After a horrific 1955 crash at Le Mans, Mercedes-Benz banned itself from participating in motorsports for about four decades. But now-in-house Mercedes tuner AMG was not subject to that factory ban. One of AMG’s most iconic vehicles, the so-called “Red Pig,” raced at the 24 Hours of Spa in 1971, where it finished first in its class and second overall. And now, Sotheby’s is auctioning a high-end replica of that car during its Paris auction in February.
The original Red Pig was built from a damaged 300 SEL. AMG crammed in a 6.8-liter V8 engine putting out about 426 horsepower, and gave it a wider track, larger tires, flared wheel arches and aluminum doors. The car’s sheer bulk, extra headlights that looked like nostrils and striking red livery all combined to lead to the nickname.
That Red Pig is no longer with us, sadly. It ended up being used to test jet fighter tires, of all things; it was heavy and fast enough to replicate the stresses involved in landing aircraft. But a few high-end replicas have been made. This version, but from a 1969 300 SEL donor, was modified by Mercedes-Benz experts Arthur Bechtel Classic Motors in Germany for a South Korean customer. It has been driven less than 500 miles since the restoration.
RM Sotheby’s is auctioning this 300 SEL without a reserve, but did not offer an estimated price. Don’t expect it to go cheap, though.
Oh, as an aside, if you’re curious about how much internal combustion engines have evolved over the subsequent decades: consider that Mercedes-AMG now pulls Red Pig-level horsepower from its 2.0-liter hot hatch engine.
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