Boats are pure whimsy. As much as I'm into cars, most of the time you drive it's because of the banal need to get somewhere. But if you're on a boat, chances are you're there just for the sake of the thing itself. It's like the difference between the house you live in and a fun summer rental -- you may love your house, but being there isn't the same as being on vacation.
If boats are inherently frivolous, then go-fast boats are the epitome of indulgence. Truly fast boats, like truly exotic cars, sacrifice luxury and versatility on the altar of performance. And Cigarette Racing Team is the brand that's come to define the genre. Cigarette is known for two things: winning races and concocting hilariously unsubtle ad campaigns. One print ad from the 1990s depicts a topless blonde in a postcoital embrace with a very satisfied-looking gentleman. The tagline reads, "Does this mean I get a ride in your Cigarette?" Porsche should be so honest.
Back in 2002, a Chicago businessman named Skip Braver bought Cigarette, which is based in Opa-Locka, Florida, just north of Miami. Braver is also a car guy, and he's tight with Mercedes-Benz -- his personal stable includes an SLS AMG, a CLK63 AMG Black Series, and a brand-new S63 AMG. He's one of the few people who have driven the SLS E-cell. So Braver and AMG got talking about collaborating, since their products appeal to a similar audience -- people with a penchant for speed and enough money to indulge it on a grand scale. Thus was born the "Inspired by AMG" boat, a 46-foot Cigarette Rider XP finished in a sinister white, black, and silver AMG palette. Mercedes, for its part, presented a matching SLS AMG. The two items make quite a handsome set. Like the SLS, the AMG boat packs a little something special under the hood. Until now, most high-power boat engines have been based on a supercharged General Motors big-block. This 46-foot Rider, however, features Mercury Racing's newest creation, a 1350-hp, twin-turbo, 9.0-liter DOHC V-8 (see page 10). Actually, it features two of them. Even in the demented world of go-fast boats, this is an insane amount of power. For instance, Mercury had to design new propellers, because the V-8's 1370 lb-ft of torque demonstrated an alarming ability to snap the blades off even the beefiest stainless-steel props.