"White Elephant"
1998 Mercedes-Benz AMG C43 "PPG CART-FedEx Indycar Championship Pace car

In 1997, Mercedes-Benz commissioned AMG to produce two special versions of their C43 V8 cars for use as pace cars in the CART-FedEx Indycar championship series. The two were specially prepared, then shipped to PPG (Pittsburg Paint & Glass, CART sponsor for the pace cars) where they were stripped, their mechanicals removed, then painted in opposite color schemes of a metallic orange and purple, with hand painted lettering and detailing.
This cost MBNA a small fortune, as reported by their public relation point man in Indycar racing, Steve Potter.

Once the program was completed at the end of 1998, and as Mercedes pulled out of CART racing altogether due to a lack of performance of their racing engines, the two cars were returned to MBNA. Orders were given to destroy the two cars, as they were fitted with special parts and taken apart for paint, so MBNA did not want to assume any liability.

The one at left, that did track duty, was apparently dismantled and junked. The other was somehow given to Bob Snodgrass of Brumos Porsche in Florida, where it sat in the company's museum until 2005, when it was given by Bob as a gift to Philippe.


The copyrighted picture at left was supplied by a PR officer of CART to Philippe before their demise.


The second pace car saw little track use if any, and spent most of its two active years looking pretty under the PPG awning at their track display. It had less than 600 miles on its clock when given to Philippe. The color scheme is the reverse of the car shown above.  


  All the lettering, dots separating the colors and what appears to be PPG and fedEx stickers are actually hand painted. It is an amazing job. One cannot feel any difference in paint thickness when running one's fingers over the paint.


  Not exactly discreet, but a gorgeous paint job magnificently applied. it remains in mint condition 12 years later.


The wheels are color matched to each end of the car.  


  No sticker here, this is beautifully and artfully hand painted!


The "other" AMG pace cars


    First, the "other" car, that unfortunately no longer exist. It was fitted with special lights and a roll cage. This one did full-time track duty and was part of the cortege of PPG pace cars that were driven by ladies with some racing experience, wearing matching racing suits. They gave "rides" to selected spectators and VIPs.


  This is one of the few surviving pictures of this vehicle.


This C36 was used as pace car for the DTM series in Germany in 1995.    



A PPG modified AMG "S" coupe with 500HP V12 engine served as safety car in the FIA GT races in 1998.  


  Another PPG car, this C36 was the FIA GT medical emergency car in 1997.


Return to Full-Size Toys Menu


Go back to the home page