Mercedes-Benz Comes to Oaxaca to Show the SLS AMG GT3 and More

March 26th, 2010

The GT3 is not pretty; it’s all function. Mercedes and AMG have built a state-of-the-art machine that was unveiled in Mexico this week to a select crowd of journalists and, presumably, potential buyers. It was intended to be a shot heard round the sports-car world.

M-B also brought other interesting cars to show—an actual 300SL Gullwing racer from the 1950s (to commemorate the marque’s great victories in the Carrera Panamericana road race of yore) and some examples of its production road car, the SLS AMG, on which the GT3 is based. We’ll discuss these in a bit and show you pix on the continuation page. But first, the main message.

The SLS AMG GT3 complies with FIA specs and is designed as a customer car. That means it’s for those who will race in the popular GT3 class at places like Spa-Francorchamps, Belgium, and the Nürburgring in Germany—and so the car is closer to a production (non-GT3) version than cars that run at, say, Le Mans.

The Benz press release says:

the AMG 6.3 liter V8 engine is virtually identical to that of the series production vehicle. Thanks to its low weight, the acceleration figures for the GT3—3.7 seconds for the sprint from 0 to 60 mph—are considerably below the already excellent figures for the series production vehicle. Depending on gear ratio, the top speed is more than 186 mph.

A big carbon fiber lip in front (splitter) and an enormous wing in back frame a car with cooling vents galore, aerodynamic bodywork, a roll cage, stripped-down interior, and a mostly carbon-fiber body. It will be light, and it will be fast. You can see it at the New York Auto Show, opening April 2.

The SLS AMG road car finally appeared late last year, and some went slightly bananas over the return of the Gullwing. Jay Leno took a more reasonable stance and did an excellent video with some driving footage and shots of the 300SL he is restoring. Worth a look.

M-B brought a couple of these new SLS cars to Oaxaca, one of which was painted “AMG Desert Gold.” This looks to be the one-off that was shown in Dubai in December 2009. As you can see, some angles look better than others, but the details are beautifully executed. As to the color, well, AMGDG wouldn’t be my first pick.

Benz recently announced an SLS AMG base price of €177,310, including VAT ($237,403.86 U.S.), and the company will take orders beginning November 16. However, if you want the ceramic composite high-performance braking system, be prepared to fork over an extra €11,305. There is also a long list of performance and appearance/convenience options to consider.

Finally, and memorably to a few of us who recall the old days, the Carrera-winning (1952, I think) 300SL appeared with its new offspring. One or two of the old drivers, Hans Hermann and John Fitch among them, also came to reminisce. So, by email, did my friend Budd, whom I’ve mentioned before:

In the 60s, I owned a 300SLR from the 1955 Mexican Road Race. It was the one Karl Kling drove. Full race! Space frame, HD suspension, WILD engine. Buzzard bars on the windshield. The only upholstered parts of the interior were the seats, which were plaid fabric, fitted to each driver. Hard as granite.

Got it for $5,500, and sold it after a few months frustration, to a cameraman friend who took it out on the highway and stuffed it under a semi. He spent a fortune fixing it up. What cars those 300SLs were! Only $7,000 off the floor.

Right now, prices for vintage ‘50s Gullwing coupes are buzzing past $700,000. “A pair of 300SLs [great pix at this link!] for sale in 2009 were offered at over $1.3M USD from the Foxwood Collection, demonstrating that the price of and demand for this classic remain strong.”

As they say, Budd, everything’s relative.

We’d be interested to hear from those of you who have seen or driven a 300SL. What are/were your impressions? Please leave us a comment.

—jgoods

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  1. | #1

    I’ve never seen one in person, but the 300SL that starred in a bad ’80s movie called “Thief of Hearts” looked *amazing*. I’d definitely rather have an old one of those than the new SLS AMG.

  1. | #1
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