They don’t make them like they used to anymore. We always hear that from old-school car enthusiasts who prefer raw power and less electronics. And we can’t really contradict them on that. True, they don’t make them like they used to anymore. But do they make them faster today? A Mercedes-Benz SL 55 AMG from 2004 and the 2022 Mercedes-AMG SL 55 are here to set things straight.

Mat Watson from Carwow is sitting in a Mercedes-AMG SL 55. Not the new one, as you’d expect. But a 2004 version which is far from stock. It’s got a 5.5-liter supercharged V8 which delivered 500 PS (493 HP) and 700 Nm of torque (516 lb-ft) to the rear wheels through a five-speed automatic gearbox when the car drove through the factory gate. But that was then. Now it boasts 625 HP. But all that power has to move an almost 2-ton car. 1,885 kilograms (4,155 pounds), to be precise.

All these started from 90,000 pounds (the equivalent of $109,800) in the United Kingdom when new.

Through the side window of the almost 20-year old AMG, we get a glimpse of the new one. And the new one has been the victim of downsizing. It’s got a 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 with 476 PS (469 HP) and 700 Nm of torque (516 lb-ft) that has to move a car that is even heavier than the old guy standing beside it: 1,950 kilograms (4,299 pounds). All for a starting price of 147,475 pounds (almost $180,000).

What are the aces up the sleeve of the new SL 55 though? It’s got all-wheel drive and Launch Control, plus a nine-speed automatic gearbox.

On the dragstrip, with the Traction Control on, the new SL 55 simply flies off and the old one does not stand a chance.

The second one is a similar story. Third is better, but still far from winning for the 2004 convertible. The new one covered the quarter mile in 11.5 seconds. The older one needed 12.3 seconds to cover the same distance.

In a rolling race from 50 mph in automatic mode, it’s still the new kid in town that has his way. But what happens in manual mode? That’s for you to find out in the video below.

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Clarence Choe