Having seen, driven, and owned almost every exotic car out there makes it difficult to get excited about any new car that we acquire at Secret Entourage and Exotic Car Hacks. However, things changed recently when we got the opportunity to get our latest project, which we later chose to call “Unicorn” due to its very rare nature and the fact that it was white (which is also extremely rare). This unicorn is the limited production Mercedes Benz SL65 AMG Black Series, a car that was released in 2009 as a one-time production run of 175 units of which only 18 were made in white, and the only one Designo white on white. It had been awhile since we were this excited about an exotic car arriving on the delivery truck.
The Design: Probably the single most iconic aspect of this car is its extreme design that separates it from the rest of the AMG line up or even any Mercedes out there including the infamous SLS. Mercedes made four Black Series cars: the C, CLK, SL, and SLS; all of which are beautiful but none as dramatic as the SL65 with its incredibly large fenders, aggressive front and rear bumpers, and of course the beautiful hood.
However, Mercedes also did something that seemed counter productive to all those looking from the outside in — they removed the convertible aspect of the SL for this rare production car, meaning that this is the only SL that cannot put its top down. While the body work is very aggressive, it is also accented by dry carbon fiber which exposes many elements of carbon fiber throughout the body itself. The underside of the hood and trunk are a beautiful matte carbon, and even the interior aspect of the fuel cap is also exposed carbon.
Then there are the massive 20” wheels wrapped in 325/30 Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tires that give the car a very mean stance and complements the retractable wing on the rear of the car. All of these design elements give the SL65 Black Series an incredible and luxurious boy racer look. Think of it as if someone took a race car and made it comfortable and street legal. You can tell it’s incredibly fast just by looking at it, but you don’t want to drive it because it’s so pretty to look at. By far, this car has one of the most beautiful and interesting designs we have yet to see on a car under $1 million MSRP.
The Engine: Everyone knows that AMG cars that have a “65” attached to their letters are usually rocket ships boasting a V12 BiTurbo, and this one is no different sporting a similar motor but with a different tune. All this was connected to a modified version of the 5-speed transmission Mercedes used to use in all of its torque monster cars. The tune was also based on the fact that Mercedes tried hard to make this car more raw than comfortable. They succeeded in doing this, but also failed.
Putting down 661 hp and 800 tq, the SL65 AMG Black Series is the baddest V12 BiTurbo they put out, but the transmission feels different from the typical 5-speed by offering two settings that had never been previously released: T1 and T2 which allows the car to shift very aggressively in order to maintain the momentum of the speed. The problem is that, as Jeremy Clarkson stated in his Top Gear review of the car, it’s too fast. The rear end breaks loose when we put our foot down on it at about 50 mph.
It’s simply dangerous that the speed can cause the rear end to break loose, which requires a great deal of skill to make sure you don’t end up wrapped around a tree. It won’t grip on take off; it slides when you are trying to simply overtake a car on the highway. It’s all a bit too crazy, but the V12 sounds damn good as the car seems to be running a valved exhaust with a beautiful exhaust note above 3500 RPM.
The Ride: The suspension is another interesting component of this car. The car no longer uses the airmatic suspension found in all Mercedes cars, and instead has been replaced with adjustable coilovers (yes, you heard that correctly) that allow you to lower or raise the car mechanically to your desired height setting. Unlike airmatic, the coilovers don’t sacrifice comfort by being lowered. We took full advantage of this and lowered our car to the lowest possible setting for a great race stance.
While the suspension is great, the turning radius really isn’t. It handles very well, but it won’t make a U-turn without making a 3-point turn. This is partly due to its width and wheel size, and partly because we think it was built to go somewhere as fast as possible without turning back. In the US model that we have, the car comes with fully adjustable Mercedes seats unlike the Euro version that comes with carbon fiber bucket seats that we hear are quite uncomfortable to sit in. While the seats are beautiful, we wish they offered a US version of the carbon seats as we are sure they enhance the experience that the SL65 Black Series really is.
The Experience: To all of your car friends, owning a car like this is like owning a supercar such as a Bugatti or Enzo, because the rarity and race car appearance create a feeling of super expensive supercar. To the general public however, you are that guy who spent a lot of money on a Mercedes, and half of them don’t understand why you bought the only one of its kind whose roof doesn’t fold in.
It’s a car that is appreciated by enthusiasts everywhere since not many people have seen one, but it won’t turn heads like a Lamborghini Aventador. It drives well, looks striking in white, and is overall much hotter to look at than actually drive; so whether you are showing your friends or just staring at it yourself, it seems that your eyes are always drawn to it. While not everyone may know what it is, it still looks like a million bucks going down the street; and that by itself will draw a bit of attention.
The Deal: The SL65 sold new for over $300,000 which made it unaffordable to many, and with the limited production it seemed that it would only go up in value. The reality was it had yet to hit rock bottom until recently, and now will be trending upwards quickly which is why we bought one. With most SL65 Black Series’ selling at over $200K used, there are a few that can be found for $150K+ which makes it the nicest looking car you can buy and drive for under $200K.
We found our car in PA, and it had been sitting there for over 7 months because no one knew it was a Black Series as it wasn’t advertised as being one. We are convinced that many people overlooked this car, because they assumed it was a replica instead of the real thing.
Looking at market pricing, we waited until the dealer lowered the price of the car and then made an offer (this is what we teach you at Exotic Car Hacks). When we were finally ready, we made an offer $3K above wholesale and finished the deal buying the car $40K below its value for a one-of-one car.
Final Word: So all in all what do we think of the rarest modern Mercedes ever produced? It is simply art to look at. It’s too fast, it can’t turn worth shit, and it doesn’t even have a back up camera or sensors to make sure you don’t crash. Yet, there is something quite unique about it. You really can’t stop looking at it, because the beauty and aggressiveness surpasses anything we have ever seen. Its power and need to disobey the rules of being practical makes it unpredictable and dangerous.
It’s a very unique exotic both in the design and its spirit, and it’s aggression is felt both sitting behind the wheel or just simply looking at it. All of this and its rarity is the reason we named the Project Unicorn.