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Best of the Best 2007: Aftermarket

Paul Meyers

Even among Ferrari F430s and Porsche Turbos, a Brabus K8 (www.brabus-usa.com) will stand out like a rabid canine at the Westminster Kennel Club show. The reworked Mercedes-Benz CLS55 AMG strikes a mean profile, and every modification to the body has a functional, aerodynamic purpose. Brabus massages an additional 81 hp from the 5.5-liter V-8, for a total output of 550 hp, propelling the K8 from zero to 60 mph in 4.1 seconds. The German tuner accommodates the K8’s additional capabilities with a lower suspension and recalibrated springs, and sport sway bars further enhance handling. But the car’s $150,000 price covers more than performance adjustments: deluxe interior trim and an electronics package complete with DVD player mean that passengers will enjoy the K8 nearly as much as its driver.

While the world awaits the production version of a supercharged Corvette—alternately referred to as the Blue Devil, Z07, and SS—the built-to-order, $120,000 Callaway C16 (www.callawaycars.com) is already laying tire tracks across the country. The supercharged 6.0-liter V-8 engine supplies 616 hp at 6,200 rpm and 582 ft lbs of torque at 4,750 rpm (111 more horsepower and 112 more ft lbs of torque than a 2007 Corvette Z06 generates). With a top speed of 206 mph and a zero-to-60-mph time of less than 4 seconds, this bespoke Chevy boasts performance numbers that rival those of the Ferrari 599 GTB. However, Callaway did not dedicate its time and skills to the engine alone. The C16’s interior is clad in leather and Alcantara, and a new spring damper suspension system allows the driver to adjust its height and stiffness for track use.

RENNtech, renowned for its expertise in tuning electronic engine management systems, created the ultimate supercar performance package in the RENNtech SLR McLaren (www.renntechmercedes.com). RENNtech revised the Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR’s engine control unit, added a larger drive pulley to the twin-screw supercharger, and tailored the intake system for better airflow. These upgrades draw an additional 75 hp from the SLR’s supercharged 5.4-liter V-8 engine, which in stock form already develops 626 hp. By offering a vehicle capable of a zero-to-60 time in the 3.5-second range and a top speed of 208 mph, RENNtech presents a second chance to those who were not fortunate enough to acquire one of the 150 special-edition SLR 722s that Mercedes built. The RENNtech SLR McLaren is priced at $500,000, which is about $20,000 more than the 722.

The turbocharged, 3.6-liter, 6-cylinder engine of the Porsche 911 Turbo responds to the slightest throttle application, but the power plant in the TechArt 997 Turbo (www.techart.de) snarls with a deeper, throatier exhaust note. With larger turbochargers and a recalibrated engine control unit from TechArt, the engine develops 580 hp and 615 ft lbs of torque. It catapults the 997 from zero to 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and to a top speed of 210 mph. TechArt has lowered the base model’s ride height by an inch, giving its 997 a more aggressive stance, and has filled the wheel wells with 20-inch aluminum alloy rims. The revamped suspension features TechArt sport springs, and the 6-speed manual gearbox has been finessed with shorter throws. Exterior modifications include a front spoiler, carbon-fiber front grille and mirror inserts, new side skirts, a rear add-on diffuser, and roof and rear spoilers. The interior has a TechArt pedal set and a thick sport steering wheel with perforated leather. The complete package is priced at $194,000.

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