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  • Writer's pictureVilner

Vilner used ebony from a runaway boat in this blue Mercedes-Benz 250 CE

Before turning up in Bulgaria and finally resting in this Benz’s cockpit, those wood pieces were part of a boat cabin.


More specifically, a classic Riva Aquarama. The boat was constructed mainly from mahogany but this one was conceived with ebony inserts too. The vessel was built in the same year as the car, both owned by the same Saudi Arabian entrepreneur. The Riva had been kept in a climate-controlled warehouse just to be ensured that it will remain in pristine condition for the future generations. Unfortunately, sometime in 1988 the boat went missing without any trace. It was found nineteen years later in 2007 in Cairo. The condition: completely destroyed. The authorities failed to solve the case.

What happened with the boat still remains a mystery. The owner received what was left from his beloved Aquarama and decided to rebuild his 250 CE using some ebony pieces from the vessel in combination with walnut. Atanas Vilner doesn’t reveal all the details how the entrepreneur decided to contact his Art Studio, but says that this is the first Middle East commission since few years of absence.

It was a tough project. The car and some remains from the boat were shipped by sea, then there was a condition assessment and the work started. Team Vilner first selected some usable pieces of ebony for combining them with walnut and then pressing them into veneer in shapes required for the car.

The end result is fantastic. A cabin which is spectacular without being ‘too much’, all classic style with a very few exceptions – like the stereo and the LEDs. Becker Mexico was a perfect match, a high-end stereo which looks old school. But the most noticeable pieces are the speakers: they’re protected by perforated Lexan shields which glow in cold blue.

Unique atmosphere: pure classic look because of the wood and the blue leather, combined with the distinctivelly perforated Lexan, blue lights and speaker’s silver bezels - for a little bit of steampunk. You can see LED stripes on the floor, doors and even on the car’s ceiling which is laid with perforated Alcantara. Those holes are not there by chance - “We used perforation because of the original leather lining, to retain the classic atmosphere despite the technical fabric,” says Vilner. Brown is the color of choice for the floor and blue leather for the rest of the cabin.

Clear cockpit but with high-quality details. Like the frame piece around the gear leaver wrapped in Alcantara, the door restrainers made from leather and the door pockets. The seatbelts are now brown and the wheel is completely reimagined in black and blue leather. A corresponding custom bag made from the same materials used for the car was mandatory for a project like this. It’s a compliment from Vilner to the owner.

“We’ve created a remarkable car. An automobile which says a lot for its owner and which is a temple for the spirit of his beloved boat,” adds Atanas Vilner.

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