design Studios in California. There, it took him eight months to realize the concept.

The Smart Forjeremy concept car was unveiled right before the 2012 LA Auto Show at Jim Henson Studios. At the time, Mercedes-Benz said the vehicle would go into limited production. Then, on April 13, 2013, Smart unveiled the production version. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the production version wasn’t a dramatic change from a regular Fortwo:

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Smart Fortwo Edition By Jeremy Scott, 451
Mercedes-Benz

A pair of wings replaced the plastic tailgate surrounds, and the interior was draped in white leather. The chrome bits didn’t make the cut and neither did the yoke. Smart and Mercedes-Benz haven’t given exact production numbers for these, but enthusiasts speculate that there are just 10 of them out there, only 3 of which are in the United States.

A Smart Mystery

2012 Smart Fortwo Pic54 2 70225 (1)

Starting back in December, Autopian readers and Smart fans have been sending me a listing for a “2012 Smart Fortwo Edition by Jeremy Scott” and maybe for a second or two I got excited. I’ve seen just one of these, but only online and at an auto show. To see one that was out in the wild was almost mind-blowing… almost.

Pretty much immediately, I ran into a problem. Remember how I just said Smart unveiled the production version in April 2013? Read that press release further and you’ll also note that Mercedes-Benz said production was to begin in April 2013. But this Jeremy Scott Smart is a 2012, so what’s going on here?

I ran the VIN and it, indeed, came back as a 2012 model. Then I checked the manufacturing label affixed to the door sill and sure enough, it says this car was built in January 2012. Now, I am not the best at math, but it would appear that this car was built nearly 12 months before the Forjeremy concept car was showcased and nearly 16 months before the production version was even announced. Also, remember how I said it took Jeremy Scott eight months to design the concept car? This car existed before Scott even draped a set of wings on a Smart.

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All of this ignores the fact that this car is nothing like the production version. In the Mercedes-Benz press release, the marque indicates that production Smart Fortwo Edition by Jeremy Scott vehicles will come painted in white with a gray safety cell, white wheels, and those wings. Inside, the interior would have white diamond-stitched leather seats, door cards, and a white steering wheel. Check it out:

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Mercedes-Benz

Also important is the fact that production versions have Jeremy Scott branding all over, from the floormats to the mirrors and tailgate. Smart makes its special editions special.

This 2012 I keep seeing in my email inbox and now on Bring a Trailer? Well, it’s red, very red. Red paint covers the safety cell, grille surround, door handles, and the entirety of the mirrors, including their bases. As one of the experts on Smart in this country, I can confidently tell you that I know of no Smart that has ever been sold in this country with mirror-bases painted like that from the factory. Smart’s mirror-bases are gray plastic, not body color. Smart’s American branch has also, to my knowledge, never sold a car with red windshield wipers, or red vents.

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Perhaps the most damning aspect of this paint is that when you look closely enough, you’ll notice what looks like red overspay, including on the manufacturing sticker. I’ve never seen that in the possibly thousands of Smarts I’ve seen in my life. At least, not on cars that still had factory paint.

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The interior of this car is more of the same — not what you’d see on an authentic Jeremy Scott car. The car for sale’s cabin is actually really lovely, with quilted leather from the dashboard to the seats. This Smart is far nicer inside than all five of my Smarts combined!

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Something of note is the steering wheel. This is another part that Smarts in North America never got. The car also has illuminated door sill inserts that weirdly have Smart’s old logo font. Both of these, to me, are further signs that this is just a custom Smart Fortwo Passion, not the far rarer Smart Fortwo Edition by Jeremy Scott. I mean, Mercedes-Benz said right in the press release what you’re getting and almost none of this seems to match.

The selling dealership, Dunlap Imports of Upland, California, originally had the car listed for $37,000. The dealership’s website has the car labeled as “2012 SMART PASSION SUPER RARE JEREMY SCOOTS EDITION 1 OF 3 SOLD IN U.S AND 10 WERE MADE FOR THE WORLD.”

When I first saw the ad, I cautioned my Smart friends that it was more likely than not a replica of a Jeremy Scott Smart. After those warnings, I left it alone.

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The Auction

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Then the Fortwo appeared on Bring a Trailer, being sold by the dealer. This listing was, perhaps, even worse than the original, because it made the claim that the engine was tuned by Brabus. As far as I know, that can’t be true. Back when Smart first came to America in 2008, Smart USA said it certified just one engine and one tune, the 999cc Mitsubishi 3B21 three-cylinder making 70 HP and 68 lb-ft torque. From 2008 to 2015, all gas-powered Fortwos sold in America have this engine, even cars with the Brabus package.

