2010 Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series

With this much power on tap, however, it's very easy to get the rear end loose. Under full throttle, the insane power can turn the SL's Dunlops into dust on dry pavement, even at speeds approaching the triple-digit mark. And it's not for a lack of size - the rear tires are enormous at 325/30 ZR-20. (Up front, the SL Black Series wears nineteen-inch wheels, wrapped in tires measuring 265/35 ZR-19. The larger rear wheels and tires were chosen for extra stability under power.) And even when the SL's tires are able to put down the full power, the rear end walks left to right in a sinusoidal oscillation - one AMG engineer explained the phenomenon as a result of a resonant interference between the axles and limited-slip differential - we prefer to think of it as the result of the earth's crust being torn open.

Mercedes predicts that the SL65 AMG Black Series will accelerate to 62 mph in 3.8 seconds - but with traction a limiting factor even at 60 mph, that figure does little to convey the true thrust you feel from behind the wheel. Perhaps it'll help to note that the SL has to be electronically restrained to 199 mph.

At that point, AMG engineers admit, the SL is nearing its top speed anyway. The enormous fenders and aggressive aerodynamics create more drag than the standard SL - which would be able to achieve around 220 mph with this engine.

According to AMG boss Volker Mornhinweg, Black Series stands for lighter, faster, and more powerful. We've learned about faster and more powerful, but the SL Black is also significantly lighter than the regular SL65. AMG was able to shave 210 pounds from the car. Unlike all other SLs, which are convertibles, the Black Series wears a fixed carbon-fiber roof with integral roll bars and a pop-up rear spoiler. Additionally, the hood, front fenders, and front and rear valances are made of carbon fiber - the only standard SL body parts are the doors and side mirrors. (European-specification SL Black Series realize an additional 340 lb weight loss by deleting the side airbags, replacing the door panels with carbon fiber, and using one-piece racing buckets in place of the U.S.-spec car's electrically adjustable sport seats.)

Additional weight savings comes from the elimination of the standard SL's electronic braking system and Active Body Control. Instead, the Black Series uses conventional hydraulics to actuate enormous calipers and rotors: 15.4-inch cross-drilled rotors in the front, straddled by six-piston aluminum calipers; 14.2-inch cross-drilled rotors in the rear, each with four-piston calipers. The SL's active suspension system has been replaced with much lighter, simpler coilover-type suspension with conventional steel springs. Surprisingly, eliminating ABC doesn't strip the SL of its fabulous body control, as the Black Series demonstrates almost no body roll or pitch.

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