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Monday, December 31st, 2012

Wish I Was in Maine

Actually I don't, with apologies to the lovely family and friends I left behind when I got the hell out of that nasty, brutish (read: alternately cold/windy and humid/buggy) place about 15 years ago.

But when I came across this 500 Benz in Kennebunkport, Maine, on a visit last summer, it reminded me how badly I want a set of these particular (and sadly quite rare) 18-inch AMG "monoblock" wheels.

The original SL monoblocks (as opposed to the more generic subsequent R129 AMG wheels, sometimes called "monoblocks" as well) were only available for three years—1996-1998—neatly coinciding with the halcyon days of the 500 Benz, when the engine was still the hand-assembled M119 V8 but the transmission was now the superior electronically controlled 722.6 five-speed automatic.

Thing is, you had to specify the AMG Sport Package, which also included a subtle body kit, to get 'em. And the otherwise eminently wise and glorious original owner of my 500 Benz neglected to do so.

Here's a photo of a random '98 SL500 Sport from the other side of the country that I concededly did not spot in the wild. I said godDAMN that's a beautiful car, especially with the xenon headlights (note the full lenses and absence of wipers). Aesthetically speaking, that's the perfect 500 Benz right there.

Now, I have to admit, my standard 16-inch wheels have grown on me a little. They seem very German, whatever that means. But more importantly, they give me a big fat slice of sidewall, which is an increasingly rare thing in the new cars I evaluate for my day job. It's fun to feel the tires compress over undulations without running out of rubber. Never mind that the cowl shake is still epic, even with all that sidewall. Sometimes I'll hit a bump just right, so that nothing shakes and everything gets compressed out by the shocks and tires, and in those moments I feel downright spiritual. Also, thankful that I've got the 16s.

But I said godDAMN! Look at those monoblocks. God...damn.

posted in: Spotted in the Wild  


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