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Merc SLS GT3 vs '71 300 SEL AMG

  1. This weekend, Mercedes will contest the famous Spa 24hr race in Belgium with an SLS AMG GT3. And it’ll wear the colours of its elderly sibling; the Merc 300 SEL 6.8 AMG that took class honours in the 1971 Spa race and finished 2nd overall.

    The SLS is being run by privateer team Black Falcon, who have lathered the Merc with the old 300 SEL’s decals, including its number ‘35’, and will be driven by Thomas Jager, Stephane Lemeret and Kenneth Heyer. Ring a bell? Kenneth’s father, Hans, was part of the team that raced the 300 SEL in ‘71. Talk about continuity.

    Said Hans: “I’d be delighted if he wins at least second place.” No pressure then, son. Not least because the original 1971 win was a complete surprise for both Mercedes and AMG. The newly-formed skunk-works division of Merc was born in 1967 and that Spa weekend was the company’s first ever racing entry, going up against the Ford Capri RS, BMW 2800 CS, Chevy Camaro and even an Alfa Romeo GTA.

  2. And the astonishing thing is that while Hans secretly knew the big AMG saloon would bruise all (“we knew we could win, the others didn’t know it yet”), it suffered absolutely no technical difficulties over the 24hr period. At all.

    Based on an 300 SEL 6.3, the capacity was increased to 6.8-litres and power bumped from 250bhp to 428bhp via new camshafts and rocker arms, lightweight con rods, new Mahle pistons, larger intake valves, modified combustion chambers, polished intake and exhaust ducts and a racing exhaust. Old School.

    “It was certainly a sensation at the time”, recalls AMG founder Hans Werner Aufrecht.

    Reckon the SLS can mark its name on the pages of history? The race kicks off this weekend at 4pm, 30 July. Click through to see the young gun kick it with its granddaddy…

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