Money, like mold and rat infestations, tends to collect in localized points. It finds itself, which can be both good and bad. It means there's always a friendly face to share a bottle of Krug and some smoked salmon, but it can also mean driving down the high street in a Veyron, thinking you're the man, until you catch a glimpse of your friend's Bugatti in the rearview. It can happen, and it can send a rich man into fits. Mercedes tuner Carlsson might have the unlikely answer with its C25.
If the buyers materialize, Carlsson will make no more than 25 and just one will go to each country. That means there's almost no chance, nearly zero possibility, of running into another C25 coming the other way.
For something truly unique, a car that their neighbors simply cannot buy, this thin sliver of society will drop $550,000 (plus local taxes) as if it were pocket change. If it sounds ludicrous, just remember that boutique clothes manufacturers have been doing it for centuries. And that's just the start, as the options list is simply insane and includes a $60,000 Smart car in matching colors for city commuting. No, really, it does; keep going down the list and there's a $200,000 complete 24kt gold exterior, which might be a little much...
The German tuner has moved consistently toward the high-powered, stratospheric light of the super exclusive, limited production run creations in recent years. The Carlsson Aigner range tapped in to a new kind of buyer and convinced CEO Marcus Schuster that the time was right to press ahead with his next plan.
Now it stands before me at Hockenheim in all its glory, and it's hard not to just stand and stare. Carlsson has labeled its first official entry into the manufacturer world as a "Super GT" and it's a novel concept. Because under the skin is a heavily breathed-upon SL65 AMG that can be driven every day and serviced at any main dealer. But on the surface its a bonafide monster.
At the front there's the vaguest hint of SL, if you look close, but the sharp cuts, gaping vents, and vertical daytime running lights all combine to create a shape that could frighten a Ferrari from its path. The widebody front quarters taper neatly into the doors and flare out again into that magnificent rear end that owes more than a little to the Aston Martin DB9.
But even at the rear Carlsson has gone further with those vicious, squared off exhaust pipe exits that house another, squarer exhaust exit. It's a visual feast or an orgy of pure madness, whichever way you look at it, but there is no doubting the impact.
All of the bodywork is crafted in carbon fiber, which goes a long way toward justifying the cost. The new bodywork, together with a fixed roof instead of the folding metal peacock's tail that comes with the standard AMG, saves more than 220 pounds high up in the frame.
It's still 4,300 pounds, but that's a big saving over the base car. Combined with Carlsson's raciest suspension yet, it transforms the handling of the standard SL. It isn't quite in Black Series territory-the C25 is more subtle than that-but the C25 was always intended to be a balancing act rather than an out-and-out racer. Pitching the car into direct competition with the cheaper Black Series makes little sense anyway. Carlsson couldn't win a war with its own base manufacturer and the company has a history of refined, elegant cars to live up to.
Carlsson's C-Tronic suspension system is hunkered down low to the exclusive 9.5x20 front and 12x20 rear wheels that are also 40 percent lighter than standard AMG wheels, as we sweep onto the Hockenheim race track and the car, even in this its first real test drive, offers no pitch or roll. On rougher tracks, though, the kind that we drive on every day, the C-Tronic suspension system can raise the ride height up to 30mm and squash the harshest bumps and ruts in the road. And combined with 405mm front and 380mm rear brake discs from Brembo, together with uprated calipers, this slightly softer setup works wonders on track and the street.