Sports cars are back — with a vengeance
Mercedes-Benz SL65 AMG
Mercedes doesn't expect to sell many SL65 AMGs, nor will they be that much faster than the V8-powered SL63 AMG that debuted in Geneva. That makes the production of this new twin-turbo 6.0-liter V12-powered roadster all the more awesome. It is the rarest of rare SL roadsters for the most avid AMG enthusiasts. Output is an astounding 621 horses and 738 lb-ft of torque. It sprints to 60 mph in 3.9 seconds. Tweaking the turbochargers, cylinder heads, engine mapping and ignition coils not only helped boost output by 17 horsepower over the previous V12, but also helped reduce emissions and fuel consumption. A 7-speed transmission with new fuel-saving technology and a reduction of 254 pounds to the overall weight of the car further aid efficiency. This is the first AMG model to get a new twin-blade front grille, which will make its way to future models. The SL65 AMG will go on sale this fall. The version shown in New York is a special anniversary edition, of which only 45 will be sold worldwide.
The latest creation of Shelby American Inc., a Las Vegas-based company owned by the legendary Carroll Shelby himself, is the Shelby 1000. It is based on the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500. Only 100 will be built, including a street version with about 950 horsepower and a track version, called the Shelby 1000 S/C, with more than 1,000 horses. Getting that much power isn't cheap: First you need a $54,200 Mustang Shelby GT500. Then you need to pay Shelby American $149,995 to create the street version of the Shelby 1000, or $154,995 to create the track version. The entire engine and drivetrain is reworked, literally down to the nuts and bolts, which are beefed up to withstand the monstrous power. The car's suspension and other chassis components are also upgraded. It's the most potent muscle car in history that bears the Shelby name.
The sense of anticipation in the crowd before the unveiling of the new Viper was overwhelming. They raptly listened as SRT Chief Executive Ralph Gilles spoke of its various improvements in both performance and quality. "I don't even know where to start," he said at the beginning of his presentation. "It's like being pregnant for almost 24 months." After his spiel, he drove the new Viper out on stage, got out and kissed the front fender amid cheers, applause and whoops from the audience.
The new Viper is even more badass than before. Its 8.4-liter V10 engine puts out 640 horsepower and 600 lb-ft of torque. The body structure of high-strength steel is 50 percent stiffer and 28 pounds lighter than before. The exterior body is 32 percent lighter, thanks to a carbon-fiber hood, roof and rear decklid, and aluminum doors and sills. The interior is a huge step up; the seats are the same as those in a Ferrari. A racing version also debuted, driving out on stage with a deafening roar and filling the expansive room with exhaust. It will compete in the American LeMans series.
Matthew de Paula wanted to be an automotive journalist ever since reading his first car magazine in grade school. After a brief stint writing about finance, he helped launch ForbesAutos.com and became the site's editor in 2006. Matthew now freelances for various outlets.