The car was part of a pool provided by the Paris Ritz Hotel, owned by Fayed's father. According to a new TV documentary based on the book "Who Killed Lady Di?" the S280 had been written off by insurance firms after an earlier accident, but the Ritz didn't pay attention to warnings about its safety.
The book's co-author Pascal Rostain, a well-known French paparazzi photographer, claims that two years before the fatal incident the car was stolen by a prisoner out on remand and ended up upside down in a field.
"This Ritz car was a wreck. It had crashed before, and been rolled over several times," Rostain said.
The Mercedes was supposed to be written off after the initial crash, but the then-owner received permission to repair it.
Rostain also claimed that one of his friends at the Ritz, a chauffeur named Karim, took the car out earlier in 1997 and warned senior staff that they should sell the vehicle, as it wasn't reliable on the road.
"Two months before the accident, [my friend]… said to [management at the Ritz]… that it was necessary to get rid of this wagon. At more than 60 kilometres-an-hour it didn't hold," Rostain said.
The documentarians behind "Death Of Diana: The Incredible Revelation," crash-tested a similar model and a technical expert concluded that the car should not have gone back on the road.
However, a Scotland Yard investigation into conspiracy theories about the deadly accident reported that experts found no problems with the car.