2007 Mercedes-AMG CLK63 AMG Black Series First Drive
As close as you’ll ever get to driving a pace car
Mercedes-AMG CLK63 Black Series – 2007 First Drive: The driver of the black Camry just wouldn’t make up her mind.
We were in Hollywood on Santa Monica Blvd., and I was behind a late model black Camry that couldn’t decide to go straight or make a left turn. I, meanwhile, was behind the wheel of a 500-horsepower beast: the 2007 Mercedes-AMG CLK63 AMG Black Series. It is not a car to be trifled with.
A quick over-the-shoulder told me I had a clear shot, and I took it. A couple quick taps of the downshift paddle and the Black was in first gear; I uncorked the throttle, and the traction control scrabbled to put power down on the broken and torn pavement (I swear, it was like that when I got there). The engine roared like only an angry V-8 can, and I rocketed by the indecisive Camry…and within 100 yards was in traffic again.
But man, those 100 yards rocked.
I re-caged the beast and cruised. This car looks like it just came off a racetrack (because it did), and there was no need to attract unwanted attention. Besides, we were headed to Willow Springs, the self-proclaimed Fastest Road in the West, and there’d be plenty of time to let the Black strut its stuff out there.
You know those special “pace car” editions of whatever celebrity-driven vehicle leads the 33-car field during the final T-minus laps of the Indianapolis 500? It’s usually a Corvette of some sort, with a big “Official Pace Car” sticker on the side, some extra dollars on the sticker…and little else.
The CLK63 AMG Black Series is not one of those vehicles.
If you ever wanted to feel like you were leading the Formula 1 field, and if you have a bag filled with $135,000 that you keep tripping over, this is the car. Essentially a street-legal version of the official F1 safety car, the Black Series is quite possibly the sportiest, highest-performing, least luxurious and most demanding road car that AMG has ever built. With a 500-horsepower V-8 engine, 0-60 times in the low 4-second range, carbon fiber body work and a 186-mph limiter-enforced top speed, this is no sticker special. Exactly why it’s called the Black Series is anybody’s guess…black is sinister, maybe? Yet there’s no questioning that the CLK63 AMG Black Series will rock your world. At least, until the unstoppable force of the 6.3-liter V-8 meets the immovable object of the stability control…more on that later.
The CLK63 AMG is also part of AMG’s 40th anniversary celebration. The company was founded in July of 1967 by Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, the “A” and “M” in the name; the “G” is for Großaspach, Aufrecht’s birthplace.
The company first achieved acclaim in 1971 with the 300 SEL 6.8 AMG, which won its class in the 24-hour race in Spa, Belgium, and came in second overall. The 300 SEL was the big Benz sedan of the time, and turning one into a race car – one that could take virtually all comers no less – was akin to Buick winning the Indy 500 with a hopped-up Roadmaster.
While a known quantity in Europe, AMG didn’t get its American debut – beyond a few gray market cars – until the 1986 car affectionately called The Hammer. Officially a Mercedes 300 E 5.6 AMG, The Hammer’s nickname came from its hard-pounding performance: 360 horsepower, 376 lb.-ft. of torque and a top speed over the 300 kph barrier (186 mph to you and me). All in a four-door sedan, 20 years ago, at a time when 0-60 in less than 10 seconds was considered respectable.
An official cooperation agreement brought Mercedes-Benz and AMG together in 1990, and three years later the Mercedes-Benz C 36 AMG was introduced as the first jointly developed project. It also came with a Mercedes-Benz warranty and was available in Mercedes-Benz dealerships nationwide. The relationship grew, and in 1999 Mercedes-Benz acquired a 51 percent controlling interest in AMG; in 2005 it absorbed the rest.
Today there is an AMG version of virtually every Mercedes-Benz bodystyle, including the M-Class crossover and R-Class don’t-call-it-a-minivan. In fact, there was already an AMG version of the CLK coupe in Europe, the CLK 63 AMG. It’s fun and fast, but suffers from looking way too much like the CLK upon which it’s based, in other words, a little bland.
Enter the CLK 63 AMG Black Series. The “Black Series” is a new designation inside AMG that denotes a very special model with an emphasis on maximum performance. With huge carbon fiber fender flares, an aggressive wheel and tire package and AMG’s crown jewel, the 6.3-liter V-8 engine under the hood, the CLK Black delivers on its promise.