Given the tons of money collectors spend on Bring a Trailer, I decided to reach out to both the dealership and Bring a Trailer to warn them about the laundry list of discrepancies. I was concerned that someone may have pulled a fast one on the dealership and that the dealership was not aware of what happened.

Bring a Trailer’s representative told me that the platform will reach out to the seller and have them prove the car’s legitimacy. Meanwhile, the dealership said this:

white on silver were for electric cars white on red were gas cars

BRABUS ALSO MADE SMART CROSS BLADES AND OVER 1500 OF THEM WERE MADE HERE ARE THE COMPS AND THIS CAR IS ONE OF 10 MADE AND 3 SOLD IN U.S

2012 Smart Fortwo Pic17 3 (2)

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The dealership offered no citation about the car coming in specific colors by powertrain. Certainly, Mercedes-Benz never mentions such a thing in its own press releases. A pair of these were on display in China with red safety cells, but those appear to be holiday wraps, which is something that Smart is known for.

As for the Smart Crossblade, Smart did make those and they’re real grails, but this isn’t a Crossblade so that’s entirely irrelevant. To get back on track, I asked the dealership to explain how this car was built at least 11 months before the concept was presented and at least 15 months before the production version was announced. After all, it would mean that this production Jeremy Scott–which isn’t even the right color–was produced nearly a year before the concept car was, which doesn’t make sense.

To further elaborate, according to the car’s CarFax, it was leased new to someone in California around April or May 2012. That person didn’t put a ton of miles on the car, but they did get it serviced at a Volkswagen dealership. Are we to assume that someone was driving around in this crazy rare car several months before even the concept debuted? The dealership gave this response:

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if the show in china happen in 2013 cars needed to be ready before that. as the parts for these cars were special how else one could get the 16 inch wheel for the front 17 for the back. Brabus day running lights. special Brabus Steering with paddle shifter. Brabus hand brake handle. all these car has navi, heated seat and pano roof. For a show in April of 13 cars had to build before. i have not found on sale any were in the world.

cars were not painted at the factory they were done at Brabus who modified them.

the trim were painted by Brabus and the rest of the modifications

i’m a dealer this is the way i got the car. as most of the panels are plastic possible the red part were resprayed.

This, once again, doesn’t make sense to me. Assume that yes, Smart had to build the production version before it built the concept. Why would Smart service its own car at a Volkswagen dealership? Or, why would Smart sell this rare car before the concept was even revealed?

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This stuff about Brabus is also confusing. Mercedes says the cars would come with Brabus wheels and a Brabus powertrain; there’s nothing about Brabus paint. Keep in mind that U.S. versions of Smarts don’t have Brabus powertrains, so this was just an appearance package. Brabus would have no need to paint the cars red as Smart is perfectly capable of doing that itself. If Brabus did paint the car, I would think the quality would look better than what I see here.

In response, the dealership said:

try googling the parts on this car and see if you can find one for sale. this wheels were only made for smart car and these only for smart. after market parts are not available anywhere. seats door panels are stitched so well. i have seen and bought many modified car by Brabus, Gambala and others. never seen this quality of work inside the car. as there are only 10 made and online information is mostly preproduction.

Challenge accepted. Click this link to look at Brabus Monoblock VI wheels for sale by Smart Madness (see below). This company is legitimate and has served the Smart community in America since these cars came here. I’ve purchased genuine Brabus parts from Smart Madness and there’s no reason to think that these are fake or otherwise fishy. The only difference between these wheels and the ones on the car is that the ones on the car have polished lips.

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I should also note that in America, the Brabus package was available in 2009, then was revived in 2013 for a few more years, so this doesn’t meet the timeline for being an official Brabus car.

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Click this link to take a look at the replica wings on Alibaba (see below) and click here to check out the Brabus brake handle (which looks like the one in the picture above). Here’s a link to the metal brake pedal covers. I won’t go down the entire list of mods, but I think the point is clear: There’s nothing featured on this car that you can’t buy.

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Image: Aliexpress

As for the interior, this car was originally sold just two hours from Smart Madness. The shop does custom Smart interiors and I’ve seen the work in person; it’s top-notch. Smart Madness has “pimped” out Smarts for the likes of Simon Cowell and Justin Bieber! So, a nice interior doesn’t mean anything. That’s all ignoring the fact that none of the Jeremy Scott badging is anywhere on this car.

