LALD Car Week: AMG 500SEC

Mercedes-Benz, for all their racing success, has sometimes gone off the beaten path in their pursuit of glory. And sometimes they’ve been dragged off it, particularly when it comes to their now in-house tuning arm, AMG. Their madness has given us some of the greatest Mercedes racers in history, including the the famed Rote Sau, the big red 300SEL 6.8 which placed second at the Spa 24H in 1971. In 1989, they decided to go nuts again and attack Spa with an unlikely chassis, the full size C126 S-class coupe. In street trim, it was the autobahn bruiser to have, with an imposing presence, big V8, and opulent interior (for the day). But it was fat, weighing in at nearly two tons, and only came with a 4-speed automatic gearbox. Enter AMG...

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The crew at Affalterbach, faced with turning this new Schwarz Sau into a racing machine, promptly put it on a diet to meet Group A regulations. They were able to strip over 700lbs from the big coupe, reaching a race weight of about 2950 pounds despite keeping the interior wood trim and electric windows. They also set to work on the venerable M117 V8, more than doubling its output to 460hp. Because that kind of power would have spelled certain doom for the standard 722 automatic transmission, they also fitted a Getrag 5-speed manual box. Remarkably, these cars were intended to be used in DTM instead of the 190E! Before they ever turned a wheel there, AMG realized that the mandated tires simply would not last under the car’s mass and power. So they were mothballed until being dragged out for Spa.

Qualifying 10th and 11th in a field chock full of touring car legends, the big SECs unfortunately could not withstand the punishment of endurance racing on the famed Ardennes circuit, and both suffered DNFs. This car, driven by Le Mans winner Klaus Ludwig, Hans Heyer, and Alain Cudini, suffered a gearbox failure, while its sister number 5 broke an axle (according to racingsportscars.com). An ignominious end for an otherwise magnificent fit of German madness. On to the rest of the pics:

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The model is in 1:43 from AutoArt, and it’s a stunner. Crisp lines, accurate proportions, fine chrome, great graphics and sharp wheels. Now I need a Red Pig to go with it. An interesting aside: one of the only reasons these cars saw the light of day again was due to the interest of a model car enthusiast named Horst Krämer, who wanted to replicate it in scale form! AMG graciously pulled one of them from its vault for him to study, and here we are. Live and let diecast, indeed. Check out a great read on the car here:

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It’s been too long since I posted, almost a year, since 1:1 projects have taken precedence lately. Nice to shoot and write something up again, I’ll try to keep it up as there’s much to share! Car Week has been awesome, you guys are bringing the heat!

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