Buckle up, this is a tasty one.
Earlier this summer I cautioned of cars that took vacations to Finland for few years and came back to the US with some well below average miles added. And by Finland, I meant shipped to Finland and driven straight into Russia before the needle could even move off the C peg in the instrument cluster. This is a scam with some high-end luxury cars, but has no paper trail and the numbers are fudged just enough that it has plausible deniability. The perfect crime. Wouldn’t you know it, another car that took a two-year vacation is up for sale in Las Vegas, and this Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG also got some cosmetic surgery while it was there. Red carbon fiber anyone?
Don’t sleep on the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Not saying you are, but they don’t seem to get a lot of love compared to all the other wild and crazy cars out there. Maybe it was just a strange time to launch an exotic super car, or maybe it looks too much like an SL, but I think this car is very much something that will go down in history as a car to have. I’ve pleaded the case many times before for the SLS, so I figured I’d do a yearly reminder that these are probably at the bottom of the price curve right now as they are nearing 10 years-old. It has Gullwing doors for goodness sake!
If you told me I had to go spend every last penny of my money that wasn’t used to sleep or eat, I’d probably go buy a Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG. Why? It has everything. Power, looks, exclusivity, and most importantly, Gullwing doors. In all seriousness, this car is a monster. My editor Carter instructed in one at a supercar event and the car looks like it was ready to eat every single cone for lunch then move onto eating the light poles next. This isn’t a re-bodied SL63 with some fancy doors. This is a exotic super car. It was first Mercedes-Benz automobile designed and built from scratch entirely by AMG. It had the the world’s most powerful naturally aspirated production series engine at the time. They had to nail this car and they did. In all honestly, I probably couldn’t handle this car at anything more than 50% of what it is capable of. It’s too much. One of my daily drivers is a 240D for heaven’s sake. All this still isn’t stopping me from saving every penny though.
The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG had the nearly impossible task of being the spiritual successor of the legendary 300SL Gullwing. I say ‘nearly impossible’ because if one car could measure up to the 300SL nearly 50 years later, the SLS AMG somehow managed. Jeremy Clarkson raved about SLS AMG calling it “the greatest car in the world” at the time and that ”this is the thinking man’s supercar”. I agree completely. The team at AMG managed to make a beautifully contoured car with Gullwing doors and somehow engineered it to get to 60 mph in the mid-three second range and top out at 200 mph. All of this is possible in a car so comfortable and easy to live with that you could use it as a daily driver. It was the ultimate grand tourer with doors to die for. Granted, if you were the kind of person to buy a SLS you almost certainly had other vehicles in your fleet and that seems to be the case with today’s car. This 2011 painted in the sleek Obsidain Black checks in with just 4,500 miles and looks every bit the part. The even better news, once you swing open those doors, the car only looks better.
To all our American readers, Happy Thanksgiving! To all our readers outside the United States, sorry you have to work today but hopefully today’s car makes up for it. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG was the spiritual successor to the legendary 300SL that was produced from 1954 to 1963, mainly because of it’s distinctive gullwing doors and blistering performance. When the SLS launched in 2010 it not only wowed people with its design but with it’s power that launched this car to 60 mph in the mid-three second range.
Of course like the original 300SL, a roadster would soon follow for the SLS, which is what today’s car in California is. I like to think of the roadster versions of the 300SL and SLS like when Michael Jordan quit basketball and went to play minor league baseball. Jordan built his legacy and fame in basketball so much that you literally had tens of thousands of people following him around just to watch him strike out in Birmingham, Alabama. That’s what happened with these cars – you take away the gullwing doors and it’s just another Mercedes roadster, just like Jordan was just another minor league baseball player. But it’s the past reputation, along with how great a driver’s car they were in the first place, that kept these models in demand and values on par with the original. Go check out values for a 300SL Roadster, they are usually in the $1,000,000 to $1,400,000 range, right where the gullwing cars are. The same is happening with the SLS, with the Roadster prices side by side with comparable Gullwing cars. Logic would say the whole point of this car was the doors and it would carry a premium over the Roadster, but I think that would be true if Mercedes-Benz mailed it in on the rest of the car — which they clearly didn’t.
