Mercedes-Benz will be releasing its new 2011 S63 AMG this fall and has chosen to dress it up like the famed 6.8-liter 300SEL endurance racer that once competed in the 24 Hours of Spa.
In 1971, the 300SEL took to the track of Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium to prove its mettle in that year’s 24 Hours of Spa, and it performed admirably. Facing heavily favored racers including the Ford Capri RS, BMW 2800 CS, Chevrolet Camaro, Opel Commodore, and Alfa Romeo GTA, the 300SEL placed second after completing 308 laps around the scenic track, behind a Capri and ahead of a Camaro. The Mercedes recorded few mechanical issues but had to refuel often. Following its second-place finish, the red 300SEL gained international acclaim, especially in its home country of Germany. Mercedes even built 300 replicas in 2006.
To celebrate its 1971 success, Mercedes wrapped its new 2011 S63 AMG with matching sponsor decals, looking to channel the spirit of the old AMG-prepped 300SEL. Debuting in the S-Class is AMG’s new twin-turbocharged V-8, a hand-built marvel that is more powerful and less fuel-thirsty than the outgoing 6.2-liter V-8.
After adapting the exterior, the two speedy sedans were sent around Spa for a classic photo shoot, and Hans Heyer (co-driver in 1971) was on hand with his trademark Tyrolean hat. As you can tell from the photos, the sticker placements are impeccable.
Mercedes sedan comparison
Engine — 6.8-liter V-8 (6.3-liter for the standard 300SEL 6.3)
Power — 422 horsepower, 448 pound-feet of torque (247 horsepower, 369 pound-feet of torque for the non-AMG version)
Weight — 3600 pounds
Top speed — 165 mph
1971 24 Hours of Spa drivers — Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz
2011 S63 AMG
Engine — 5.5-liter twin-turbocharged V-8
Power — 536 horsepower, 590 pound-feet of torque (563 horsepower, 664 pound-feet of torque with performance package)
Weight — 4700 pounds (estimate)
Top speed — 155 mph (186 mph with performance package)
The 2010 24 Hours of Spa will be held July 29 to August 1.