What would be a worthy fate for the surprise runner-up in a legendary 24-hour race? One would think more races. Or maybe an exquisite stand in the museum? The former actually existed for the Mercedes 300 SEL 6.8 AMG. The stately 1,635-kilo athlete was allowed to complete eight further starts within two years - including the 2 4 hours at the Nürburgring . However, the five-meter ship, affectionately known as the 'red pig' behind closed doors, did not finish on its second round-the-clock mission in the Eifel.
Racing car with a unique fate
The V8 with a 24-hour race trim that was 398 hp, but later increased to 428 hp, remained a place of honor in the museum - Sedan, however, denied. A fate that was unique in racing car history flourished for the weighty four-seater: it was called up - by the French arms company Matra. On the military test front, the red racer for the Air Force, equipped with excellent sprinter qualities, was supposed to search for suitable runways for fighter jets by accelerating at one kilometer to 200 km /h.
For this purpose, the rear-wheel drive car has been extensively converted, provided with all kinds of measuring systems and approved for the road. Then the now 2,400 kilogram former high-performance athlete disappeared into French nirvana. That could have been the inglorious end of a short but certainly noteworthy career had it not been for the 40th anniversary of AMG. In order to be able to celebrate the unique anniversary that sport auto follows with a two-year delay, the decision was made to rebuild the legendary racing car on the basis of a preserved production Mercedes 300 SEL.
The original V8 racing engine developed 420 hp
This is shared by the fiery red replica, which looks like the racing car that was so successfully piloted by Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz in Spa The icing on the cake is the same, including the technology. As the original racing engine and its racing clutch were a diva and difficult to get to work, the AMG engineers quickly implanted a 350 hp 6.3 liter engine into the replica. This and the four-speed automatic coupled to it in favor of problem-free starting maneuvers (theOriginal used a manual five-speed gearbox) certainly cost the newcomer in historical dress temperament.
On a first jaunt in and around Affalterbach, the street-legal red racer was more conspicuous with its pithy roar and idle-jet roaring reminiscent of the noises of large-caliber firearms than with a brilliant pull on the chain. But it doesn't matter: With its 350 hp, it is difficult enough to keep the V8 crusher, which has cambered over three degrees on the rear axle, safely on undulating country roads. On the other hand, the seating position in the well-contoured, four-point seat belts is hardly less pleasing than in the current Mercedes S 63 AMG, which is strictly reserved for everyday use.
The current AMG model costs at least 137,683 euros
Ergonomics were already possible in Affalterbach back then - pardon: Burgstetten. It was there that the AMG founding fathers, Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, put together their racing SEL based on the body shell of an accident vehicle in endless day and night shifts in 1969/70. In the end, the theoretical value of the V8 racing car including material and wages added up to around 120,000 marks. The current S 63 AMG is no longer available for such little money. At least 137,683 euros have to shell out if you want to own the luxury Mercedes, which has now grown to 5.12 meters in length. But there is also around 100 horsepower and 400 kilos on top.
The impressive weight gain does not make itself unpleasantly noticeable - on the contrary. Inside the dignified touring limousine with space for five, a sense of wellbeing is just as popular as in your living room. Even watching TV is not a problem. As long as the car is stationary, the front occupants can receive and enjoy all common satellite programs in the best picture and sound quality. Notorious roaring, banging and banging, without which nothing works with the Mercedes racing limo of the early seventies, is of course not an issue with the current Mercedes S-Class. There is hardly a more enjoyable travel than in the S 63 AMG. V8 travelers glide through their own ideal world, unmolested by rolling and outside noises.
The racing SEL is faster than the S 63 AMG
Only the 525 PS naturally aspirated engine, which still has a 6.3 liter displacement, is allowed in Express your voice emphatically in this dignified environment. The vehement step on the gas pedal is followed by hoarse-throaty AMG V8 babbling. The new five-meter-plus limousine walks just like the pig despite its handicap of around two tonnes live weight: within 4.6 seconds, the speed limit is 100. The production car of the early 1970s took 6.7 seconds to do the same exercise. In terms of top speed, the current S has to let the old racing SEL go.
TheFollowing the voluntary self-restraint of the German automotive industry, even with the top model at 250 km /h, fun is over. Then the electronics slow down. The fiery red Swabian Rennerle, on the other hand, was once allowed to dash over the track at up to 285 km /h. However, we prefer not to know how that might have felt. The high-speed dance of the 300 SEL 6.8 AMG should not have had much in common with the stoic straight-line quality of the present. More like it - this is suggested by the entertaining driving behavior of the big red at country road speed - with squeaky jolly back-and-forth pacing. But a little undisguised joie de vivre doesn't hurt - does it?