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.
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
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:
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
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.
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:
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.
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.
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!
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.
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
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:
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Yep, @Miss_Mercedes30 got it right. The seller submitted this to @CarsAndBids a few months ago and we did a lot of research and determined it was a fake; the seller became very combative and insisted it was real. We told them we'd run it as a tribute car only. And that was that.
— Doug DeMuro (@DougDeMuro) March 17, 2023
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Bring back the chrome!!!!!!!
I feel bad for Guy Apparently Named Zach – not only did he never get his V8 motorcycle frame, after 17 years, he’s now wound up working at a shady used car dealer, futilely defending counterfeit Smarts, and, in a final twist of irony, has now become the one with no good cotomer sevis.
Bring a Trailer? Enabling shady dealers to commit fraud? On a daily basis?
This is my shocked face.
Well, not that shocked.
More like mild surprise.
Okay, even that’s a stretch at this point.
Yup. Money laundering at this point.
I did kind of laugh at the guy that bought a Bronco a little more than a year ago, and put it back on BaT in the past few months with no reserve and just lost $40k or something stupid.
Dealers sell cars. They know nothing about them.
They may know something about finance, but nothing else. A dealers word means nothing.
This was a really long story when it was very super obvious almost instantly that the car for sale was a fake . Not hating, just saying .
It’s nice, but it’s no Lindt Chocolate Bunny 😛
Shady business, that dealer! Love the article Merc!
Great research and information sleuthing, Mercedes! Also a follow-up on all that you’ve already shown as shortcomings in the dealer’s (and the vehicle’s) authenticity, when looking up real life photos and also brochure pictures (https://www.behance.net/gallery/18258523/smart-fortwo-edition-by-Jeremy-Scott) on the actual vehicle, those wings don’t have a parting seam running down the back, nor are there exposed fasteners on the inside of the wings like on the vehicle in question. So, unless Smart only built 10 of these (but happened to switch to entirely different production molds to create some subset of them), this vehicle is definitely tapping into the aftermarket for some copycatting.
Great piece and awesome detective work. Wish I had your knowledge when I’m looking to buy!
Mercedes, I love your tenacity here, and you even kept digging for more evidence even though you didn’t need to.
All you need to do is compare the fourth and fifth pictures in this article, and note that the angle of the top “feather” of the wings doesn’t match between the genuine article and this obvious (poor) knockoff.
I love these kind of geekout threads though, I’ve had a few myself, Back In The Day™. It’s funny how someone will dig in their heels even after having been clearly proven wrong.
Seems like the only thread you didn’t track down is the VW dealer who serviced it. Be interesting to hear what they have to say.
This is one of the greatest stories this site has posted yet. Deep nerdy and super niche content that is still written to engage and inform. I admit I’d gotten a bit jaded by the torrent of RV content from Mercedes, but all is forgiven and the account is full again.
From the responses, I don’t think English is the first language of the dealer. Combined with the doubling and tripling down insistences that increasingly denied evidence you raised leads me to suspect the dealer is the scammer.
I found three cars via BaT but that was years ago before they became an auction site, at a time when the stakes were generally much lower for most of the vehicles they featured. Given the nature and, ah, I’ll go with “modest” value of the cars in question, misrepresentation seemed unlikely and, indeed, for better or worse they were all exactly as described:
I wrote up a summary of the Metro for them, too, although of the three that’s the one I no longer own:
This looks like a prize for kicking a field goal at a Kansas City Chiefs game.
The great feature of BaT is the “those who know, know” people who can pick up the nuances that the less informed can make decisions based on the collective knowledge. I’ve never bought a car sight unseen, but I might on BaT. My user name here is the same over there so you can kind of tell where my interests lie. As I mentioned in the thread there, I was surprised that Mercedes wasn’t already signed up with them given how often BaT gets cited.
Smart sleuthing, Mercedes!
The dealer’s responses on BaT are pretty funny: someone has double-down as their only strategy.
I’m curious: as our resident Smart expert, what would you think this is worth? I’d understand if you’d rather not say until the auction closes.
It’s hard to say. If the paint were absolutely perfect, maybe $10k-$15k given this crazy market?
