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Top Gear Tunnel Run

Listen to a V12-engined Mercedes S600 scream down a tunnel

Merc’s 12-pot gets a trick exhaust, ends up sounding like an old F1 car. Turn it up!

Published: 31 May 2024
9 minutes 25 seconds

Top Gear’s Tunnel Run is all about celebrating big, shouty noises from big (and sometimes small) shouty cars. So welcome the latest entry: the [checks notes] famously quiet, soundproof and hugely comfortable Mercedes S600 limousine!

Yes, a car famed for its double-glazed windows, muted engine, superlative road manners and pioneering technology has somehow found itself lined up in a really long tunnel.

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Thing is, the Merc S600’s 6.0-litre V12 – here tuned for discreet, pin-drop silence chauffeuring – was also the beating heart of the original Pagani Zonda; a car not exactly famous for discreet, pin-drop silence chauffeuring. Which means lurking just underneath the V12’s impeccable manners lies a maniac.

A man in Japan knew how to unleash it. Into the story comes Sasaki-san, who runs a garage south of Tokyo building exhaust manifolds. He built a bespoke one, slapped it on the big bruiser and filmed it ripping around Japan at night. Very quickly, the car became a bit of an internet sensation.

Something Top Gear’s roving snapper Mark Riccioni couldn’t resist – he bought Sasaki-san’s V12 Merc and shipped it back to Blighty. It’s a proper S600 AMG, too, so you get an uprated engine with new pistons, cams and an ECU, that AMG body kit and wheels, and… AMG everything else.

But forget everything else for now. Sasaki-san’s magic manifold has turned this sleeper into a screamer. Turn it up loud to travel back to the days of V12-engined F1 cars…

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Car: Mercedes S600
Engine: 6.0-litre n/a V12
Power: 439bhp
Price: £60,000
Top speed: 155mph
Noise: 129.6dB


Photography: Mark Riccioni

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