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Time Attacking In A JDM-Style SL500

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Car Features

Time Attacking In A JDM-Style SL500


Given its huge size, it’s not unusual for multiple events to happen at the same time at Fuji International Speedway. So it didn’t come as too much of a surprise to me when I found out that a time attack circuit session catering to European cars was going on while I was checking out the annual R34 Meet.

My main focus on the day was to shoot Skylines, so by the time I arrived in the paddock, most of the time-attacking Euro machinery had already left and just a handful of owners were still packing up. That’s when I spotted something interesting amongst the stragglers – a track-spec, but road-registered Mercedes-Benz SL500.

My curiosity was instantly piqued; the carbon fiber splitter, canards, air scoops and GT wing gave the small two-seater a real aggressive look. This was definitely something you don’t see everyday, even the automotive melting pot that is Japan.

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What stood out the most, however, was the 295×30 Hoosier slicks protruding slightly from the front fender wells. I could tell from afar that this car was built for a purpose.

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Unbeknownst to me, the owner was watching me poke around the SL500, and could obviously tell that I wanted to know more about his machine. Thus, he casually walked over, introduced himself, and asked if I wanted to see inside and what was under the hood. Yes I did!

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The interior hasn’t exactly been stripped out, but there’s only one seat and a JDM-style arrangement of gauges up the A-pillar and across the dashboard.

In the passenger side footwall sat a giant water jug with an electrical pump fitted to it. It’s purpose? With a flick of a switch, water is pumped to the front of the car and sprayed across the intercooler core for some extra cooling.

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In the quest for power, the SL’s original M273 V8 engine has been removed and replaced with its supercharged brother – the AMG M113. With a few tweaks here and there, the owner told me it’s now outputting around 550 horsepower.

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I definitely wasn’t expecting to find a time attack-spec Mercedes-Benz at Fuji Speedway while attending a Skyline meet, but I’m pleased I did. Hopefully I’ll be able to see it in action in the near future!

Ron Celestine
Instagram: celestinephotography

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