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Why We Went Hog-Wild for the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute

On a test drive around Pebble Beach, Calif., we found the automotive homage a visceral highlight of Monterey Car Week.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute Photo: Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

The car that birthed AMG decades ago emerged from the minds of Hans Werner Aulfrecht and Erhard Melcher (the “A” and the “M”), two erstwhile Mercedes engineers who had a zealous penchant for speed. The duo famously snagged a Mercedes 300 SEL 6.3 and bored the V-8 mill to 6.8-liters, eliminated all extraneous bits, dropped in a roll cage and hit the track in a bid for dominance. The first time out of the gate, the second spot on the podium was nabbed at Spa Francorchamps and the car—colloquially dubbed The Red Pig—cemented a worthy place in history. That very steed was later sold to an airline company to test landing gear since it was the only thing powerful enough to impart a similar stress on airplane’s tires and was ultimately demolished.

Mercedes-Benz Classic Center dutifully replicated The Red Pig, factory-correct, right down to matching the stickers that adorned the original machine. That tribute gets trotted out for display at special events and the occasional demonstration drive, but the Classic Center folks wisely made another unit, to nearly the identical specifications. Meet the Silver Pig. This one is sparingly doled out for lucky journalists to sample and we were fortunate enough to score a seat during Monterey Car Week this year.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute  Photo: Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Upon startup, the beautiful cacophony emitted from the 6.7-liter V-8, with quad Weber twin-barrel carbs affixed, must be identical to what it sounds like when Satan clears his throat. It’s a big, beefy growl that permeates the Spartan cabin and resides in your ears long after you’ve parted ways with the beast. In this tune, approximately 430 horses and 450 ft lbs of twist are on offer, more than ample to propel this 3,200-pound car to heart-racing speeds in a flash.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute  Photo: Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Granted, there’s no discernible method for determining those speeds thanks to a speedometer delete. Only a watch-sized tachometer graces the middle of an (original) wood dash, trimmed in Alcantara. A set of analog stopwatches is perched above the dash, reminding you how lap timing used to be measured. Clamber over the roll cage and into a bucket race seat, click into the race harness, say a small prayer, and you’re then allowed to commence one of the greatest drives of your life.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute  Photo: Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

Rowing through the perfect manual transmission while that enormous power plant gloriously howls is a proper hoot, especially on sleepy Pebble Beach backroads. The steering is laser-focused and the stiff ride on those gold wheels provides ideal road feel and stability without shaking your spine apart. Pin the throttle, watch the tach leap above 3,500 rpm and the sound only intensifies in the best way possible. You don’t ever want to back out of the gas, but the tight hairpins around the area require you to do so. Racing brakes means the stopper pedal requires mashing with might and vigor, but the Silver Pig slows like a dream, too. There’s a fair amount of noise under braking, but even that chatter makes you grin like a buffoon. You’re effectively piloting a street-legal Can-Am car; why not let the world know you’re coming from a mile away?

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL AMG Red Pig Tribute  Photo: Courtesy of Mercedes-Benz

To that end, viciously snort around a corner and come upon a group of car photographers snapping away at the latest hypercar out for a test drive and all the lenses will swing your way. Rightfully so. The closest existing relative to the prodigious car that underpinned a wonderful company dedicated to fast deserves all the attention.

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