Staff at the Paris Ritz hotel had been warned just two months before the fatal crash that the car was unsafe to drive at speeds over 37mph, according to one French photographer, according to Metro.
Previous inquiries have concluded that chauffeur Henri Paul, 41, was to blame for the death.
Paul lost control as he raced through the Alma Tunnel, next to the River Seine, while drunk and on anti-depressants, and trying to get away from pursuing photographers.
But a new book by photographer Pascal Rostain has claimed that the car – which belonged to Etoile Limousines, which supplied cars to the Ritz – was a ‘wreck’.
‘This Ritz car was a wreck,’ said Mr Rostain. ‘It had crashed before, and been rolled over several times.’
The car was ready to be broken up, said Mr Rostain, who said permission was then given to ‘re-make the vehicle.’
Mr Rostain said one of his friends at the Ritz, identified as a driver called Karim, took the Mercedes for a spin earlier in 1997 and warned senior staff about it.