While an AMG badge signifies greater performance than a standard Mercedes-Benz, there has also been a performance hierarchy within AMG for some time. At the top of that hierarchy are the Black Series models, and racing driver Tommy Kendall recently brought one of the earliest versions to Jay Leno's famous garage.
The 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series wasn't the first model to wear the Black Series badge (that was the SLK 55 AMG Black Series), but it was arguably the one that made the Black Series concept stick. Based on the C209-generation CLK coupe, it featured massive fender flares, upgraded suspension and brakes, and a more powerful engine.
The naturally aspirated 6.2-liter V-8 was the same M156 unit used in the non-Black Series CLK 63 of the time, but output was increased from the standard car's 475 hp to 500 hp. Power is sent to the rear wheels through a 7-speed automatic transmission.
2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series on Jay Leno's Garage
The rear seats and power seat adjusters were removed to save weight, but otherwise the Black Series retained many of the creature comforts of other CLK models. With an extra helping of carbon fiber, of course.
Mercedes followed up this car with Black series versions of the SL-Class, C-Class Coupe, and SLS AMG. The latest is the 2021 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT Black Series, boasting 720 hp and a $326,050 price tag, including destination. Mercedes quotes 0-60 mph in 3.1 seconds, and in 2020 the Black Series lapped the Nürburgring in 6:43.61.
However, in a nod to tighter emissions standards, the AMG GT Black Series has a 4.0-liter twin-turbocharged V-8 rather than the larger naturally aspirated engine packed between the CLK's fenders. The latest Black Series model is much more powerful than its predecessor, but it's hard to beat the sound of that non-turbo V-8. Check out the full video for a taste.