Jeremy Clarkson might have turned into a parody of himself in later years but there’s no denying he was one of the all-time great motoring journalists at his peak – and if the boy thinks a car is a good ‘un you’d be a fool not to listen.
So, when you hear that he replaced his Ferrari 355 with a Mercedes-Benz SL55 AMG in 2002 you start to understand what a great car the R230 lineup is.
Facelifted in 2008, the old 5.4-litre M113 V8 engine Clarkson had raved about was ditched in favour of the newer M156 6.2-litre V8. With 518bhp with 465 lb.ft of torque, the refreshed SL63 AMG can accelerate to 62mph in 4.6 seconds on its way to a limited top speed of 155 mph.
The SL63 AMG came with a new AMG-developed seven-speed MCT (Multi Clutch Technology) automatic transmission which used a compact wet start-up clutch to get the car off the line.
Evo magazine raved: “The further you drive the SL63, the better it feels. The directness of its steering, the firmness of its chassis and the need to work its engine and gearbox hard ultimately fuse into a very satisfying experience. As ever, the active suspension helps disguise the SL’s weight, giving the car a neat, agile feel through a sequence of bends.”
In fact, it was so good a modified version was the Safety Car for the Formula One seasons of 2008 and 2009.