Mercedes-Benz: SLS AMG Black Series Caught Storming the ‘Ring

June 18, 2012

This was the sort of thing that was always lingering away in the ‘Inevitable’ files of modern Benz motoring ever since the God-of-Thunder SLS was bestowed upon the motoring landscape back in 2010 – an AMG ‘Black Series’ version of the gullwinged ‘bahn-stormer due in 2013.

Spy shots a-plenty have come scourging in from the formidable testing ground for all-things fast and rumbly over the past several months showing an SLS clad in awkward body-armour, permeating its signature bark ‘n wail throughout the twisting and diving Eiffel region. Now, fresh onto the Land o’ Internet comes this newest video showing the forthcoming SLS Black negotiating a slow-speed corner before rousing up a mechanically thunderous soundtrack to the delight of onlookers and YouTubers…

Aside from the obvious wheel-arch extensions to accomodate a slightly wider track (and wheels), the word on the street seems to be that this next AMG Black Edition will come embellished with close to (a faintly ridiculous) 650 bhp and an even-faster shifting version of the 7-speed DCT gearbox (same one used in the Ferrari 458). Shame that no proper manual transmission will ever be offered – think of how truly exciting that would be..! Hello AMG…?!?

Further details on the SLS Black are unsurprisingly scant at best for now, so why not have a gander below at the Black Series lineage so far to date in helping to remind of AMG’s bouts of occassional madness (and the not-so – hello SLK55 ‘Black’) within this often-dour automotive shift plane…

The ’07-’09 CLK63 AMG Black

The bonkers ’09 SL65 AMG Black

The not-so bonkers SLK55 AMG Black…

The latest Black – the C63 AMG

-Blake J.

Photos of the Day: Jackie Stewart vs. The Nurburgring

December 19, 2011

Today’s POTD focuses on Sir Jackie Stewart and his nemesis: The Nurburgring Nordschleife.

Flying at the Nurburgring in 1969

It was Sir Jackie himself who coined the famous term ‘The Green Hell’ towards the demanding and terrifying circuit, yet it was also Sir Jackie who studied it, mastered it and conquered it. And nowhere was this most impressively evident than in 1968 during the German Grand Prix held at the Nurburgring amidst simply appalling weather conditions…

Starting grid at the rain-soaked/fog-blinding 1968 German Grand Prix

The notorious heavy rain and thick fog of the region had descended upon the Eiffel mountains with a vengeance that day and, even then, teams and spectators were surprised that the race wasn’t cancelled.

Accidents were a-plenty and many cars retired within the first few laps of the race, but Sir Jackie drove on throughout the rain-battered, fog-engulfed mellee with exquisite, precisional concentration – almost ‘feeling’ his way around the course lap after lap, usually relying on his memory of the endless dips and cambers as the blanketed fog prohibited any real view of what lay ahead… Incredible.

Stewart 'feeling' his way around the terrifying circuit

As the chequered flag fell, Jackie crossed the finish line a full 4 minutes ahead of the next car and soon after offered-up his descriptive ‘Green Hell’ tag that has stuck with the challenging circuit to this very day.

Brave brave man...

A short vid from the ‘Murray Walker F1 Greats’ series…

-Blake J.

Video/Spotlight: RUF CTR ‘Yellowbird’ – Insane Nurburgring Lap

November 28, 2011

We’ve all seen our fair share of ‘hot’ laps from the Nurburgring throughout our Internet years, yet there are only a select few that actually manage to focus your undivided attention and drop your gaping maw at the same time – this is one of those rare moments.

When I was a teenaged petrolhead in the late 80’s I remember motoring-talk of some underground/dubbed VHS video showing a complete nutter by the name of Stefan Roser slinging a yellow Porsche 911 around the Nurburgring, setting a production-car lap record with this mythical beast in the process… albeit, an almost entirely sideways one.

It was called the CTR ‘Yellowbird’ and it was made by a specialty German sportscar manufacturer called RUF (The German Government recognizes RUF as a manufcturer, not a tuning company, hence the reason why you’ll never see ‘Porsche’ in the names of their creations). The performance figures alone seemed to defy the laws of right and wrong – 469 bhp and 408 lb-ft of torque from its twin-turbo 3.4L flat-6 / 0-60 in 3.7 sec., 0-100 in 7.8 sec. (!) / 1170 kg / top speed: 211 mph… In 1987, it was faster than both the Ferrari F40 and Porsche 959 Supercars.

