VIDEO: Mechatronik 280 SE vs Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG

A classic Mercedes-Benz could be considered the pinnacle of automotive engineering. From 1955 to 1990, if you wanted a car that was so thoughtfully designed and built that it doubled as a bank vault on wheels, you bought a Mercedes-Benz. If you wanted a car that could outlast global warming, the collapse of a world superpower, the rise of three new ones, two major financial crises, and the democratization of information and still feel more robust than almost any other car built today, you bought a Mercedes-Benz. More specifically you bough something like a 450 SEL 6.9 or a 280 SE.  What if you needed something with that longevity that was modern? Retro is all the rage these days. It's an attempt to get back to the "roots" of our culture, to a time when things were more real and more honest. As car enthusiasts, we see the validity in those claims. If you've ever sat in an old Rolls Royce, Citroen or Jaguar you can literally smell the authenticity of the thought process that went into the development of those cars. Retro is very cool, because back then people tried hard to get it right first time. Which is something Mercedes-Benz did for a very long time, and then the world changed. The sad reality is, even though the big body Benzes of yore survived the test of time, their powertrains simply haven't. They can't meet the rigors of modern driving. They drink gas like no other, they pollute, and lets be honest, the 3.5-liter V8 originally featured in the 280 SE wasn't exactly fast. A Mazdaspeed 3 makes more horsepower and torque than the 3.5 liter did in 1971 (200 hp and 211 lb-ft of torque). Luckily for Mercedes Benz fans, (with seriously deep pockets) here comes Mechatronik. Originally a restorer and classic Mercedes-Benz repair company, Mechatronik decided to get into the business of tuning the cars it helped keep running. However, there are no trick carburateors and NOS here. What they've done is update the Mercedes-Benz hot rod of its day with a modern Mercedes hot rod motor. All the other parts that made the original 280 SE so great remained intact. The result is the subtly shocking. The 400 hp naturally aspirated 5.5-liter V8 that found its way to almost every Mercedes model during the 2000's, has been sandwiched into a very clean 280 SE. At this point you may be asking yourself, "Isn't there already a big Mercedes coupe that has a gigantic V8 under the hood?" Yep, the CL63 AMG. Car and Driver took both of these Schwabian coupes on a California road test to see which is the more over-engineered hot rod; the retro-cool Mechatronik 280 SE or the techno-tastic CL63 AMG.  The results might surprise you. See more of the CL63 AMG here

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