GI did the painting and install services, utilizing their double-downdraft paint booth. The folks at Street Concepts powdercoated the calipers in a matching red and provided a subtle smoke hue to the taillights. Chances are the SLS will return to Street Concepts for a full custom interior, an area in which they excel.
Finished just a day before our rendezvous, owner Dahan admitted the car was intimidating. Perhaps that is why he invited his friend, UFC champion Anderson Silva to, you know, beat it into submission.
“That car sounds like a monster,” says Silva. “Let James drive it.”
Although driving for high-speed photography is an acquired skill, Silva was quick to learn. Cutting through multiple switchbacks and long sweepers, Silva did a fine job, managing to stay mere inches from the lead vehicle and maintain perfect spacing. I can only guess his intensive twice-per-day training regime and superior twitch reflexes were partly to blame.
“Normally I’ve got to yell and scream to get guys to do this kind of thing,” says ec editor Les Bidrawn. “While I expect a seasoned test driver like Hickerson to perform, most guys don’t understand what I call ‘Hollywood-style’ driving, which is something like automotive Kabuki theater. Everything needs to be overemphasized and larger than life in front of the camera. Speed needs to be higher and turns need to be sharper.
“It was pretty weird that Anderson kept up. He was following my eye movements, placing the car where I wanted it almost telepathically. Through this canyon and at these speeds that is a rare occurrence. Plus, Hickerson tells me he knocks guys out for a living. I don’t want to yell at anyone who does that.”
Silva and Dahan were celebrating the wrap of a biographical film of the fighter’s career, a film Dahan helped produce. Born on the rough streets of Curitiba, Brazil, Silva was abandoned by his poverty-stricken mother at four years old. A caring aunt stepped in to raise him; he found the martial arts and fought his way to fame. It’s a familiar storyline but that’s how it is.
“Anderson is a very talented and dedicated fighter,” says Dahan. “His story is inspirational. I wanted to ensure it got told.”
In any case, the film should be out by the time this magazine hits the stands.
Bidrawn clicked away into the early evening, totally oblivious to anything but the Mercedes in front of him. What do you expect from a car geek? We found both Anderson Silva and the equally famous Jerome Dahan to be completely unpretentious and down to earth (quite a rarity in Southern California). The cars, however, were elitist snobs.
We can live with that.
2011 Brabus Mercedes SLS
Longitudinal front engine, rear-wheel drive
6.2-liter V8, dohc, 32-valve. Dry-sump engine lubrication w/ external oil reservoir, Brabus titanium exhaust w/ sound adjustment, GI Motorsport ECU
Seven-speed AMG Speedshift automated manual
Double wishbone front, multilink rear, Brabus magnetorheological dampers
Brembo 15.3-inch rotors, six-piston calipers (f); 14.1-inch rotors, four-piston calipers (r); ABS
Wheels and Tires
Brabus Platinum Edition Monoblock, 9.5x20 (f), 11x21 (r), Pirelli P Zero Nero 275/30 (f), 295/25 (r)
Peak Power: 603 hp @ 6800 rpm
Peak Torque: 499 lb-ft @ 4750 rpm
Top speed: 215 mph