The original 'Red Pig' is long gone, but the memory isn't.
AMG has been responsible for some genuine automotive icons, but we'd argue that this is the biggest. The original 'Red Pig' was a Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL with a 6.3-liter engine built for an AMG customer before AMG was integrated into Mercedes-Benz. Long before the Mercedes-AMG GT, the tuning house was still making a reputation for itself by modifying Mercedes cars, and the Red Pig was its first big building block. A customer wanted to take his Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL racing. The 300 SEL was already Germany's fastest production car, but AMG grabbed it by the scruff of the neck and built something savage for the start of the 1970s.
This reproduction is going up for auction through RM Sotheby's, and it's remarkably faithful to the original. It's built from an "accident-free" 1969 model year Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.3 by Mercedes-Benz specialists from Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors in Böblingen, Germany.
When AMG first got hold of its customer's 300 SEL, the company started by boring the engine out to 6.8 liters and upping the output to 420 horsepower. Then, the builders went to town by widening the track of the car and fitting flared arches to accommodate the huge ring of racing rubber, then swapped the doors for aluminum units. Its first outing was at the Spa 24 Hours where it was laughed at in the paddock.
The laughter did not last long into the race, though. Piloted by Clemens Schickentanz and Hans Heyer through the night, the 'Red Pig' of a car kept pace with the front runners and went on to beat everything in its class. With its absurd power and grip, it also took second place overall. Its reputation then proceeded it everywhere it went, and AMG got the recognition it deserved. The tuning house was soon officially recognized by Mercedes-Benz, who then sold AMG products before taking a controlling interest in 1999 and then taking ownership of the company outright in 2005.
The story of the original 'Red Pig' was a sad one though and explains why replicas like this one exist and are so highly valued. Once its racing career was over, it was one of the fastest cars in the world and was sold to an aircraft company. That company used the legendary racing 300 SEL to test landing gear by dropping it through holes cut in the floorplan at speed. It wasn't long before the abuse led to the car being wrecked and destroyed.
This gem of a recreation was purchased by a South Korean business owner called James Goo Kim and has less than 500 miles on the clock. It'll go up for auction on February 5 in Paris.