If you're interested in a V12-powered Mercedes SL, you'll soon have to limit your searches to pre-owned cars. The automaker recently announced that it would no longer offer V12 power in the SL-class beginning with the 2012 model year, leaving its flagship convertible to instead make do with a host of V8s.

Last year, Mercedes cut the V12-powered SL600 from the SL-class's lineup, signaling the beginning of the end for the model's 12-cylinder variants. But Mercedes continued the cutting this year, also dropping the 604-horsepower twin-turbocharged SL65 AMG from the SL's lineup. That leaves the hardtop convertible without a V12 model for the first time since 1993, when the 389-horsepower 600SL joined the range.

Although enthusiasts will likely mourn the demise of the SL's most powerful engines - and one of the few V12s still available outside the world of exotic supercars - it's likely few buyers will actually notice. Even at their peak, the SL's 12-cylinder engines accounted for less than a quarter of all the model's sales, a number which decreased to less than 5 percent in recent years. While Mercedes didn't announce a reason behind the removal of 12-cylinder options from the SL's lineup, it's likely the automaker dropped the engines to begin a move toward smaller, more fuel-efficient powertrains.

For the SL, that means a return to its roots. Upon their debut in 1954, original models featured a choice of four- or six-cylinder engines. It wasn't until 1971 that Mercedes added a V8-powered variant, which replaced all six-cylinder US models by 2003.

Despite the high-performance SL65 AMG's cancellation, Mercedes says the 525-horsepower, V8-powered SL63 AMG will remain in production. Car shoppers looking for a high-performance Mercedes can also check out the newly introduced SLS AMG supercar, which features a 563-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 and stylish gullwing doors.

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Jeffrey Archer is fortunate to have turned a passion for cars into a career. His wide-ranging automotive experience includes work for automakers and dealers in addition to covering the news. When not writing, he spends his time searching for unique cars on AutoTrader.com.

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