Remembering Mercedes-AMG’s Epic Track-Oriented Black Series Models

For years, the performance variants of regular Mercs have received the AMG treatment. To differentiate the wildest among them from the rest of the pack, the German manufacturer introduced the Black Series and so far, six distinct models have been built.
Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series 30 photos
Photo: Daimler AG
Mercedes-Benz SLK AMG 55 Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SLK AMG 55 Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SLK AMG 55 Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SLK AMG 55 Black Series InteriorMercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series InteriorMercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series InteriorMercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series InteriorMercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupe Black SeriesMercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupe Black SeriesMercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupe Black SeriesMercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupe Black Series InteriorMercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupe Black Series InteriorMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black SeriesMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series InteriorMercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series InteriorMercedes-AMG GT Black SeriesMercedes-AMG GT Black SeriesMercedes-AMG GT Black SeriesMercedes-AMG GT Black Series InteriorMercedes-AMG GT Black Series Interior
In 1999, DaimlerChrysler AG purchased 51% of the AMG shares and six years later, it acquired the remaining stake from the owner and co-founder of the company, Hans Werner Aufrecht. This move led to a change of strategy for Mercedes-AMG and the creation of the Performance Studio.

Some of the carmaker’s brightest engineers were assigned to this Affalterbach workshop and received the task of creating a special high-performance version of the SLK AMG 55 that became the first Black Series model. Over the years, five other Mercedes-AMGs joined this exclusive club, so let’s take a trip down memory lane and remember these incredible machines.

Mercedes-Benz SLK 55 AMG Black Series

Mercedes\-Benz SLK AMG 55 Black Series
Photo: Daimler AG
Revealed in late 2006 and derived from the 2005-2006 Formula One safety car, it looked much like the regular SLK AMG 55, especially to the untrained eye, but from a technical standpoint, there was nothing ordinary about it.

The naturally aspirated 5.5-liter M113 V8 was mated to a 7G-TRONIC automatic that received a separate oil cooler. Engineers worked their magic on the powerplant and ramped up its output from 360 to 400 hp.

To improve rigidity, the chassis was strengthened, while a manually adjustable suspension and a fine-tuned ESP system guaranteed better stability at high speeds, especially through tight corners. Additionally, stopping power was improved with the use of larger brakes and Pirelli performance tires provided more grip.

The regular car’s retractable hardtop was replaced by a fixed carbon-fiber roof which helped shed 99 pounds (45 kg) and lower the overall center of gravity. Inside, motorsport-inspired black velour AMG bucket seats were added, a feature that would become a tradition for the Black Series.

Only 120 units were built from July 2006 to April 2007, making it the rarest model in the history of the series.

Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series

Mercedes\-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series
Photo: Daimler AG
Less than a year after the aforementioned model made its debut, the company unveiled the second member of the exclusive range. The recipient of the track-focused treatment was the C209 CLK, a car that was already transformed into the legendary CLK DTM AMG a few years earlier.

While the Performance Studio designers behaved when styling the SLK 55 Black Series, they made every effort to impress with the new model. Sure, it wasn’t as aggressive as the DTM AMG, but was distinctly beefed up when compared to the stock CLK 63. The interior also received extensive racecar-derived upgrades such as bucket seats and a redesigned steering wheel.

Mercedes-AMG had just introduced the first V8 fully designed and built in Affalterbach, and although it was already fitted under the hood of the standard CLK 63, it received an increase of power from 475 to 500 hp in the Black Series thanks in part to larger intakes.

Additional upgrades also included a stiffened chassis, manually adjustable suspension system, or a limited-slip differential.

These monsters were built between April 2007 and March 2008 and sold globally. Some sources cite 700 as the total number of units while others mention 500. Unfortunately, the manufacturer has never revealed the official sales figures for this model.

Mercedes-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series

Mercedes\-Benz SL 65 AMG Black Series
Photo: Daimler AG
For the creation of the third Black Series car, the project was handed down to Mercedes-AMG’s racing division HWA. The car selected for the job was an R230 SL 65 AMG.

It was launched at the 2008 Monterey Car Week, distinguishing itself from the plebeian SL 65 by receiving a host of visual upgrades including a widebody kit, a fixed roof, and a retractable spoiler, all made from lightweight carbon fiber.

Of course, the car wasn’t all about looks and its 6.0-liter V12 received larger turbos and intercoolers among other improvements, allowing it to make 661 hp. With all that raw power under the hood, the SL 65 AMG Black Series is still, to this day, one of the most powerful cars ever built by the German carmaker.

