Hi folks, I will start this thread of my 11 years journey as the owner of my R171 2006 SLK 55 AMG. I am the first owner of this car. I bought it on July of 2005, as a 2006 model. This car was my third Mercedes roadster. My first roadster was an iridium silver 2001 R170 SLK 320 which introduced me to the Mercedes marquee. This was after owning a series of different, heavily modified, BMW's. This little roadster really changed my perception of what a Mercedes should be, or was, to my eyes. With the introduction of the 2003 R170 AMG SLK 32, I was so impressed by the performance figures and its specs, that I gave the 320 to my mother, and didn't hesitate to get the first SLK AMG 32, that reached my local Mercedes Benz dealer. Luckily it was also iridium silver. As you can see, this is my late mother (rest in peace) on the SLK 320 and my new SLK 32 AMG on the background.
With that car, I bullied my old friends of the BMW crowd, and almost any car that tried to challenge me on the road. I had a blast with that car! However, when I learned that the next generation of the mighty little AMG roadster, was going to sport the 5.4 liter V8, from the other "bigger" AMG brothers, I was in awe. However, that awe turned into a bit of disappointment, when I learnt that the engineers at , decided to forego the supercharger, and kept the car from becoming the beast it could have been. I understood, that the sales of the bigger SL could have been affected, but one can dream. Or not?
However, when I first saw the body of that "mini" SLR McLaren , and heard the growl of its freshly started engine that likened the sound of a monster of yore, all thoughts of truncated potential were forgotten, and I bought it on the spot! It was a Mars red little monster, that commanded a view, specially when it went away toplessThis was my weekend warrior car. It only accumulated 25,000 miles from 2005 to 2016 courtesy of a 2003 BMW X5 and a w212 2010 Mercedes E550 that served as my daily drivers.
In 2013, while checking in for a routine maintenance at my local dealer, I stumbled into a rare, new w204 2014 C63 coupe edition 507, that was just being delivered from the port at that moment. It turned out that this was the only 507 Coupe allotted to Puerto Rico, and you can guess that between the dismay of my wife and the cheer of my children... yes, you knew, I bought it on the spot!
With this purchase, I got a voucher for the AMG driving academy, and attended the May 9, 2014 Palm Beach international raceway basic course in Florida. I dragged my oldest son with me, (21 years old at the time, and also convinced a friend to attend the training course with us too) We had a great time, and I managed to be the fastest driver in the final time trial. The cars used were the newest R172 SLK 55 AMG with the updated V8 motor. The coveted AMG helmet was mine! I was bitten by the racing bug, and I knew there was no turning back. Now you know how my interest on racing my Mercedes begun.
Back in Puerto Rico I started to follow the different track events and decided to do my first track day. I had to decide between using my C63 or the SLK. The two main road courses in Puerto Rico are at the towns of Salinas and Ponce. Salinas is faster, with long curves but Ponce is more technical and also quite scary due to its closeness to the walls. Both courses are favorable to small, light cars with moderate to high power. AWD cars reign supreme here. Since my C63 507 came with the drivers package, top speed raised to 186 mph, AMG Media, and LSD, I thought it was the obvious choice and decided to unleash it on Ponce. The car is quite powerful but its weight in the mostly tight curves at Ponce proved to be a real handicap. I literally destroyed the tires and had to buy new ones right away the next day. Here is a YouTube video of that day viewed from an FRS: https://youtu.be/5te5y8Z9qZs
I needed something lighter but also powerful. Easier on the tires and with good grip on the curves. Then it hit me, the SLK is 650 pounds lighter than the C63, uses almost the same tire width, it has a lower center of gravity and is wider than the C63. What a little monster! Quite frankly, the SLK deserves more respect from the enthusiasts. Nobody sees it as a performance car. Some may even question the masculinity of its drivers. Well, let me tell you that this car has a great performance potential.