The 469 bhp powerplant responsible for making 911s go very sideways

In the late 90’s I managed to track down a DVD-copy (of a copy of a copy of a…) of this legendary ‘Faszination’ video and I still watch it in utter amazement. In the days of no traction control or stability aids/nannies whatsoever, this impressive feat of driving is a timely reminder of the raw skills required to harness, control and almost-balletically exploit ferociously capable power against the forces of nature. At times, Stefan Roser comes across like he’s dancing with the CTR. Oh, to be embued with the might to drive a car like this at (or even remotely near) the limit…

Stefan Roser, just out for a leisurely Sunday drive...

As you can see, Stefan wasn’t wearing gloves or even a helmet. He even managed this slice of unbelievable driving while wearing his everyday slip-on deck shoes (some say he was just wearing socks)… All of this lairiness happening on a public-day at the Nurburgring with 469 bhp slung out back and a manual transmission to negotiate (again, sideways) through it all – Truly mind-boggling and courageous.

-Blake J.

Nordschleife 1970: Entertaining Crash Video from Adenauer Forst

October 27, 2011

Carrying on from yesterday’s Nurburgring Vintage Green Hell Photos entry, I thought I’d share this always-entertaining video footage from 1970 detailing an endless series of hilariously knife-edge near-crashes and dramatically violent roll-overs (in road-going cars!) captured during a Public-Day outing and filmed at the famed Adenauer Forst bend.

The Adenauer Forst bend - where scary things can happen

The Adenauer Forst section of the Nordschleife has been catching drivers off-guard ever since, well… ever since the Nurburgring has existed, really. It’s a tricky, blind, uphill bend where you’re rising towards it, at speed, before being introduced to a rather sharp left followed by a sharp right. Carry-in too much speed and you’re either missing the bendy part of the track and proceeding straight-lined through the dirt/grass before un-gracefully depositing yourself back onto the track (or barrelling straight into the woods/barrier) or you’re paying the price of having to collect-up the evil forces of inertia and gravity as you attempt to make-right what you’ve done-wrong… and then you crash …in one of many various ways.

Just out for a casual dip around the lovely Eiffel Mountains - or so you thought

Watching the video again, it remains almost shocking to see the near-zero levels of safety concerns that the drivers instilled upon themselves (and their passengers) in case, you know, something went horribly wrong. Some people seem to have been simply driving home from work (or running errands) and whimsically decided to ‘pop on by’ the Nurburgring for a quick lap, as evidenced by the hilarious amount of paperwork and assorted household detritus that litters the track on some of the more-exciting roll-over crashes… Insane, and I love it.

For those that have never seen this video before – you’re in for a treat..!

-Blake J.

The Nurburgring: When It Truly Was A ‘Green Hell’

October 26, 2011

The legendary Nurburgring is without a doubt the most strenuously demanding, psychologically challenging, beautifully designed and dangerously captivating race track the world has ever seen – not to mention the longest in length as well.

Nothing but hedgerows, ditches and trees to cushion your crash back then...

Nowadays, the Nurburgring plays host to a vast assemblage of events, ranging from many various one-make race series to annual long-distance race events, public days, press days, private days, etc. etc… and now there’s even a Shopping Mall and a mini roller-coaster… but let’s not address those recent ‘developments’ per se.

...and the odd fence

It was 3-time F1 World Champion, Sir Jackie Stewart, that famously coined the term ‘The Green Hell’ upon the then-14.2 mile (now 12.9 mile) main course circuit back in the 1960’s. Looking at these vintage colour photos (and video below) before the safety concerns (and barriers) of later years existed, one could easily see how the slightest of mistakes could potentially cost you your life.

When it was basically a stretch of tarmac scything through the Eiffel Mountains

Can you imagine what it must have been like to hit speeds upwards of 150+ mph back when it looked like this…?!

24-hour races, when it was foggy or rainy, must have been terrifying

An excellent vintage 3-D map to give an idea of the constant elevation changes

Here’s a great video from 1967 offering a greatly detailed and onboard view of the grass-lined circuit from an F1 driver’s perspective…

-Blake J.

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