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Throwback Thursday: Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

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Engineers at Mercedes-Benz could see the future in 2011. With an emphasis on fuel economy, their big V8 would be replaced by smaller ones with twin turbos. AMG was started by 2 Mercedes-Benz employees who refused to drive slow cars. Their answer was to stuff the legendary 6.3L V8 into everything.

They made such an impact that Daimler purchased them in 2005, and AMG was chomping at the bit to build their own car. So once the ink was dry, they were given a blank check to develop their own supercar. It couldn’t be mediocre by any means, since it was going to be the successor to the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren.

What they did was shock the world. The Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG arrived as a gullwing coupe, a modern interpretation of the legendary 300 SL.

As the first car ever built entirely by AMG, they went all out. The legendary 6.3L V8 was blessed with big cams, new valvetrain geometry, variable intake, tuned length exhaust headers, and a dry-sump oil pan. It arrived with 563 horsepower at a screaming 6,800 rpm. Not just for high revving, it made 479 lb-ft of torque at 4,750 rpm. It is still one of the highest output naturally aspirated V8 engines to ever be produced. No silly turbos or blowers, it was all motor with an exhaust note more evil than the Ride of the Valkyries.

Following the natural evolution of the original SL, we wondered if a SLS AMG Roadster was on the horizon. Our questions were answered when our Publisher secured the rights to order the first Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Roadster for the US. Mr. duPont’s collection is not subtle by any means, so he checked off every box. I had only worked here 3 weeks when it arrived.

My previous career was in the Corvette aftermarket, so I was unprepared for German precision. I loved my Vettes, but this car left nothing on the table. It cornered with incredible feedback because it had traditional hydraulic power steering. Sure it had a tinge of understeer because of the long nose. That is why the brakes were better than anything I had experienced before. The sleek lines and “Alubeam” silver paint were pleasing in any light. And the most beautiful part was knowing you had Thor’s hammer stuffed under the hood.

No complicated menus or interface to distract you. It arrived with an 1,100 watt Bang & Olufsen surround sound that could overpower the booming exhaust. Throttle response was instant, almost as if it was carbureted. No matter who makes it, every modern car has some delay from pedal to intake. This car was and is the end of an era. I have driven newer examples of the SL63 and the S63 cabriolet over the past 8 years, and nothing gets close to the SLS AMG. Don’t believe me? Watch Mr. Leno extol its virtues below, then click the link to see all the great offers from our dealers.