Evolution Of Mercedes-AMG Black Series

Car Culture / Comments

The fastest Black Series yet is on its way, so let's look at how we got here.

In the early 1960s, Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher worked for Mercedes-Benz and part of the 300 SE racing engine development program when Mercedes pulled out of motorsport. The pair weren't done, though, so Aufrecht and Melcher spent their spare time at a house in Grossaspach refining and honing the engine. Manfred Schiek used the engine for the German Touring Car Championship through 1965 and, 10 victories later, the success story was underway. In 1999, the company, now known as Daimler AG, bought a majority interest in AMG and became the sole owner in 2005. In 2006, AMG Performance Studio rolled out a hardcore and track-ready version of the SLK, and the 'Black Series' moniker was born. So that's where we'll start.

Mercedes-Benz SLK AMG 55 Black Series

When the cloth was pulled off of the SLK55 AMG Black Series in 2006, Mercedes unleashed a monster. It was built for purists and ready to hit the track with its naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V8 amped up from 360 to 400 horsepower. It rode in on manually adjustable suspension and 19-inch forged wheels wrapped in performance tires from Pirelli. The chassis was stiffened, the brakes upgraded, and the electronic stability control was turned accordingly. The fenders were widened for the wider tires, and the retractable hardtop was thrown out in favor of a permanent carbon-fiber roof. It hit 0-60 mph in just 4.7 seconds, and the car topped out at 174 mph. Only around 120 were made at around $140,000 each, although Mercedes didn't cap production.

Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG
8 Things To Know About Corvette C8 Z06
8 Things To Know About Corvette C8 Z06
Best BMW Cars That Didn't Need An M Badge
Best BMW Cars That Didn't Need An M Badge

Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series

AMG's change of focus from forced induction six-cylinder engines to naturally aspirated eight-cylinder engines gave the world the legendary M156 6.2-liter V8. It appeared in the CLK 63 AMG production car and made around 470 hp. However, in the Black Series, it made 500 hp with 465 lb-ft of torque. At just 2,000 rpm, 370 of those torques were available and, if you could keep the tires in check, 60 mph came up in just over 4 seconds. All new suspension gave adjustable rebound and compression damping and ride-height adjustable springs. The chassis was strengthened, the brakes upgraded, the rear seats were thrown out, and the fenders were stretched enough to leave no doubt that you're looking at a Black Series.

Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG

Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG Black Series

The 2008 Mercedes-Benz SL could be optioned with a bruiser of bi-turbo V12, making 490 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque. In the SL65 Black Series, AMG force-fed the V12 extra air through larger turbos and managed to get 661 horsepower and 738 lb-ft of torque down to the rear tires via the AMG Speedshift Plus five-speed automatic transmission. The SL65 AMG Black Series hit 0-60 mph in 3.8 seconds and topped out at a limited 199 mph. The standard chassis, suspension, and brake upgrades were delivered, but HWA Engineering took care of the bodywork. The only body parts not replaced with carbon-fiber parts are the doors and side mirrors. The fenders were enlarged to take massive Dunlop Sport Maxx GT tires, and the final effect was designed to remind onlookers of a DTM car.

Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG

Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series

For the 2011 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupe Black Series, AMG used a new iteration of the M156 6.2-liter V8 engine. Bored out to 6.3 liters, it makes 510 hp and 457 lb-ft of torque through a seven-speed automatic transmission, which propels it to 62 mph in 4.2 seconds. For grip and handling, it gained a wider track with a redesigned front axle, adjustable suspension. Mercedes took the unusual decision to offer a Track Package and an Aerodynamics Package on top. It was an instant success, and Mercedes revised its 600 unit production limit to 800.

Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series

The last Black Series before the one we are waiting for arrived in 2012 and is also our favorite. The SLS is one of Mercedes icons, and as an AMG Black Series model, it's simply sensational. The 6.3-liter V8 engine puts down 622 horsepower and 468 lb-ft of torque via a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic and hits 62 mph in a breathtaking 3.6 seconds. The redline was raised from 7,200 to 8,000 rpm, and the titanium exhaust provides a soundtrack for the ages. An optional Aero Package added an adjustable carbon-fiber wing, which just adds to the cultured aggression of the SLS AMG Black Series.

The AMG Ride Control suspension was tuned to be tauter, and electronically controlled AMG rear-axle differential lock replaced the mechanical diff with a variable one and shortened the drive ratio. Big, sticky tires were wrapped around AMG light-alloy wheels. Despite all the extra tech, the SLS AMG Black Series still weighed in at 3,417 lbs.

Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG

AMG GT Black Series

Revealed in the summer of 2020, the AMG GT Black Series is a show stopper. AMG's 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 is cranked all the way up to 720 hp and 590 lb-ft of torque, which is 143 hp more than the AMG GT R. The engine has been changed extensively enough to get a new internal code designation. Among other things, a new firing order for the cylinders is needed for new camshafts and exhaust manifolds, while the twin-scroll exhaust turbochargers are mounted to new friction bearings. The new engine and a tightening up of the seven-speed transaxle give the AMG GT Black Series a 0-60 mph time of 3.1 seconds, but the headline is the 0-124 mph time of just nine seconds.

Almost every part of the AMG GT has been given new aerodynamic elements, and if something can be made using carbon fiber, then it has been. The adaptive suspension has three modes, and the Goodyear Pilot Sport Cup 2 R MO tires were developed especially for the car. The differential has nine different levels of programmable slip, and the rear wing is also adjustable.

Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG
Daimler AG

Join The Discussion