Croatian town to showcase Mercedes love affair with monument

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IMOTSKI, Croatia (Reuters) - A town in southern Croatia whose citizens are obsessed with Mercedes-Benz cars plans to build a monument to the German car that symbolizes success for its rural inhabitants.

About half of the 16,000 registered cars in Imotski, which is close to the border with Bosnia, are Mercedes cars, according to Ivan Topic Nota, the main promoter of the plan to build the Mercedes monument.

“I can assure you there are also many kept in the garages. I own 13 Mercedes old-timers (vintages) and four of them are registered for driving,” he said at a ceremony on Sunday to lay the foundation stone for the monument.

He added that the project also aimed to make it into the Guinness World Records by gathering the most Mercedes-Benz cars in one spot in September.

In the 1960s and 1970s, many people from the rural Imotski area went to work in West Germany to support their families back home. When they came for a visit or decided to move back, driving a Mercedes-Benz was seen as a sign of success.

“Those people earned a special kind of respect in the local community. A love story between the locals and Mercedes emerged, so don’t they deserve a monument as well?” Topic said.

The monument in Imotski will be made of stone and will represent Mercedes 115, a popular model among locals which was produced between 1968 and 1976. The cost of the monument is estimated at 450,000 kuna ($67,633.58).

“We’ve already collected half of that from donations, even the town authorities and our mayor were generous. In September we plan to set a Guinness world record by organizing a gathering of 2,000 Mercedes cars on one spot. It will also bring some funds,” Topic said.

Reporting by Antonio Bronic, writing by Igor Ilic, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise