by Teddy Field
performance. These letters adorn the most powerful cars in the Mercedes
model range, and they proudly flank the name of Stuttgart’s latest
carnal creation, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. What started out as a simple
tuning company has turned into a religion, and its followers willingly
sacrifice premium gas & Z-Rated tires to worship at the altar of the
44 years ago, Mercedes engineers Hans
Aufrecht and Erhart Melcher decided to strike out on their own, building
race engines based on their former employer’s proven designs. Their
intimate knowledge of Mercedes Benz engines meant the little firm could
take an already amazing engine, and turn it into a tire-shredding
masterpiece. However, they needed a suitable stage to debut their
talents, and that wouldn’t come for another 4 years.
In 1971, the
tiny shop in Affalterbach was busy crafting an engine that would help
make their name an acronym for unbridled performance. They started by
lifting the almighty M100 V8 from the engine bay of a Mercedes 300 SEL
6.3 (at the time, this was earth’s fastest production sedan), then they
bored it out to 6.8 liters.
After poking and prodding the beast,
it rewarded them with 428 horsepower & 448 ft-lb of torque, a
considerable increase over the stock M100’s 286-bhp.
beast was returned to its lair, they set about modifying the rest of the
car for racing. Steel doors were remade using lightweight aluminum.
Unnecessary trim was removed, and a curb weight of 3,637 lbs was finally
realized (oddly enough, they left the air conditioning, power steering,
carpet, and wood trim in the car).
Next, the fenders were
flared to accommodate the boulder-sized racing slicks, and a bright red
racing livery was added. AMG’s monster was finally ready.
entered the car in the 1971 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps, and
collectively held their breath. Driver Hans Heyer & Co-driver
Clemens Schickentanz managed to qualify 5th out of a field of 60 cars.
And, they were piloting the only Mercedes-Benz on the grid.
hours & 308 laps later, Heyer and his red monster roared past the
checkered flag, clinching 1st in class, and 2nd overall. AMG had just
made an astounding entrance.
Forty years, and
thousands of engines/cars later, AMG has teamed with Black Falcon
Racing to celebrate the car and race that launched the company. Using
the first production car to be completely designed and built in
Affalterbach–a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG GT3–the spirit of the original
300 SEL 6.3 racer will be conjured up with an exact replica of the
monster’s racing livery.
Kenneth will be one of the three drivers to pilot the SLS AMG in this
weekend’s 24 hours of Spa-Francorchamps. Hans said that he “will be
delighted if he [Kenneth] wins at least second place!”
Who knows, maybe history will repeat itself.