On the next track day, I went with the SLK "as is", to evaluate the weaknesses and strengths of the car. The first thing to give up were the brakes. I managed to boil the brake fluid, and couldn't race it any more. The shock absorbers felt to be another weak link. Also the Continental tires seemed not up to the task. My best lap was 1 minute 40 seconds. For comparison I did a 1:35 on the C63 with full traction control activated and driving overly cautious on the curves. Here is the link of that first track day on the SLK: https://youtu.be/kc_umqfmzT0
I ordered new Stoptech braided steel brake lines, front pads and race brake oil, from the tire rack. Even though I new that the suspension was not up to the task, this car also serves me as an open top, Sunday driving machine to have a good time with my wife and friends by the coasts in the 😎 Caribbean. The suspension stayed. Now, say hello to more horsepower, to compensate for the lack of turning power! I decided to start with free flow air filters from K&N and installing headers. After enduring the unending debate of which header is best, I decided to go with kleemann headers. The reason? They make great products, and it didn't had the dire "Mercedes tax" price. I bought them for less than $1k. End of debate.
This headers eliminate the primary cats. I opted to change the secondaries for 200 cel race ones and placed an X pipe on the resonators place. The car was tuned at a local dyno by a local tuner, Iturino, and he was able to extract 357 wheel horsepower. However he finally set it at 345whp for safety. Here is the video: https://youtu.be/swe_34Gge9k
I changed the tires to Michelin PSS in sizes 225/40/18 front and 255/35/18 rear. With the newfound horsepower and brake power, I ventured again to the track and was able to lower my lap time to 1 minute 34 seconds. A 6 seconds improvement over my last set up, and one second faster than my conservative time in the C63. Now we are talking, yea! Video: https://youtu.be/JVrUH7jrFgo
Now the adrenaline is running high, and I need more of it! Now the question is: do I compromise? I want to be faster but... will the balance go to 6 or 10 races a year vs family time in the weekends. Its tough... let's compromise a little... let's buy only the shocks and loose only a little in comfort for a more controlled chassis... I opted for the Bilstein sport shocks (B8). Driving out of the shop, I noticed that the car felt much better. It ran with greater composure and was significantly much more comfortable. I couldn't believe it. It felt very planted to the ground and at the same time the car´s rattles markedly decreased. This is a great street set up. Why I waited so long? With them I ran a 1 minute 32.5 seconds best lap. Almost a 2 seconds improvement! Here is the video: https://youtu.be/278FoNhDm98
In between track days, a few friends and I visited the local 1/8 mile track in the town of Arecibo. I drove my C63 and my great friend, Rey Colon, was kind enough to endure driving in a topless convertible Mercedes on a beautiful day to the track, avoiding advances from beautiful Caribbean girls passers by. What a friend! I got to race both of my cars , and the next SLK weakness appeared faster than a Pokémon on a bored kid with an iPhone. An open differential. What were the Affalterbach gods thinking when they decided against a proper two rear wheel propulsion option with their smaller AMG units? With its newfound power, the dreaded one tire burn up became almost unbearable. However, with less weight than its competitors, the little SLK was a force to be recon with... see video: https://youtu.be/LWmGsbLu0m8
Monday came, and I ordered a Wavetrac limited slip differential. The reason? I hate the fact, that when my C63 puts a tire in the air when entering my steep local gas station entrance, the car cannot put any power on the tire planted on the ground. This is a flaw on most LSD, that Wavetrac has resolved. Enough said. Now the car sprints from a stop like a bat out of hell!
I wanted to experience the track at Salinas because it is a faster track. For comparison my fastest straight in Ponce was at 107 mph. At Salinas I was able to reach 125 mph. The SLK is more suited for this faster track because it has good aerodynamics and a good power to weight ratio. I was able to pass Camaro’s, Nissan 370, etc. I even won first place in my category (B) in the two events that I was able to run in the final months of 2016. My best lap was 1:10
Here is one video: note that we were running with the local circuit racers in fully prepped race cars! https://youtu.be/mzl_ImtPQhw