Every two years, German's biggest tuning magazine, Auto Bild Sportcars, and Continental Tire get together to hold a top-speed shootout for the German tuners at Nardo.
The 2007 event was taken by MTM's twin-engine TT Bimoto, with a stunning 242.7 mph. The second fastest petrol-powered car was Sportec's SPR1, which recorded 235.1 mph, and would have gone even faster if not for the failure of a small oil pipe.
While this event has traditionally witnessed big v-max numbers from some radically modified cars, a couple tuners have been using fuels other than gasoline or diesel. In 2007, the E85 bio-ethanol-fueled 9ff Cayman CT-78 that finished fifth overall with 208.9 mph also established a new speed record for alternative fuel cars.
This year, the 650-hp Audi A4 Quattro-based, methane gas-powered Hohenester HS650G moved alternative fuels up to an impressive second place on the podium. Looking for all intents and purposes like a near-stock Audi A4 on lowered suspension and larger wheels, it blitzed most of the supercharged and turbocharged petrol-powered supercars on its way to a 218.5 mph alternative-fuel speed record at Nardo.
In fact, the Hohenester car had previously been clocked at 226.6 mph at the Papenburg test track in Northern Germany, and could have gone even faster at Nardo. Unfortunately, the quality of methane available in Italy is not as high as in Germany, and its lower calorific value restricted its bi-turbo V6 engine's output.
Despite being built for speed, unlike the normal-looking Audi, the third-placed Edo Competition Lamborghini Gallardo LP600-4 was some way adrift, stopping the clocks at just 211.1 mph.
The winner by a country mile was 9ff's 850-hp 997 Turbo-based TR1000. Not far off stock in appearance, the black Turbo looked fairly unspectacular as it whizzed around the banking, but its 233.5 mph v-max set the bar for the day.
Once upon a time, a tuned Mercedes was just a more interesting version of a well-built but rather boring car. A glance at the latest Nardo lineup shows just how far Mercedes has come in recent years. The most "normal" car there was the 500-hp Lorinser LV8; the most spectacular looking, the 816-hp MKB SL65/12 TT; and the most heavily modified, the Brabus GLK V12.
With 750 hp and a more modest 4,365-pound curb weight, it was expected that the GLK V12 would easily walk away with the SUV category over the bigger and heavier (5,600-pound) and less powerful (680-hp) Cayenne Turbo-based TechArt Magnum.
Imagine the shock and horror when the GLK V12 ran to 196.6 mph, and then the Magnum turned in a 199-mph maximum. Something wasn't right. A light drizzle was playing havoc with some of the runs. It soon turned into rain and everyone ran for cover.
The sun soon returned, and as the track dried out it was decided that the cars affected by the weather would be allowed to make a second run. This time, the GLK V12 turned in a 200.3 mph v-max, and honor was restored.
It was still a close run thing, and shows that the larger Cayenne is actually more aerodynamic than the square-cut GLK. Drag increases with the square of speed, so as you go faster, you need disproportionately more power for the same speed increment.
This problem also applied to one of the most purposeful-looking cars at Nardo, MKB's take on the SL65 AMG Black Series. Looking really cool in both senses of the word, in metallic white rather than the more commonplace black or gray, this car adopted the same mantra as the Brabus GLK, using smaller-than-normal rear wheels to minimize drag.
Built for handling and grip rather than ultimate top speed, the 140mm-wider bodywork and big spoilers boosted frontal area to 2.14 square meters, playing havoc with the drag coefficient, which goes up from around 0.30 to 0.39.