50 years since “The Red Pig” awed the motorsport world with a class victory in Spa

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Half a century has passed since The Red Pig awed the motorsport world with a class victory in Spa-Francorchamps. It was then the beginning of a new era.

Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG. It was an anonymous the moment it joined the competition in Spa-Francorchamps. It was too big, too glossy, too strange for the race. But then it came and put AMG on the motorsport map overnight. At 3 p.m. on the 24th of July 1972, almost 800 touring cars started the 24 Hours of Spa. There was a luxury saloon among them. The W 109 model series seemed to have nothing in common with a race car. It was the creation of the engineering firm of Hans Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher. The car, even following modifications, weiht 1,635 kilograms. It was 195 kilograms lighter the series version. But it was still too much.

The model came with 428 horsepower and 620 Newton meters of torque. Its top speed was 265 km/h. it accelerated from a standstill to 100 km/h in 6.1 seconds. It seemed all right on paper. But how would it be on the racetrack?

The Red Pig looked good on paper. But how did it look on the racetrack?

Not many knew what AMG was about in 1971. Some knew the acronym was a reference to the names of the founders. But that was it. They were about to find out what exactly it was about. Because 24 hours later, Hans Heyer and Clemens Schickentanz took the Mercedes-Benz 300 SEL 6.8 AMG to a sensation second place finish overall. Furthermore, they were the winners of their class.

“The stroke of the Swabian genius”, auto motor und sport reported on the following day. Road & Track wrote: “The big V8 had an insatiable thirst for fuel, and its weight meant that it quickly wrecked its tires. However, the straight-line speed of the Red Pig more than made up for its inefficiencies on the long straights of Spa-Francorchamps. And after 24 hours, it ended up storming its way to an incredible second place behind a Ford Capri.”

Today, the Red Pig is on display at the Mercedes-Benz Museum. Guests can also see the detailed reconstruction of the iconic car from 20th of July to 19th of September.