Weighing 551 pounds (250 kg) less than the standard model, it sprinted to 62 mph (100 kph) from a standstill in a supercar-worthy 3.8 seconds and was able to reach an electronically limited top speed of 199 mph (320 kph).

It stood on 265/35R-19 front and 325/30R-20 Dunlop Sport Maxx GT tires and its chassis was revamped with extreme performance in mind. It received upgraded suspension and braking systems, becoming a fearsome track weapon.

Extensively tested on the iconic Nürburgring-Nordschleife before the official launch, 350 Black Series SL 65 AMGs were built from September 2008 to August 2009.

Mercedes-Benz C 63 AMG Coupe Black Series

Mercedes\-Benz C 63 AMG Coupe Black Series
Photo: Daimler AG
Revealed in 2011 and based on the C 63 AMG Coupe, the fourth member of the Black Series range was fitted with another brilliant version of the M156 6.2-liter V8 that powered the CLK 63 Black Series in the past. With 510 hp on tap, it could accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (0-100 kph) in 4.2 seconds on route to a top speed of 186 mph (300 kph).

Like its Black Series siblings, it was equipped with an adjustable suspension, Dunlop tires, and a host of additional chassis modifications. Furthermore, an active rear-axle transmission cooling system was available with the AMG Track Package.

The exterior was widened using carbon fiber panels, resulting in a more aggressive appearance and made it obvious that this was no ordinary C 63. The optional AMG Aerodynamics package added even mode carbon fiber components, including a fixed rear spoiler with an adjustable blade.

Available in Europe at the start of 2012 and in the U.S. several months later, the 600 units initially planned were sold quickly so production was eventually increased to 800.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG Black Series

Mercedes\-Benz SLS AMG Black Series
Photo: Daimler AG
Arguably the most beautiful modern Mercedes, the SLS was the first car designed and built from the ground up by Mercedes-AMG. Naturally, it would become the perfect choice for the next Black Series model.

Unveiled at the 2012 LA Auto Show, it was inspired by the GT3 racer and although it didn’t receive any jaw-dropping visual upgrades, the extensive use of carbon fiber for the redesigned body panels made it 154-pounds (70 kg) lighter than the standard model.

The highlight of this car was the beefed-up M159 eight-cylinder, an M156 revamped to perfection that produced 622 hp, a 59 hp increase over the stock SLS AMG unit. The engine’s redline was raised from 7,200 to 8,000 rpm and coupled with the titanium exhaust, it sang a hair-raising tune.

To endure the rigors of extensive track use, the car sat on big and sticky Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires, the AMG Ride Control suspension was comprehensively tuned, and an electronically controlled rear-axle differential lock replaced the mechanical version. Moreover, an optional Aero Package added an adjustable carbon-fiber wing that improved its aerodynamics.

Built from 2012 to 2013 in about 350 units, it remains one of the most sought-after variants of the SLS AMG models, fetching over $400,000 on the rare occasions it goes under the hammer.

Mercedes-AMG GT Black Series

Mercedes\-AMG GT Black Series
Photo: Daimler AG
By now, every hardcore enthusiast has heard about this amazing machine, mainly because it holds the record for the fastest production car around the legendary Nürburgring-Nordschleife.

Mercedes-AMG took the wraps off its latest Black Series model last year, showcasing the most aggressive motorsport-inspired car it has ever built.

It features many aerodynamic elements derived from its GT3 sibling like the adjustable rear wing. It also comes with Pilot Sport Cup 2 R tires developed specifically by Michelin for this car, a revamped adaptive suspension system, and an overhauled interior.

Under its enormous hood, it hides the most powerful V8 ever assembled in Affalterbach, a 4.0-liter twin-turbo unit dubbed M178 LS2 which can spit out 720 hp. This means that the AMG GT Black Series can accelerate from 0 to 62 mph (0-100 kph) in 3.2 seconds, and to 125 mph (200 kph) in under 9 seconds, all while attaining a top speed of 202 mph (325 kph).

While all Mercedes-AMG vehicles are extremely good, the beastly Black Series models are part of a separate realm. Not only are they incredibly well-built high-performance variants, but also timeless pieces of automotive art.
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About the author: Vlad Radu
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Vlad's first car was custom coach built: an exotic he made out of wood, cardboard and a borrowed steering wheel at the age of five. Combining his previous experience in writing and car dealership years, his articles focus in depth on special cars of past and present times.
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