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by Jay Traugott
Is Mercedes-Benz getting cold feet?
There's an old rumor in the German auto industry. Supposedly the heads of Mercedes-Benz and BMW made a gentleman's agreement with Porsche years ago never to build a true 911 fighter. All agreed the 911 was to remain the quintessential and classic Germans sports car. Over the years, BMW seems to have kept their promise as their mainstream two-door sports car, the Z4, faces off against the 911's younger sibling, the Boxster.
When Mercedes launched the SLK-Class back in 1996, it was immediately clear it was no 911 competitor, but rather a more expensive MX-5 Miata (it has since evolved into something more). The SLS AMG, you could say, does pose a threat to the 911 Turbo, but up until now, Mercedes has shied away from building a proper 911 Carrera competitor. Then we got word and spy shots that the suits at Mercedes changed their minds and decided to throw that so-called "agreement" out the window. The temptation to get into the premium sports car market was too strong and the potential profits too great to ignore.
With a supposed launch date of 2015, the SLC could be the most serious competition the 911 has ever faced. However, a new report coming from Auto Motor und Sport is now claiming that the project may be called off entirely. The supposed reason is that the SLC is simply "too expensive." Unfortunately the article wasn't clear about whether it's "too expensive" to develop or "too expensive" to produce and still return a profit. The SLC, as we could clearly see from the spy shots, was front-engined and resembled the larger and more powerful SLS AMG. Until we receive further clarification from Mercedes sources, we'll take the German publication's claim as a rumor.