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Download, print, drive

New-car tech marches ever onwards. But throughout our autos have remained (largely) made of steel, in a factory. Until now. A US company has unveiled a new two-seater vehicle that you build yourself, direct from your 3D printer. Called the ‘Strati’ – which is Italian for ‘layers’ – its seats and body panels are made using plastic, reinforced with carbon fibre. The wheel, suspension, electric motor and windscreen were built conventionally, however.

It’s all the doing of Local Motors, an Arizona-based company, which plans to sell the car for around £11,000. The car pictured is the first prototype, and Local Motors built it from scratch on its stand at a technology exhibition, held in Chicago. There are just 49 parts that need to be printed and, says Local Motors, you can build one in just 44 hours. The largest parts are almost 6ft across, necessitating a larger than usual printer. Home 3D printers are now beginning sale in the US – but it’ll be some time before any are sold that are sufficiently big – or clever – to print a car.

Mercedes CLS

Crystal Merc

And here’s another car you can buy. Not as cutting-edge technologically, perhaps. But, in its way, just as exceptional. What we have here is a Mercedes-Benz CLS 350CDi 4-door. Three years old and with 57,000 miles on the clock, this motor would, ordinarily, sell for around £20,000.

You can see, though, that this one is special. It’s covered in Swarovski crystals – over 100,000 of them. Student Daria Radionova had the work done back home in Russia, where a team work 12-hour days for two months to complete the task.

Ms Radionova, 21, now lives in London and has decided to sell the car, donating a tenth of the proceeds to the Manchester and Cheshire dogs home, which recently suffered a major fire. The auction is about to finish and, at time of writing, bids had reached £154,600. Swarovski made some of the finest glass crystals known. But whether the car is worth its bid price, only the buyer can really say.

Once it was yours you’d have to worry about the cost of body repairs should you scrape a wing while out in it. And, obtaining insurance for such a car could be well, erm, interesting. We must conclude, though, that to drive such a car you’d need more money than good sense. And, oh: we almost forgot. The reg plate “BA11 BYY’ appears to be included with the sale.

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