Hero Wor­ship

We bet you’ve never heard of this V12 tyre-fryer

Motor (Australia) - - CONTENTS - By TRENT GIUNCO

THROUGH­OUT AMG’s half cen­tury there has been myr­iad prod­ucts fet­tled by the fa­mous tuner from Af­fal­ter­bach – and not all of them wore a Mercedes-Benz badge. We could have cho­sen the likes of the Red Pig, 190E 3.2 and the Ham­mer (see right), how­ever, the ob­scure R129 SL73 AMG de­serves its time in the lime­light – and for good rea­son.

The rare drop-top is pow­ered by a 7.3-litre V12 – the same atmo M120 unit used in the Pa­gani Zonda F. To this day it is the largest en­gine fit­ted to a Benz pro­duc­tion model.

In­for­ma­tion on the spe­cialorder-only SL73 (it didn’t ap­pear on MB price lists) is as scarce as the pro­duc­tion run was lim­ited, with only 85 cars be­ing built – which were all con­verted SL600s to AMGspec. It was left-hand drive only and out­ra­geously ex­pen­sive.

The SL73 ran with the the­ory that there’s no re­place­ment for dis­place­ment – hence the large cu­bic ca­pac­ity was tasked with over­com­ing the 1975kg kerb weight. And didn’t it ever. With 386kW and a stonk­ing 750Nm

(huge num­bers for ’99), the 7.3-litre unit had no trou­ble haul­ing the

AMG to triple dig­its in 4.8sec via a five-speed au­to­matic. It’s claimed fuel con­sump­tion is 15.9L/100km. Which is not even a bit re­al­is­tic.

Given the mass at play the han­dling was de­scribed as ‘im­pre­cise’, but with the V12 up front, it was per­fect for au­to­bahn cruis­ing at 300km/h. Thank­fully, heav­ily re­vised brakes were added.

Be­ing based on a short­ened W124 (E-Class) chas­sis meant the SL also gained elec­tron­i­cally con­trolled damp­ing (ADS – adap­tive damp­ing – was op­tional), aid­ing ride qual­ity. ADS, and the au­to­matic roll bar, which de­ployed within 0.3sec, were pro­duc­tion firsts.

Two other V12s were of­fered in the R129’s life­span, how­ever, the big-bore 7.3-litre SL73 AMG is the ul­tra-rare col­lec­tor and de­serv­ing of its place within AMG folk­lore.

And in its own way, be­cause of the iconic atmo M120 twelve, be­came part of su­per­car his­tory.

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