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Speedriven’s 1000 HP Ethanol-powered CL600

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At more than sixteen feet long and weighing nearly five-thousand pounds the W215 series Mercedes-Benz CL coupes were always going to have more in common with marine mammals than they were with sporty little two-seaters like the Chevy Corvette or Porsche Turbo. At least, that’s how it seemed before 2003, when Mercedes gave the big CL a 493 HP twin-turbocharged V12 engine that blasted the two-and-a-half ton land whale from 0-60 MPH in less than five seconds on the way to a sub-fourteen second ¼ mile time … which, you know, is fine.

What if you want more than “fine”, though? What if you want your big, comfortable Mercedes-Benz to run down anything on four wheels? What if you want to have your cake and eat it, too? What if, in other words, you want a car that’s less of a marine mammal, and more of a mythological sea monster?

Release the Kraken

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If that’s what you’re looking for, allow me to introduce you to this menacing leviathan of a car. Built by Speedriven in Palatine, IL, this ethanol-fueled 2003 Mercedes-Benz CL600 is packing more twice the horsepower it came from the factory with, and is ready to blast across the quarter mile line in under eleven seconds- making it more than a match for the very latest Corvette Z06 and Porsche 991 Turbo.

That Porsche, by the way, will set you back well over $150,000 in the real world. The Speedriven Mercedes? Not even close.

“You could go out and replicate this car, just like it is, for sixty, maybe seventy thousand dollars,” says Bobby, the car’s owner. “You can buy a clean V12 Mercedes for twenty or twenty-five thousand, figure another thirty-five for the work Speedriven did, and figure a little bit here and there to fix any maintenance issues to make the car ‘right’ and it’s done.”

You read that right. Despite carrying a $150,000 price tag of its own when it debuted, a well-kept example of a 2003-2006 model year Mercedes-Benz CL600 can be had for around $25K, today, and that six-figure depreciation can be a tough pill to swallow.

“Some guys look at this car and they see it for what it is. It’s a big V12, it has almost all the features you’d find in a new Lexus or Cadillac, and it’s cheap enough now that guys can buy it as a toy,” says Bobby. “Then you have the guys like me that bought it when it was new, or nearly new, and made big payments on it for a lot of years. The car is worth more to me than what I can sell it for, so I’m gonna keep it, and maybe I’m gonna do some work to it to make it feel new to me, you know?”

Doing “some work” to this particular Mercedes CL600 meant sending the car to Speedriven- and that’s when SD’s experts in massaging more power and performance out of Mercedes’ V12 engines began transforming the CL into the monstrous, ethanol-fueled street beast you see here.

The first step was ditching the tiny turbos the V12 was fitted with from the factory. They were replaced with a set of upgraded turbos modified with Speedriven-specific wheels and housings. Those new turbos are fitted to 3″ stainless steel downpipes and freer-flowing turbo-back exhaust system, as well. Feeding the SD turbos are a pair of massive, anaconda-sized cold air intakes pushing air to a set of top-mounted water-to-air intercoolers. Those coolers work to keep intake temperatures low, maximizing the amount of oxygen reaching the cylinders and burning the ethanol fuel.

The Speedriven hardware and ethanol-friendly fuel system are managed by the factory Mercedes ECU running SD’s own in-house software. So equipped and with a tank full of fresh Ignite Racing high-performance ethanol, this Mercedes CL600 generates nearly 1000 horsepower at the crank – more than enough, in other words, to make the car feel like new again.

“These are the true supercars,” says Bobby, looking at the results of his Mercedes’ dyno run, above, which shows less of a torque curve and more of a torque mountain. “There’s nothing out there like this, right now, at any price.”

Mercedes-Benz CL600 | These Are the True Supercars

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For more information about Speedriven performance upgrades for 2003-2015 600 series V12 Mercedes-Benz and converting your Mercedes to ethanol, contact the shop at their primary facility in Palatine, IL or visit their website at speedriven.com. For more information about Ignite high-performance ethanol, contact Ignite Racing Fuels in Marion, Indiana, or through their website at igniteracingfuel.com. Visit afdc.energy.gov to find out about the US Department of Energy’s findings on ethanol’s life cycle energy and greenhouse gas emissions, and how it compares to other fuels.