Mercedes’ SLS AMG is a classy, elegant supercar. A simultaneous nod to the 300 SL gullwing’s past and a thrusting burst into the future. It is a halo car that embodies the Mercedes-Benz ethos. This one isn’t, though. Not anymore. This one would make Daimler’s top brass cry. Because this is the car that Kourosh Mansory built, an SLS that has been dragged kicking and screaming through the looking glass into an alternate, evil world.
The Mansory Cormeum is a 660-hp monster, and although it’s named after an operatic score, it looks like the Batmobile after a week-long meth bender. But the more I look, the more I like it. Then I drive it, and like turns to love. This car is an absolute animal, and the truly crazy thing is there’s a twin-supercharged, 800-hp version on the way.
For those laughing at Mr. Mansory, and you’re out there, he’s laughing harder than you. His customers include Middle Eastern royalty, Hollywood stars and Russian gazillionaires. He has more than $10 million of metal in his workshop at any one time, and his operation is about to branch out into fashion with a flagship store in Moscow. A recent tie-up with Lotus means he’s broken into the mainstream motoring world, and he supplies carbon fiber to a number of big manufacturers.
These wild-eyed tuner cars are more than an oddball passion; they are his shop window and his chance to show off his prowess with the black art of carbon engineering. Every car is a business card for the motor trade and even Bugatti, which was less than amused with his rendering of the Veyron, relented when they looked up close.
As for the sales, there’s a small, moneyed sector of society that just cannot get enough of these crazed creations. They won’t be able to anyway—Mansory will only sell 15 to keep them exclusive.
The SLS is a pure wonder to look at, too, part GT racer, part Batmobile, it has a nose that somehow manages to blend the SLS, SLR and even Ferrari Enzo. The front end is a massive 2.6 inches wider than the stock car, and 3.3 inches wider at the rear, so rest assured more or less everything in between is new.
The sculpted hood comes with carved-in slats behind those Ferrari 599-esque lights and the box-section sides pay homage to some serious sports cars. The rear wing and diffuser are pure racing car, and the naked carbon with metallic strands woven through are a love-or-hate thing, but whatever your opinion you have to admit it’s spectacular and perfectly finished.
There’s more on the inside, lots more, and though much of it is simply a cover, and therefore not a weight saver, it certainly makes an impression and fits the Mansory mold to perfection. It’s ostentatious, ridiculous even, but the work is perfect and customers are queuing around the block.
In the dash is an LCD screen, too, which apparently comes in handy for track use and monitors g-forces, speed, lap times, everything. There’s a new steering wheel dressed in yeah-you-guessed-it, and a shifter knob too, although that’s a rather generous term for the tiny stub in the center console. It does look light, though.
Mansory provides interiors to many other tuners, and his work is absolutely as good as it gets. But it’s time to forget the visual impact, at least until cars coming the other way almost crash off the road getting a second look, because it’s time to fire up the beast.