Savage Wraith: Daily Driven 1,000 hp Mercedes-Benz SL600

Bernie Towns built his Mercedes-Benz SL600 with a single purpose in mind: to daily drive a 1,000-rear wheel drive horsepower car. Part of his goal was to have the vehicle look inconspicuous, and aside from the aftermarket wheels and other details like the carbon fiber diffuser and front air dam, most might overlook the SL600.

As seen on Street Outlaws in the “daily driver race,” Towns says he used the stock engine to achieve high horsepower numbers. “I wanted to the turbo in the stock location,” Towns said. He added Tial gave him a set of custom turbos that mounted directly to the Speedriven turbo manifolds. “Currently we have not come close to the max potential, but a built motor will be needed to do so.”

As it sits, the car has 783 rear wheel horsepower.

Additionally, Towns says the exhaust note is a little noticeable when its started but cruising is nice and mellow until you engage the pedal. From the exhaust manifolds, individual runners flow to the collector. After the turbo, the exhaust flows through 3-inch titanium tips.

The factory air intake was replaced by a Speedriven Spider Intake with a K&N air filter that feeds the turbochargers. Towns also replaced the air-to-water intercooler with a high-flow Speedriven unit with an attached Tial blow off valve. Towns also has a boost controller that allows him to switch the car from Q16 / Q16-93 mix to a straight 93.

The factory Air-Water system used the factory engine cooling supply which included a small heat exchanger has been replaced as well. Towns said the current system is entirely self-contained and features a custom C&R Heat Exchanger in the front with a separate water tank and high volume pump in the trunk. Towns said the tunk is totally functional and the tank isn’t seen, he added: “the convertible top still retracts in the trunk.”

“The ECU and TCU have been custom tuned by Speedriven to handle all the updated and new parts,” Towns said.

The car retains its stock transmission though it had to be rebuilt to handle the horsepower and the torque. Towns added additional clutches per gear and had some machine work performed. He says “it works great and is a lot more fun.”

Brakes on the SL600 are pretty stout with 14-inch rotors and 8-piston calipers in the front, 13-inch rotors with 4-piston calipers in the rear. “With this much power people usually skimp on brakes, but not me. The replacement used is just overkill,” Towns said.

Upfront, the SL600 features a 16-inch two piece rotor with 12-piston calipers, complimented by 15-inch rotors and 4-piston calipers in the rear. Towns shared the first time he and a friend tested the upgraded brakes, his friend nearly hit the dash while Towns hit the steering wheel. “Note to self, use the seatbelt!”

Towns has two sets of ADV-1 wheels. One set, staggered 20×8 with 255/30/20 tires in the front and 20×11 with 305/25/20 in the rear, is for daily and some road course use while the other set, staggered 18×8 with 255/40/19 up front and 19×12 with 325/30/19 in the back, is used for drag racing.

Completing the look and functionality of the car are the aerodynamics. The front and rear diffusor are functional and made of carbon fiber. Towns adds that at speeds over 100 mph the car automatically lowers itself.

On the inside, Towns replaced the wood accents with carbon fiber and replaced the steering wheel for one wrapped in leather and alcateric with paddle shifting.

“The car name is ‘the Savage Wraith.’ I think it fits nicely,” Towns said. He added as is, “the car can be driven daily without any issues.” His future plans for the car include a built Speedriven engine with stand-alone ECU to get 1,500 horsepower at the rear wheels.

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About the author

Nicole Ellan James

As an automotive journalist and avid car enthusiast, Nicole Ellan James has a passion for automotive that is reflected in every aspect of her lifestyle. Follow Nicole on Instagram and Facebook - @nicoleeellan
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