While I try to vary the posts up a bit, there’s no denying that my regular “Motorsports Monday” posts are dominated by Porsche and BMW. Occasionally, I search far and wide and manage to include an Audi into the mix, but our readership undoubtedly doesn’t associate this column with Mercedes-Benz products. On top of that, the name of this particular car which is bucking that trend also isn’t unusually associated with the three-pointed star – “GT3”. So synonymous with Porsche is that combination of letters and a single number that one could overlook that it dictates the rules for an entire class of cars in the FIA. Since I like rather unusual candidates anyway, I was excited to see one of the very limited production C197 SLS GT3s come up for sale on eBay this week:
Reader Nik spotted this one a little while back and I had been keeping an eye on it. It has been listed a couple times and not generated any serious buyer. The seller is claiming it of 1 of 2 Brabus SLS cars in the states.
We all know Brabus has a history of taking Benz models, everything from the really expensive top of line cars, down to the tiny compact models and even Benz vans, and making them loud, fast, and aggressive. This SLS is not an exception. The addition of exterior Brabus parts are a little more subdued on the SLS, mostly because one expects the SLS to look exotic. Those who are familiar note the Brabus wheels and carbon fiber accents and aero kit. The Brabus exhaust most certainly adds even more V8 growl. What is pretty slick is like the suspension, the exhaust can be set to a sport mode using the Brabus buttons in the center console. The sport button electronically activates valves in the exhaust to provide more noise. This is a really old trick, though typically I associate exhaust dumps that bypass mufflers on cars that are a little less sophisticated, not that this is a bad thing. It doesn’t look like there is any Brabus work under the hood, other than programming, as the typical red Brabus accents are not seen. The interior however comes in bright red to contrast the smoke exterior.
This car has covered a mere 3,300 miles. The ask price on this uber-exclusive beast is just under $350,000. This is twice the price you would pay if you were bargain hunting an SLS so there is a fairly big premium placed on the Brabus package. From a purely horsepower standpoint that 611 horespower, up from 563 stock makes for some awfully expensive individual ponies. For some the sound alone is worth the price of admission, see video below of the exhaust cut outs in use on an SLS.
Having just returned from my annual “business trip” to the Glenora Wine Cellars, formerly Zippo, U.S. Vintage Grand Prix and Racing Festival in Watkins Glen New York I thought it would be appropriate to give you a taste of some of the German metal out on display. In the next couple of days I’ll put up some posts of several of the German street and race cars that I came across for sale while cruising the garage and paddock. Over the course of the weekend I saw all the major marques we cover, except one, represented racing on the track and though there wasn’t one racing, an Opel GT was prowling the car corral. If you ever find yourself near the Fingerlakes region of New York early in September put this event on your calendar. It continues to be one of the largest vintage racing events in the country seeing between 400 and 500 of the finest and funkiest vintage and modern classic racers zooming around the birth place of road racing in America. Here is a small look at a few of the German machines:
The fast included:
1. a legendary 2000 Audi R8 that turned the fastest time of all competitors with ease.
2. a pair of BMW CSL racers looking and sounding fantastic.
3. a pair of serious M powered Formula cars.
4. a new 2011 Mercedes SLS, parked next to an equally fast Ferrari 599, I overheard someone say both cars were for sale.
5. Speaking of fast and Ferrari, the Audi S4 pictured in this photo can be seen leading a Ferrari 355 challenge. When the rains came Sunday the Audi took control garnering a second place overall in its class race. Despite a fogged windshield, due to non functioning defroster, the Audi left the Ferrari far behind in a roar of turbo whine and quattro powered rain plumes.
6-7.Audi wasn’t the only German with a quest to beat up on Ferrari, note the badge on the rear of this mean sounding Mercedes 190E 2.3-16V. Unfortunately for this Merc it finished back in the pack unceremoniously being out driven by the likes of a 4 door Peugeot 505.
The funny included:
8-9. Some of the amusing Porsche badges on the Pirate Racing team.
10.a Mercedes 190E M sport.
11. a BMW 323i with a bumper sticker describing how it feels being out on the track.
The pretty included:
12. a nice looking BMW E28 M5
13. a cherry 500E with some contemporary German pals.
The doesn’t fit in any category:
14. a Vixen 21 BMW powered motorhome. These are extremely rare, 100 MPH RVs. Around 500 total were built and I suspect that combining the words high-speed and motorhome has resulted in far fewer surviving today. Ironically Jalopnik posted a picture of one just yesterday in a post about “Automotive Unicorns”. This one looked every bit like it came straight out of the movie Blade Runner. Very cool.