The SLS AMG is NOT Based on a Defunct Viper Project...

..."I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who."

Rudyard Kipling

About a week ago, a rumor started by Edmund's Inside Line spread out all over the internet like an erratic fungus on crack. So many so-called automotive journalists/bloggers jumped on the bandwagon and covered this story as if it was undeniably true, without so much as a single editor to verify the facts. In short, Inside Line claims to have found out that the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is actually based on a burried next-generation project for the Dodge Viper. Apparently, the project had been stolen by Daimler before the "de-merger".

Obviously, everyone assumed that since this information is coming from Edmund's itself - which is one of the most trusted auto-related publications on the internet – then they don't need to dig any further. It's like a higher power had given them all the facts and they weren't supposed to question any of it.

Apparently, this is how online automotive journalism works these days. If the original source for an article comes from a powerful entity like American Edmund's, Motor Trend, Car&Driver or European Autocar, Auto Express or even Auto, Motor&Sport, then the website/blog covering the story is exempted from adhering to regular journalism rules.

In other words, you can base entire so-called pieces of news on big fat lies and nobody will suspect anything. The added dose of credibility coming from heavy names is too much for anyone to question the truthfulness of the facts being stated.

The same thing happened with the aforementioned story from Edmund's Inside Line. Nobody even bothered to check an official source, or at least one which doesn't resemble a totally made-up piece of news. We try very hard not to be like that here at autoevolution, even though we're also far from being completely innocent in this matter.

So it happens I took the liberty of doing a small investigation into the matter, and the conclusion I arrived to was rather opposite to what some of you would probably expect. After having a small chat with each party involved in the rumor (Daimler AG and Chrysler, subsequently) I found out the following. First of all, it is true, the SLS AMG isn't a true Mercedes-Benz.

That is because it's an AMG, not a Dodge/Chrysler. The car was developed from scratch by AMG with the help of HWA, which some of you may know from the German DTM racing championship, while other hardcore fans might remember that HWA comes from Hans Werner Aufrecht. Yes, the "Aufrecht" in Aufrecht Melcher Grossaspach. It is their first ever semi-independent car project, and apparently Mercedes-Benz as an entity was even less involved with it than it had been with the SLR McLaren.

Second of all, common sense would tell any wannabe car journo that the Dodge Viper is a rather cheap supercar, if it can even be called that, for to the amount of performance it provides. The 271 kilograms (597 pounds) aluminium space frame body of the SLS AMG has manufacturing and research costs about three times those of the steel body/chassis of a regular Viper. Also, the double clutch transaxle setup of the transmission in the modern Flügeltüren doesn't come very cheap either, compared to a torque-resistant six-speed manual in a Viper.

How on Earth would someone go from a "shed-built" super sports car with a V10 that originally came from a truck and then build its next generation using space age technology? Oh, and keeping its more than reasonable price, I should add, because I don't think there are that many clients for a $250,000 Dodge, no matter how technologically-advanced it is.

In the end, all I want to do is congratulate all the automotive e-zines who didn't cover the aforementioned "The Krauts stole our Viper! Those basterds!" story. Apart from being unfounded and simply based on a hunch which probably arose from those early SLS with Viper body parts spy-shots, the rumor is also a bit stupid. Last, but not least, I really do hope that in the future, small automotive websites and blogs will actually begin to rival the real professionals, who so far are still working in print media only. There are more journalistic rules than just the "five Ws"...
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About the author: Alex Oagana
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Alex handled his first real steering wheel at the age of five (on a field) and started practicing "Scandinavian Flicks" at 14 (on non-public gravel roads). Following his time at the University of Journalism, he landed his first real job at the local franchise of Top Gear magazine a few years before Mircea (Panait). Not long after, Alex entered the New Media realm with the project.
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