Winning Amount: £ 13,550.00
User ID: P*****y
“Behold the German Ferrari. We didn't think those buttoned-down, left-brain Deutschers had it in 'em, but this latest AMG accurately captures the otherworldly rocket-propelled acceleration and Gravitron cornering effects and even some of the charming quirks of a small-line Italian exotic.” Car and Driver, November 2002
Mercedes-Benz; bywords for Teutonic Efficiency and when investing often not inconsiderable sums in their products, you know what you are getting - clinically efficient machinery that does the job, possibly with substance taking priority over style or heaven forbid panache. However, occasionally those crazy guys at Stuttgart “go off on one” and cars like the SL55 AMG result. Having bought tuning gurus AMG in house at the turn of the Millennium, Mercedes encouraged them to work their magic throughout the range and one of the first models they focused their attention on was the R230 generation Sportlich-Leicht Grand Tourer come Sports Car.
With its neat ‘best of both worlds’ folding metal roof (Vario Roof in marketing parlance), the SL500 was a more than capable bit of kit. An uber-luxurious cabin, just two seats and doors contained in a neat and stylish body propelled by a not inconsiderable 300 plus brake horse power V8 engine. The memo from head office to the AMG wing might have suggested either an engine capacity increase or forced induction but something got lost in translation and the SL55 AMG appeared with both. Stroked to 5.4 litres, the 24 valve all aluminium engine also gained an IHI supercharger boosting to 11.6 psi through an air/water intercooler for additional charge density taking the power output up to a gnat’s off 500 bhp with a side order of 516.32 lb/ft of torque – don’t forget the 0.32. Technically this is known as ‘stonking’. Hand assembled with goodies such as forged aluminium pistons, heavy duty bearings (cross bolted in the case of the mains), uprated oil pump and sump, redesigned cams, better breathing manifolds and double valve springs – just like a 1960’s Mini Cooper – this was an absolute tour de force of a unit.
All this grunt was channelled through a 5 speed automatic ‘box – or as Mercedes preferred to call it, a ‘SpeedShift Manumatic’, which sounds like something that combines a washing machine and time travel. This offered three modes; normal, winter and manual in which, via either wheel mounted buttons or the gear lever, you could hold a cog right up to the rev limiter – highly recommended! The end result: 0-60 in 4.4 seconds, 0-100 in 10.9 and a top speed a PC limited 155 mph (though the Constabulary’s PCs might insist on a slightly lower limit). Ironically, if you gave Mercedes another slug of money, they would raise this limit to 186 mph and rumour has it that with no limiter at all, 208 was achievable. Obviously we don’t need to tell you that the Lysholm type supercharger employed achieves all this without the whine of the traditional Roots blower but this actually seemed to suit the SL55’s ‘under the radar’ character.
Massive discs were installed to harness all that performance and at 14 inch diameter they were equivalent to the wheel sizes sported by junior supercars from just a couple of decades earlier. Vented and cross drilled of course, up front they were clamped by callipers with no fewer than eight (yes eight) pistons and all this physical prowess was finessed by a ‘Sensotronic Brake Control’ system.
Handling was impressive for such a relatively large machine with Active Body Control; an electro-mechano-hydraulic “almost active” (isn’t that a bit like almost pregnant?) set up recalibrated for the AMG but not overly harsh even on UK roads. Fitted, as this car is, with the rare three level Mercedes handling kit, there was a mode for every eventuality and mood. Speed sensitive rack and pinion steering, again an improvement on the SL500’s, was complimented by that provided by 516lb/ft of torque controlled by your right foot.
Despite its Hot Rod nature AMG actually took the lush, plush interior of the SL500 and upped the luxury quotient; the archetypal velvet glove was on the inside of the iron fist in this case. Aside from the generous depth carpet, if a surface wasn’t swathed in finest leather, it was either alcantara or aluminium. Again upgraded from its less fortunate sibling, the SL55 sported sculpted bucket seats with plenty of support for the 0.9g cornering forces all the mechanical goodies made attainable.
So, significantly more special in every area compared to the cooking SL500, the 55’s price tag was also similarly special; with a generous number of ticks in the options boxes this AMG cost its original owner no less than £109,000 back in August 2003. Fastidiously maintained by Mercedes-Benz while he covered just 2,000 miles over the next four years, the car was then offered for sale and the current and only other owner entered the picture. Having looked at six or seven other SL55’s and rejected them all as being sub his admittedly very high standards, he parted with just over half the cars original purchase price to own this flagship machine with little more than delivery miles under its wheels. In fact the first owner had had a set a Brabus wheels fitted before collecting the car and the original wheels and tyres, completely unused, were reunited with the car when he parted with it. Since then the Mercedes has been used sparingly, mostly in the summer months, and it is this lack of use and a desire to revisit his love of other V8 bruisers – TVR’s obviously – that has precipitated its sale.
Finished in sparkling Iridium Silver there is little to say about the car’s paint or bodywork other than it is as close to how it was the day it left the Mercedes-Benz showroom as makes no difference.
The interior of the SL is in similarly outstanding order and a testament to the quality of the materials employed when the car was built with just the lightest of light creasing to the seats, a world away from the descriptive safe house of ‘patina’. The bespoke AMG wheels are unmarked and the premium brand tyres have a good amount of tread remaining, with the fronts being virtually new.
With a full Mercedes-Benz main dealer or recognised Specialist service history, as one might expect especially given its age and mileage, this SL55 is in fine order mechanically with everything working exactly as it should.
Well specified from new the SL55 sports such goodies as heated electric memory seats with adjustable lumbar support, 18” AMG wheels, electrically folding mirrors, an on-board computer, cruise control, electronic stability programme, anti-lock brakes, central locking, air bags all round, and an alarm/immobiliser. The owner has also added a couple of subtle upgrades; the steering wheel has been re-trimmed in black and blue Nappa leather to match the rest of the interior and a DP Performance rear boot lip spoiler that integrates perfectly with the car’s lines plus a later model front grill (though the original is supplied with it) have been fitted.
A quick scan of other machines available would lead us to conclude that the owner has taken a more than realistic view of the car’s value and it is reserved accordingly.
Having gone through the ‘anvil off a cliff’ phase of its depreciation curve, we can’t help but think that for between a half and quarter of the price of its 1960s ancestor, this generation of SL makes a shrewd buy and the high performance, low volume AMG versions doubly so. It may well be something of a cliché but by this era of Mercedes’ standards this SL55 is barely run in and we feel it represents a golden opportunity for a buyer to make not only a wise future classic purchase but also a pretty savvy financial move too.