But since the paint is as sloppy as it is, I’d say maybe (?) under $10k. Those wheels are maybe $1,500, the wings $130, and not much for the brake handle, speakers, and other bits. So I think you’re really buying this for the custom interior, which looks pretty great to my eyes.
This was so compelling, like an agathie christie novel. That dealer sounds super shady. He probably sells undercoating, gap insurance and extended warranties! He needs a secretary to answer his emails, or at least someone who doesn’t write like the hulk talks.
Having never heard of it, I had to Google gap insurance: I honestly thought it might be insurance against changes in panel gaps over the life of the vehicle.
supposedly it is to cover the gap if you are upside down on your loan and total the car. Lets say you owe 10k but insurance says the car is only worth 5k, the gap insurance is supposed to cover that so you’re not making payments on a car you cant drive anymore. I’ve never heard of a single person in history for which this has worked as intended.
Nice work Mercedes! Too bad that BAT seems to have drunk the koolaid and won’t listen to your rational evidence-based explanation.
OTOH, the actual Jeremy Scott edition looks fantastic and I hope you’re able to add a real one to your collection one day.
Their reasoning for how a car announced in 2013 could have been sold in 2012 is one of the dumbest things I read in a while. At that point they’re trying to fool no one but themselves.
I feel that BaT’s ability to accurately represent a vehicle isn’t as good as it used to be. A good friend of mine who is a Vespa mechanic and has been restoring old Vespas for a long time and he has shown me several listings for poorly restored Vietnamese-built Vespas being passed off as Italian ones. The commentariat rightly ripped them to shreds yet BaT took no action to make corrections. As much as the commenters there can be annoying know-it-alls, I wouldn’t buy a vehicle there without scrolling through the comments to see if they caught something that BaT didn’t.
This also happens all the time now with dealers on BaT taking classic FIAT 500’s and passing it off as something that it clearly isn’t (the 1957-59 era 500’s, as well as Abarth and Giannini variants, are more desirable and genuine models fetch a premium over the others). I’m not sure if its the dealer or the seller who is at fault.
Unfortunately, the commentariat very rarely notices the details, understandably, as 500’s never sold in large numbers in North America. Just recently, a 60’s era 500D Trasformabile sold for a high price on BaT…the photos of the car clearly showed two
significantly different engines and the dealer forgot about the small detail that FIAT never made a “60’s 500D Trasformabile” (FIAT discontinued it in 1959).
Great article! I kind of like that interior of the concept model.
The concept shows the badge in the grille, while the car for sale shows the older badge placement on the hood. Why would the production car have the old placement?
What a fun read. Every time I thought it was about to end, you kept digging deeper. Funny how I’ve never seen a scammer that could communicate at a high school level or with the emotional maturity above a 10 year old.
By the way, in my reading, there was a point at which there were three ads in a row with enough white space in between to fill my entire monitor. Not complaining, just letting you know to look into it.
I think I was up until 1am last night poring over this car!
I’ll have someone look into the ad thing. I think something about how the pictures are formatted is confusing the bot that places the ads.
This is similar to the “I can’t go to bed, sweetie, someone on the internet is wrong!” meme, except you’re actually being informative and potentially helping someone avoid a serious misrepresentation, so keep at it!
Don’t worry, I’ve corrected almost all of those people. This weekend should do it.
Man, the dealer is getting drug in the BaT comments. Good job, Mercedes. More crooked dealers need to be called out.
I’m not sure they’re being crooked here, I think they got duped by someone and just don’t want to admit it.
That was my assumption when I first went into this. I’ve been in the Smart world for 15 years and I’ve seen all kinds of weird replicas, tributes, and mods. I’ve even seen people make up their own special editions, which is weird on its own. So, that was my conclusion from the jump. I was genuinely surprised to see the dealership doubling and tripling down.
Maybe the dealer paid too much thinking it was real and now it has to make the money back or take a massive loss.
I mean, that’s still being crooked? If they pass it on to someone else without properly disclosing it?
Getting duped and proceeding to dupe someone else in response definitely makes you crooked
Great sleuthing! And a fun read, I had never heard about the Jeremy Scott edition.