Autobahn Designs has recently expanded into high-end German performance and styling, continuing a bold progression upmarket.

The company, which began tuning Volkswagens and more recently Audis and MINIs, has brought the prestige of Mercedes-Benz to the franchise. Its latest work includes this svelte Mercedes-Benz S500.

A statesman in automobile design, the distinguished, third-generation S balances luxury with sporting performance and sophisticated styling. Taking its character and trying to make it better, or at least different without compromising it, is difficult. Rather than try and re-invent something better, the team at Autobahn Designs decided to simply build upon what was already in place. "Our aim is to enhance the overall driving experience," said Autobahn Designs' president Dave Anderson. "Why try and re-invent the wheel when it may already be in motion? We just try to perfect it and help speed it along."

From a standpoint of style and individuality, their work has paid off richly with a more refined package. Dressed in altered exterior panels, the car is equipped with factory AMG styling components, including S55 front and rear bumpers and side skirts.

The rear apron, which features half-moon exhaust cutouts, nicely accommodates Autobahn Designs' own twin muffler package. Complete with stainless steel tips, the system is designed to work efficiently with the car's 5.0-liter (4966cc), 24-valve V8.

Further accentuating the exterior is a set of sporty O.Z. Opera wheels measuring 8.5x20 in. up front and 9.5x20-in. at the rear. Michelin Pilot Sport tires provide a decidedly, and desirably, wider contact patch, running 255/35-20 front and 285/30-20 rear.

In order to adequately close the gap between the fenders and the lower profile tires, Autobahn Designs modified the stock vehicle ride height by using the company's Adjustable Sport Lowering Package. This set-up, which works in conjunction with the computer-controlled factory Airmatic suspension, lowers the vehicle by roughly 1 in., leading to better handling without compromising ride quality.

And with 0-to-60-mph performance rated at 6.1 sec., it comes within a mere 0.04 sec. short of the 355-bhp factory-equipped S55.

As stated, the S500 is already a wonderfully engineered piece of machinery in stock trim or otherwise.

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