Merc AMG’s Black Series cars
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Here are Merc AMG’s Black Series cars

The new Mercedes SLS ‘Black Series’ has come amongst us. Here are its brothers…

  • It's a well-known fact that AMG is Mercedes-Benz's in-house tuning firm. It's a lesser-known fact that AMG started out as two men in a shed.

    Welcome to 1967, when former Merc employees Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher set up the famous German skunk works at Aufrecht's birthplace, Grossaspach as an independent tuning company. These chaps had a penchant for massively powered motors and fell in love with tuning the Mercedes 300, building racing models from it. Witness the 300 SEL 6.8 AMG that took a surprise victory in the '71 Spa 24hrs...

    They slowly grew in size and stature and eventually became an official part of Mercedes-Benz, with the first 'proper' AMG the 1995 C36. In 2007, the company - which still operates a 'one man, one engine' philosophy - rolled out a hardcore version of the SLK AMG, and thus gave birth to the 'Black Series' range. Welcome to the dark side...

    Words: Vijay Pattni

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  • Mercedes-Benz SLK55 AMG Black Series

    Clearly, 360bhp in an SLK was never enough. And this brings up an unwritten but patently obvious AMG philosophy; more is never enough. The engineers beefed up the ‘standard' SLK55 AMG's 5.5-litre V8 by modifying the air intake, adding an AMG sports air filter and a full, specially developed AMG sports exhaust system.

  • These tweaks boosted power from 360bhp to 400bhp, and torque from 376lb ft to 384lb ft, fed through a seven-speed transmission with manual drive controlled by, naturally, steering-wheel mounted aluminium shift paddles. 0-62mph was dealt with in 4.5 seconds (down from 4.9 seconds), 0-125mph was two seconds up on the standard AMG at 15.5 seconds, and the limiter was removed for a 173mph top speed.

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  • AMG fitted height-adjustable torsion suspension optimised for the race-track - including adjustable dampers - together with 19in lightweight forged alloy wheels, a strut brace across the engine bay and 360mm front brakes. A limited slip diff was also offered as an option.

  • The front wings were even more muscular and made from carbon-fibre reinforced plastic, and AMG also fitted a restyled front apron together with larger air intakes and side air outlets to ensure sufficient cooling for that V8. Toasty. Inside there were two AMG bucket seats (sans airbags), silver AMG logos and a carbon-fibre door panels. Just 120 models were built between July 2006 and April 2007.

  • Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series

    Correctly thinking that the first, original Black Series model was a splendid idea, AMG rolled out the next one in the shape of the CLK63 AMG Black, apparently designed after the official Formula 1 safety car of the time. And as before, the engine was given a thorough tutorial at AMG's 'UFC Combat: Advanced' class. It graduated with merit...

  • The standard 6.2-litre AMG V8 benefited from a magnesium dual-intake manifold with two internal butterfly valves, a less restrictive exhaust system and a new ECU to produce 507bhp (up from 474bhp), dropping the 0-62mph time to 4.3 seconds and upping the top speed to 186mph. The physical manifestation of this speed came via liquified internal organs and a ruddy loud and massively intoxicating exhaust note.

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  • AMG fitted two lower brace struts, 19in forged aluminium wheels hiding 14.1in brakes (13in at the back), wider axles (which necessitated wider wings front and rear) and new steering gear for extra precision. As before, adjustable suspension was standard which allowed ride height, camber and toe-in tuning, and you got two AMG bucket seats inside with carbon fibre door inserts.

  • The result? Well, a few years ago it made Jeremy go all soft in the brain when he tested it on the telly, making him rediscover the joy of "driving a great car, on a great road". 700 models of the CLK63 Black were built between April 2007 and March 2008.

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  • Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series

    This is the most powerful Black Series car ever built. OK, so just two AMG Blacks were built before it, but weighing in at 670bhp and 737lb ft of torque, it is a genuine heavyweight.

    Seconds out, round three...

  • AMG replaced the 6.0-litre V12's turbochargers with specially developed blowers incorporating a new spiral cross-section (12 per cent bigger), fitted a modified air intake duct and, of course, an AMG sports exhaust said to "produce a distinctive 12-cylinder sound" (read: LOUD). And while you're making that noise, it also covers ground in a dandy fashion: 0-62mph takes 3.9 seconds and it's limited (limited) to a top speed of 199mph.

  • The roof is made of CFRP with an integral rollover bar (binning the SL's drop-top), there's a CFRP spoiler, twin-spoke AMG 19in wheels and 390mm front discs (360mm rears). The engineers fitted adjustable coil spring suspension (allowing for driver adjustments) sitting on a track 97mm wider at the front and 85mm wider at the rear. They even fitted a limited slip diff as standard and a five-speed automatic gearbox with four transmission modes.

  • As per usual, the SL Black came with unyielding and adamantine sports bucket seats, an AMG performance steering wheel, carbon trim and the obligatory ‘Black Series' lettering for the innards. There's even a white rev counter. Just 350 models of the SL Black saw the light of day, built between September 2008 and August 2009.

  • Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series

    Following on from a new but rather powerful tradition of extremifying Mercedes' most extreme models, the new C Coupe gets the full-blown AMG treatment. More power, better suspension, a shoutier bodykit and a faster set of performance statistics. Question is, are you tempted by one?

    After all, it certainly looks the part. And sounds like pure, pure, evil...

    Read about the new C63 Black here, and see new pictures of the C63 Black here

  • Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series

    It's only the fifth entrant into a growing Benz family of ballistically quick cars with riotously unruly engine notes. And this one's no different: Mercedes has swapped the standard SLS's steel system for a titanium exhaust that not only reduces back pressure and weight (it's 13kg lighter), it's also LOUDER.

  • That said, they've taken inspiration from the SLS AMG GT3 racer, and have been rather busy with the Merc's 6.2-litre V8. The rev limiter has been raised from 7,200rpm to 8,000rpm, there's a larger inlet manifold, a high lift camshaft, lighter bearings and stiffer conrods, amongst other things, which help boost power from 563bhp to 622bhp. That's a lot, if you need reminding. Somehow though, the 6.2's torque has dropped from 479lb ft in the standard SLS, to 469lb ft in the Black.

  • AMG has also managed to shed around 70kg from the SLS's kerbweight to a relatively lithe (for a big super/GT car) 1,550kg. This is thanks to lots of carbon fibre, which also appears on the bodywork: there's a deeper CF front spoiler, bonnet and rear diffuser, along with an aero package including a fixed rear wing. The front wings are flared, you get darkened headlamps and bigger air intakes too. Talk about shouty.

  • Here's the bit you really want to feed your forum companions with: 0-62mph takes 3.6 seconds - 0.2s quicker than the standard car - while top speed sits at 196mph. Like it?

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