However, to give the dealership some benefit of the doubt, I decided to reach out to Mercedes-Benz USA inquiring about this vehicle. Smart pulled out of America in 2019 and Smart USA no longer exists, so the best point of contact now is Smart’s now former U.S. distributor, Mercedes-Benz USA.

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In response to telling them I reached out to Mercedes, the car’s seller sent me the weirdest response yet:

car was made by Brabus so Mercedes contact will not help second this car is a smart car not mercedes and smart dealer sold this car stock and Brabus won’t give any information. so the wing is at alibaba and wheels could be bought from some other website. were will you get the hand brake handle made for Jermey scotts cars. Brabus didn’t sell each part separate to make replicas and brabus steering. If all these part were available there would have been more replicas

its a different company under Mercedes, call any mercedes dealer in the country and give them vin see what happens

So, this is just weird. Smart was a subsidiary of Mercedes-Benz in 2012. Today, the brand is jointly owned by Mercedes and Geely. All Smart Fortwos (even Brabus models) are built in Hambach, France at the factory that is now occupied by Ineos. They’ll continue to be built there, under contract with Ineos, until 2024.

Smarts in America were first distributed by Penske Automotive Group. In 2011, PAG transferred Smart USA operations to Mercedes-Benz USA. The Smart dealer that sold this car is a Mercedes-Benz dealer.

Still A Fun Car

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At this point, Bring a Trailer has apparently finished its investigation and amended the “Smart Fortwo edition by Jeremy Scott” listing to say “Forjeremy-Style 2012 Smart Fortwo.” Weirdly, the dealership remains adamant that this is either the real deal holy grail or at the very least a real Brabus. Once again, it’s missing a bunch of parts that would qualify it as a real Brabus. If none of this is convincing, I decided to run the VIN through a decoder. The codes in the VIN suggest that this car left the factory with 12-spoke wheels, a gray safety cell, white panels, and a gray interior with heated cloth seats.

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Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great custom car! I’d love to put this low-mileage leather-y wonder in my fleet. But it is almost certainly not a real Smart Fortwo Edition by Jeremy Scott. Nothing about this car adds up. It was built over a year too early, is painted in the wrong colors, and the paint is of questionable quality. Of course, I’m open to being wrong, and I’m hopeful Mercedes-Benz USA will put this to bed. I will update if I hear back.

I think the moral of this story is: be careful when bidding on cars online. Without weirdos like me prowling the pages of these sites, you might plunk down a ton of cash for a car that isn’t exactly what you think it is.

Update: I heard back from Mercedes-Benz USA. Unfortunately, the company said that it could not confirm the legitimacy of this vehicle.

Update: As it turns out, I wasn’t the only one who thinks this car is a phony.

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Bobfish
Bobfish
11 months ago

Excellent article, calm expertise beats blustering falsehood every time! (Or it should)
Nothing wrong with replicas/tributes – especially with super limited cars. Just… like don’t lie.

Max Poodling
Max Poodling
11 months ago

I’m pretty sure the seller is now using another account to both bid on their other listing and defend the Smart.

Dean Reimer
Dean Reimer
11 months ago

Good breakdown of all the tells on this fake! And the subliterate responses from the dealer are on-brand for a scammer.

Who does the seller think they are going to fool, though? The only people that will spend big money on an extremely limited edition Smart ForTwo are people like Mercedes that will actually know what they’re looking at.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
11 months ago

I was gonna give them the benefit of the doubt, that maybe one of the 3 originals was wrecked and the special parts transferred to a different Smart, so you could claim the uniquely Jeremy parts are at least real, but that Alibaba link throws that theory in the trash.

This is clearly a classic example of the dealership overpaying for something they thought was valuable but isn’t, and is now panicking and doubling down on insisting that it’s real rather than admitting that they were suckered into buying a replica.

Black Peter
Black Peter
11 months ago

This is the perfect nexus between pedantry and consumer advocacy.

Opa Carriker
Opa Carriker
11 months ago

I would classify this entire article as a Tempest in a Teapot. Or Much Ado About Nothing. How anyone could get so worked up over a miserable little excuse for a car because someone put ridiculous wings on it. What is it, a PF Flyer Edition?

Rant ended.

Jonee Eisen
Jonee Eisen
11 months ago
Reply to  Opa Carriker

It was a fun read and Smarts are awesome.

