The only right-hand drive Rocket ever made is now for sale at C63 money…
By Matt Bird / Thursday, October 15, 2020
Nowadays, it seems like barely a week passes by without another far fetched claim of top speed derring-do. Credit is due to Bugatti for actually getting to a verified 300mph, because that's an amazing feat, but the continuous claims of this thing doing 280mph and that one reaching 186mph in six seconds does rather belittle the achievement. Once upon a time proof of big speed was big news; having now been overawed with so many cars that are capable of (or claim to be capable of) enormous velocities, we've become somewhat inured to the impact. When manufacturers began charging money to raise speed limiters was probably the saturation point for really, really fast stuff.
Which is kind of a shame, because the pursuit of speed is a noble cause (well, we think so) and a damn hard arena in which to achieve your stated goals. Especially if starting with an enormous Mercedes saloon, as Brabus so often does. But through grit, determination, huge swept capacity and a forced induction support crew, Brabus has forged a reputation for generating unseemly speed from four-door Mercedes.
Almost 15 years ago, a Rocket just like this one was a record breaker, claiming the title for the fastest road legal saloon in the world. At Nardo in 2006, the Brabus-modified CLS reached 365.7km/h, or 227.2mph, which is a phenomenal speed for any homologated production car to achieve – leave alone a four-door saloon. Or coupe, as Mercedes would probably call it. Manufacturing of the road car could then commence, with top speed on those cars limited to 220mph.
The Rocket ditched the CLS 55's supercharged V8 for the turbocharged 5.5-litre V12 as found in contemporary '600' Mercs; Brabus then bored it out to 6.3 litres, fitted a bespoke crank, bigger turbos, forged pistons, new intercoolers and a more vocal exhaust for a staggering 740hp and 811lb ft. As per many Brabus creations of the time, that torque number is actually a limited figure to prevent the gearbox disintegrating; the mighty V12 was actually capable of almost 1,000lb ft…
Containing that rampant power for the Rocket was all new Brabus suspension and ginormous brakes: 12-piston calipers were fitted up front, with six-piston items used at the rear. Still, if a car is able to reach 186mph in less than 30 seconds, being able to stop properly is fairly critical as well. The rest of the makeover was pretty standard fare for a Brabus transformation: some carbon trinkets, upgraded leather, snazzier (and lighter) wheels plus a few discreet badges for those looking.
Given all that, and given that the Brabus cost almost a quarter of a million in the mid-2000s, unearthing any Rocket today is a pretty special find. But this one isn't just any old V12 CLS; it's a right-hand drive Rocket, said to be the only one ever produced. Therefore all the usual arguments against one of the mad German tuner special in the UK – usually centred around managing that performance sat on the wrong side of the car – are redundant. It's just like an old CLS55, really. Only with more power than the new GT Black Series.
Little more expensive than a CLS55, though, at £69,950. Still, for a car that reputedly cost more than $400k new and which has covered just 2,000 miles a year since 2007, that doesn't look disastrous. It's new C63 money, put it that way. For a unique example of a record breaking car, a Mercedes with the deliciously malevolent swag (and monumental power) that only Brabus can provide, £70k seems hard to argue with. Just maybe keep it stored until the temperatures pick up again – 811lb ft in the winter might be hard work…
SPECIFICATION | BRABUS ROCKET
Engine: 6,233cc, twin-turbo V12
Transmission: 5-speed auto, rear-wheel drive
Power (hp): 740@5,100rpm
Torque (lb ft): 811@2,100rpm
Year registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 26,000
Price new: £237,000 (ad says "in excess of $400k")
Yours for: £69,950
See the original advert here.
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