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There Was a Mercedes SL With a Pagani Zonda Engine

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author photo by Doug DeMuro October 2016

Fact of the day: Mercedes-Benz once built an AMG version of its SL-Class convertible with the same engine as the Pagani Zonda. This wasn't made by some tuning company but by Mercedes itself. And it wasn't some one-off vehicle -- it was a production car you could buy. If you were insane, that is.

Here's how this came to be. Back in the days before AMG became a major arm for Mercedes-Benz performance vehicles, the automaker really had no idea what to do with it. So they did a lot of experimenting with different high-performance AMG engines in all sorts of vehicles. For example, there was an E50 AMG (although you've probably never heard of it). There was also an E60 AMG. And the original AMG C-Class didn't use a V8, like every later model, but rather a 280-horsepower 3.6-liter straight 6-cylinder. It was called the C36 AMG.

One of the engines involved in this experiment was a 7.3-liter V12 they decided to stick in the R129 SL-Class. Although the R129 model was made from 1989 to 2002, the SL73 was sold only in very limited quantities for very limited years. It was released in 1995, then pulled from the market and subsequently rereleased for the R129 SL-Class's swan song from 1998 to 2001. Unfortunately, the SL73 was sold in limited markets: While Mercedes offered it in its home market of Germany (and the rest of Europe), no AMG version of the R129 SL-Class ever made it to the States.

So what does this have to do with Pagani? Although most general car enthusiasts don't realize it, Pagani fans know what's coming next: The Pagani Zonda also used a 7.3-liter V12 sourced from Mercedes-Benz. And -- you guessed it -- it's the exact same engine, although it made 525 hp in the SL73, while Pagani was able to tune the engine for nearly 600 hp by the end of the Zonda's run in 2011.

And so, if you've always been mesmerized by the Pagani Zonda's impressive powertrain, its amazing performance and its tremendous engine note, just remember: You can have all of that in an 1990s Mercedes convertible with an automatic transmission and dual-zone climate control.

Photo credit: Javgar on Wikipedia

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There Was a Mercedes SL With a Pagani Zonda Engine - Autotrader