Date registered: Apr 2004
Location: The BlueGrass State
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Sibling Rivalry -- Coming Soon
Save your nickels and dimes, pence and pounds boys and girls, looks like the kids at Stuttgart have a couple of new toys coming down the Bahn.
Mercedes' Fratricide Supercar Wars
Written by: Autocar staff London, UK â€“ 6/28/2007
McLaren is set for a head-on collision with AMG as the two Mercedes satellite companies go toe-to-toe in the supercar market.
In a world exclusive, Autocar has learned that both McLaren and AMG are developing mid-engined, V8-powered supercars, both of which will appear on the market in 2010, and which will compete as rivals.
This supercar grudge match has been years in the making, flaring up after the controversial gestation of the Mercedes McLaren SLR in 2004.
Inside sources say that ever since the launch of the carbon-bodied machine, AMG has been lobbying Mercedes to be given the chance to build a bespoke supercar for its parent company.
Now, it looks like AMG is going to get that chance, but that wonâ€™t stop McLaren forging ahead with its plan for its own, V8-powered alternative.
The McLaren is likely to be called the F2, while the AMG version could get the Mercedes SLC moniker.
The McLaren F2
McLarenâ€™s long-delayed mid-engined supercar project is back on track. The first prototypes already on test in the UK, and our exclusive artistâ€™s impression reveals, for the first time, how the car could look.
For McLaren the project will be a chance to build a pure-bred follow-up the legendary F1, a car still regarded by some as the finest high-performance car in history.
The F2 has its roots in the P8, the car McLaren had been committed to building as a smaller and cheaper supercar with Mercedes, after the launch of the SLR. Mercedes boss Jurgen Hubbert confirmed in early 2004 that the company was actively â€ślooking at a mid-engined road car.â€ť
Codenamed P8, the car was put on hold in late 2004 by then-Mercedes Car Group boss Eckhard Cordes. Cordes said that the P8 had â€śsuccessfully completed the concept stage,â€ť but development had been frozen.
The hiatus was mainly a result of huge losses at Mercedes and the emergence of significant quality problems in its mainstream models. Also, the SLR was also not as well-received as Mercedes had hoped and there was a great deal of recrimination in the air, especially about its perceived engineering failings.
The F2 will be a solo effort by the Woking outfit, and a chance to re-establish the companyâ€™s credentials at the top-end of the market.
Sources have told Autocar that mechanical mules disguised under a Ferrari 360 body are already running around the companyâ€™s Woking HQ. They advise to expect a mid-engined machine built around a carbon-fiber monocoque.
If the new car does echo the 15-year old F1 concept it will be powered by a normally aspirated V12 powerplant too. However, as Formula 1 currently demands V8 engines, the baby McLaren could reflect F1â€™s attempts to become greener by concentrating on keeping weight down in tandem with a more modest powerplant.
The Mercedes-Benz SLC AMG
AMG is taking the next logical step in its 40-year history of building high-performance Mercedes derivatives and running successful race teams by building a completely bespoke supercar.
Company founder Hans-Werner Aufrecht is getting his chance to prove his company can build a better car than McLaren.
Mercedes has just given the green light to Aufrecht and his company HWA (a spin-off from AMG itself) to build a supercar, which should be unveiled in concept form at the Geneva motor show next spring.
So far thereâ€™s little in the way of solid detail about the car, aside from the fact that it will be powered by a high-performance AMG V8 engine, possibly a new 6.0-liter turbocharged V8. This engine was put on hold but is said to be back in development.
The Mercedes-AMG is also likely to be both more compact and lighter than the SLR, and could use parts from the forthcoming SL Black Series.
Like the CLK Black Series, this car will be re-engineered with bespoke suspension and drivetrain components. Using them in a second model would help spread the considerable cost.
The production version will be built in Affalterbach near Stuttgart, possibly starting in 2009 if the Geneva reception is favorable.
Being smart is knowing the difference, in a sticky situation between a well delivered anecdote and a well delivered antidote - bear.