DadBod
DadBod
11 months ago
Reply to  Opa Carriker

u mad bro

TheWombatQueen
TheWombatQueen
11 months ago
Reply to  Opa Carriker

Considering that money is at stake, it’s important to someone, and it was entertaining to read anyway. Plus this kind of article is very on-brand for The Autopian.

Also, I realize this is the comment section of a quirky automotive news site, but…

Ratio.

Wordguy
Wordguy
11 months ago

Great story! A bit of mystery, a bit of controversy, and I learned a ton about Smart Fortwos.

Mannish
Mannish
11 months ago

Wow… whats really galling is that this is the second times they’ve tried this. According to Doug Demuro’s tweet they tried to list this on Cars And Bids a few months ago, C&B did the research, confirmed it’s a fake and refused to list it.

https://twitter.com/DougDeMuro/status/1636591996268847104

Mannish
Mannish
11 months ago
Reply to  Mannish

E: beaten!

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
11 months ago
Reply to  Mannish

C&B is more stringent than BaT? Would’ve never guess that.

Jb996
Jb996
11 months ago

Do you know how to instantly tell that you’re about to be ripped off?

It’s being sold by a Dealer.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
11 months ago

“Coming soon to Netflix: ‘Mercedes Streeter: Smart Detective.'”

Bobfish
Bobfish
11 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Buchholz

5 years ago Netflix would have already greenlit this. Taking down Factory 5 Cobra Replicas, grizzled old partner who survived the Ferrari-Fiero days, etc.

Trenton Abernathy
Trenton Abernathy
11 months ago

What do you mean? This is the Jeremy Scoot edition. Not to be confused with the Jeremy Scott edition

Toddyus
Toddyus
11 months ago

It’s super-fishy, but it’s being sold by a car dealer. Everyone knows they can’t lie, so it must be real.

Max Poodling
Max Poodling
11 months ago
Reply to  Toddyus

They even still have it for sale on their website, so you know it’s legit!
http://dunlapimports.com/site/listings/2012-smart-passion-super-rare-jeremy-scotts-edition-1-of-3-sold-in-u-s/

Mantis Toboggan, MD
Mantis Toboggan, MD
11 months ago
Reply to  Max Poodling

Gone now. Hopefully it didn’t sell and the internet heat got to be too much for them.

Drew
Drew
11 months ago

Gotta love the ever-shifting goalposts the dealer offered. You find the wheels, the wings, and various other parts and it’s now the handbrake that “proves” it’s real. I think this dealer knew the whole time. Glad you called him out on it, because too many people get by with this crap.

I once sold a pistol that had been customized by a company that no longer offered the same services. I had contacted them to see if I could get the history, but they said there were no longer records. The buyer turned around and posted it for sale as having been done by the most well-known and exclusive gunsmith they’d ever employed. People love to make a quick buck by asserting something is the most valuable thing they could reasonably claim it to be.

Taargus Taargus
Taargus Taargus
11 months ago

This reads like the Smart equivalent of a dealer making excuses after trying to sell drugs to a cop. I love it.

RentalCarGuy
RentalCarGuy
11 months ago

I’m not sure about the total number of 10 cars. It might be correct, but my gut would have said more.

Whatr I’m sure about: I know who drove one. Annette Winckler, back then smart CEO and as such a very high-ranking Daimler manager, did. She lived and breathed smart, and it was always exciting to see the little ForJeremy standing between all the black S-Classes whenever she attended a meeting in Stuttgart.

Chris D
Chris D
11 months ago

That dealer’s English is not native, and his capitalization and punctuation are lazy, incorrect and non-existent. His knowledge of Smart cars is less then his understanding of the King’s English, or the modern Colonial version. This has dishonesty and used-car-salesman sleaze all over it. Some poor fool is going to get suckered.

MikeInTheWoods
MikeInTheWoods
11 months ago
Reply to  Chris D

I have a suspicion we have reached peak Human, and are sliding down the bell curve towards ignorant Human a few generations from being extinct.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
11 months ago

Jeremy who?

Steve Walton
Steve Walton
11 months ago

He’s a fashion designer (whodathunkit based on this car) who was born in Missouri. This is amusing given that this is the “Show Me!” state…and Mercedes Streeter just absolutely showed what was going on here.

Thomas The Tank Engine
Thomas The Tank Engine
11 months ago

“Jeremy who?”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeremy_Scott

You are *on* the internet, you could have easily looked this up.

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