It doesn't seem that long ago that 500 hp was the entry level for the top rank of supercars. McLaren's F1 changed that by upping the ante to 600 hp nearly two decades ago.
Today, the big number is 1,000. Since the Bugatti Veyron's 1,001-hp output made motoring headlines, a small handful of challengers in the form of the 9ff GT9 and Shelby SCC Ultimate Aero have poked their heads above the parapet. Now there's a new kid on the four-figure block, and it is wrapped in Mercedes-Benz AMG clothing.
It's not the first time we've met; our paths crossed at Nardo last October when its V12 bi-turbo motor produced a mere 816 hp, which took it to a 205-mph recorded v-max.
The handicap stopping it from going faster was that the Continental Sport Contact Vmax tires were not available in the correct size for the Black Series, so the car was under-geared by tires with a too-small rolling radius, and the motor revving past peak power. With the correct sized tires, it would have achieved 208 mph.
The other major problem for the Black Series is a substantially greater frontal area that produces far more drag than a normal SL. Since drag increases with the square of speed, you need substantially more power to push the car through the air at a slightly greater speed.
"Its coefficient of drag is 0.84, compared to 0.60 for the Brabus Rocket," explains MKB boss, Pano Avramidis. "It's an air brake on wheels. If you lift off at 200-plus mph, the car slows like it has hit a brick wall."
Thus, when the MKB SL65 P1000 recorded its impressive 219-mph run at the Papenburg test track recently, its output was dyno confirmed at a staggering 1,015 hp at 5700 rpm, with 959 lb-ft of torque from 3300 to 6000 rpm!
In the interim, the 9.5x19 and 11.5x20 MKB alloy wheels had been fitted with the latest 255/35 and 335/30 ultra-high-speed Michelin Pilot Sport 2 rubber, rated to 248 mph. These are the correct sizes for this car, and work optimally with the 10 percent taller rear axle ratio to achieve its impressive top speed.
The problem is that the Mercedes V12 is simply too powerful for the 7G-Tronic gearbox and so has to make do with the old five-speeder. Despite the massive power, the car feels like it could do with at least one more ratio to optimize performance and top speed.
However, even though the taller gearing blunts acceleration, the numbers are still impressive. Zero to 62 mph takes 3.6 seconds, 124 mph falls in 8.9, and 186 mph comes up in 21.5, with the quarter-mile marker passed in 11.1. With the normal rear axle ratio, the P1000 would be able to post even quicker times, but at the expense of top speed.
With the standard KW coilover suspension and AMG brakes under the big arches, the concentration of MKB technology is under the carbon-fiber bonnet. While the SL65 Black Series M275BS motor is specially built with sufficient headroom to handle its 670 hp output over a long service life, 1,015 hp is another matter altogether.
To ensure that the engine is as robust over time as the standard article, MKB paid a lot of attention to the details centered on keeping things cool. The first step was to strip the motor to its component parts and strengthen or replace the reciprocating parts that handle the most stress. The Mahle forged alloy pistons were retained, but balanced as a set. The steel billet crankshaft was also balanced, and the steel connecting rods balanced and shot-peened for extra strength.
The cylinder heads were polished, ported, and gas-flowed, and the combustion chambers equalized to ensure that the forces pushing down on each piston are as equal as possible. The compression ratio remains at 10.0:1. The camshafts were replaced with a pair of MKB's specially ground units with more overlap, accompanied by stronger valvesprings.