Believe it or not, it’s been more than a decade since hardcore, hardtop Black Series version of Mercedes SL made BMW M6 look tame.
Over the past several years, AMG has broadened its model lineup to include almost every class of Mercedes coupe, convertible, crossover and SUV. One notable exception is the SL range of roadsters. For 2020, you can only get the V6-powered SL 450 or the SL 550 with the twin-turbo 4.7-liter V8 of yesteryear.
It wasn’t always that way. For decades, we were spoiled with various AMG-modified SLs. None of them were more powerful and extreme than the SL65 AMG Black Series. Mercedes only produced 350 of them and sent 175 here to the states, one of which is up for grabs right now on Bring a Trailer.
Like the regular SL65, the Black Series has a twin-turbo V12. AMG reworked the 6.0-liter power plant, swapping out the turbos for 12-percent larger units, installing a more efficient intake intercooler and modifying the air intake and turbo wastegate passages. Those mods boost output to 661 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque. To ensure all of that firepower doesn’t vaporize the transmission on its way to the rear wheels, AMG beefed up the five-speed automatic.
AMG went bigger with the SL65 Black Series in other ways, too. Larger front intakes route more precious air to the 12-cylinder beast behind them. Racecar-like fender flares make it clear that this SL has broader shoulders and front and rear tracks than its less exotic cousins. Those arch over a set of forged wheels and tires that are staggered width and diameter from front (9.5″ X 19″ wheels, 265/35 rubber) to back (11.5″ X 20″ wheels, 325/30 tires).
Instead of the usual retractable hardtop, the SL65 Black Series has a fixed roof that increases rigidity and makes it more than 550 pounds lighter than a regular SL. Like other major body panels, including the front fenders, hood and trunk lid, it’s made out of lightweight carbon fiber. One thing that does move is the rear wing, which pops up around 74 mph to increase rear downforce.
The cockpit is an all-business combination of black and carbon fiber brightened by contrast stitching and occasional touches of brightwork. The 220-mph speedometer is a little optimistic because the SL65 Black Series’s top speed is 198 mph, but it’s another sign that this car puts the S and L in “special.”
That delivers its message subtly; the shift knob screams it out: “USA ONE OF 175.”
Five people have experienced the thrill of piloting this SL65 Black Series over the past 11 years. In all that time, they’ve put 7,968 miles on the odometer. Its sale and service history includes stops in California, Texas, New York and Florida. One particular visit to the shop addressed issues with the gearbox and rear wing. Interestingly, this German juggernaut also spent time in Uruguay and Chile. Now it’s being sold by a dealer in Miami.
It’s been more than a decade since Mercedes offered the SL65 AMG Black Series. In six days, this particular specimen of the road rocket will disappear, too.
Photos: Bring a Trailer