Written by Mischa Arnosky.
Sometimes I wonder what executives at large car companies think when somebody does something newsworthy in one of their cars. I mean, there’s got to be somebody at the company that sets up a “Google Alert” for their brand and then analyzes the situation, right? And what if the news is, uh … less than legal?
I’m not talking about some hillbilly and his friends knocking over rural mailboxes while driving a “Google Alert: Cadillac Cimarron.” (Though that story would make me giggle.)
No. I’m thinking bigger. “Burt Reynolds” bigger.
According to a story on CNN, three men from Georgia just annihilated the previous Cannonball Run record time; the “race,” of course, created by automotive journalist Brock Yates, runs from New York City to Los Angeles. Yates wrote a movie about it, The Cannonball Run, which starred Burt Reynolds. Maybe you’ve seen it.
The team from Georgia, according to the story, did the deed in less than 29 hours in a modified Mercedes-Benz CL55 AMG. (Mercedes nerd code: W215.) The story didn’t mention it, but it looks like there’s a fender badge on the car, meaning it’s powered by a 5.4-liter supercharged V-8 producing just shy of 500 horsepower.
The guys averaged 98 mph, hit a top speed of 155 and utilized everything from radar detectors to radar jammers … to bedpans.
I can just imagine the conversation happening between two MB executives:
“Hey, three guys just drove from New York to California in 29 hours in one of our old W215s!”
“Nice! Isn’t that super-illegal and really dangerous?”
“Oh yeah …”
What can Mercedes do? By the numbers, the feat is incredible. Averaging 98 mph from coast-to-coast? It speaks to the durability of its vehicles and to the strength of that handcrafted, force-fed engine, especially considering the fact that the car had 115,000 miles on the odometer.
But, getting caught driving 158 mph on a public road will likely have you spending the evening in jail. Not to mention it’s selfish and reckless … and if you drive over a bottle cap while driving this fast, you’re probably dead.
If the group had failed, the decision would be easy for the company: ignore it, or release a statement that says something like, “Mercedes-Benz does not endorse illegal racing or the use of bedpans in its vehicles.”
But, the Merc triumphed. Not only did the guys in the CL55 beat previous records, they beat a record most recently set by a guy driving a BMW E39 M5. That’s a serious burn for BMW’s M … even if the “race” isn’t exactly sanctioned.
Mercedes has got to say something.
What car would you take on a Cannonball Run-type outing?