Click above for a high-res image of the Carlsson Aigner CK55 RS Rascasse

It doesn't seem to be the optimal time to be producing high-end custom luxury cars, but Carlsson is pressing forward anyway and will introduce its third model in cooperation with leather company Etienne Aigner at the Geneva Motor Show next month. Carlsson previously unveiled the Aigner CK65 Eau Rouge coupe at the Frankfurt Motor Show in 2007 and later the Aigner CK65 RS Blanchimont that took aim at the luxury limousine segment. The latest model, the Aigner CK55 RS Rascasse, is named for the second turn at Monaco and takes cues from both previous models including the paint scheme of the Eau Rouge and the limousine theme of the Blanchimont. Carlsson has converted the seven-seater to have just two rear thrones, leaving room for such amenities as an integrated refrigerator and a custom entertainment system with dual eight-inch screens and surround sound audio system. Of course, Aigner leather covers the seats, dash, door panels and center console. The exterior gets Carlsson's full body kit and three-piece forged wheels, and the 5.5L V8 is boosted to 456 bhp and 472 lb-ft torque. Full details on the CK55 RS Rascasse can be found in the press release after the jump.

[Source: Carlsson]

PRESS RELEASE:

Exclusive automobile manufacturer Carlsson Autotechnik GmbH, and the luxury leather brand Etienne Aigner AG are proud to present the third model to emerge from their co-operative venture. The Carlsson Aigner® CK55 RS Rascasse, based on the Mercedes-Benz GL 500, makes its world premiere at the Geneva Auto Salon. The Rascasse will be an exclusive limited edition of 20 cars.

Distinguished Exterior Design

The star qualities of this car are obvious at a glance. The striking two-tone paintwork, a hallmark of the Carlsson Aigner® range, confirms that the Carlsson Aigner® CK55 RS Rascasse is no ordinary luxury car. Several coats of perfectly smooth, hand-rubbed wine-red metallic paint have been applied to just below the window line. Above this, rich black paint takes over with a thin, black coachline softening the transition between two shades. The visual marraige of these two contrasting yet complementary colours imparts a regal air to the Rascasse. Adding to that presence is the Carlsson Aigner body styling kit consisting of wider wheel arches visually linked by side skirts. The front wings carry illuminated Aigner logos. The door rubbing strips are colour-coded in black, which visually lengthens the car. The nose of the Rascasse has been made more imposing with a new bonnet carrying larger power domes. Under this, a new larger front grill and sub-grilles feature chromed wire mesh. Additional driving and fog lights are set into the bumpers and LED daytime running lights are integrated into lower edge of the deeper front apron extension. All these elements give the Rascasse a much stronger face, reinforcing its already commanding presence. The rear valence incorporates cut-outs for the four chromed exit pipes of the freer-flowing sports exhaust system. This is optimised for both lower backpressure and a throaty V8 soundtrack. Apart from enhancing the look of the car, the front spoiler, side skirts and rear valence extensions are designed to help reduce aerodynamic drag and lift. All these parts are made from PU-RIM, the flexible material used by OE manufactures like Mercedes-Benz for their production bumpers. PU is much more expensive than glass-fibre in small runs, but is lighter and has good low speed bump resilience. It also requires a much larger tooling investment, demonstrating Carlsson's commitment to OE quality levels.

The 5,461cc, 48-valve, DOHC V8 motor has 388hp (285 kW) and 530Nm of torque in standard form. Carlsson's proven conversion for this engine uses a free-flow exhaust system with metal catalytic converters, gas-flowed cylinder-heads, high-lift camshafts and a remapped ECU to boost output to 456 hp (335 kW) with 640Nm of torque. Thus endowed, the Carlsson Aigner® CK55 RS Rascasse is the most powerful normally-aspirated GL in the world, accelerating from 0-100km/h hundred in just 5.9 seconds. This compares to 6.5 sec for the standard GL500.

To help transmit this extra power and torque to the road, Carlsson use their three-piece 3/11 UL forged alloy wheels with highly polished outer rims in 11J x 23-inch size with 305/30ZR23 tyres. The forging process creates a very light but exceptionally strong alloy wheel that helps to counter the increased unsprung weight of the larger diameter wheels and tyres. The Carlsson electronic lowering kit, C-Tronic® Suspension, drops the ride height of the Airmatic suspension by 40mm. In combination with the wider wheels and tyres, this delivers superior handling and roadholding characteristics.

An abundance of precious materials

Colour matching is one of the keystones of the fashion industry. Where Carlsson elevates the mechanicals to new heights, Aigner demonstrates the art of haute couture with the plush interior of the Rascasse. Picking up the dark red shade from the bodywork, Aigner uses the finest hides and Alcantara in this colour to cover the seats, dashtop, door panels and centre console. The headlining is Alcantara, stitched in a bespoke pattern.
Total comfort for rear compartment passengers means sumptuous seats and plenty of space in all directions. For that reason, Carlsson and Aigner decided that the seven-seater configuration should be ditched in favour of just two individual rear seats. Supporting this hedonistic concept is an integrated fridge in a compartment between the rear seats. Drinks can be served in bespoke hand-blown Carlsson-Aigner glasses also stored in this compartment. The comprehensive Rear Entertainment System is centred around the eight-inch screens integrated into the headrests of the front seats. A surround sound audio system provides the soundtrack as well as just music if you just want to relax on a journey.

Rascasse – A Sting in the Tail

Carlsson, manufacturer of special cars based on Mercedes Benz models, and high fashion leather goods manufacturer, Aigner, are proud to present their third unique limited edition model in the short space of one and a half years. In September 2007, this dynamic duo introduced the Carlsson Aigner® CK65 "Eau Rouge", based on the CL-Coupé. This was followed in July 2008 by the Carlsson Aigner® CK65 RS "Blanchimont", a car to fill the obvious void between the S-Class and the Maybach. The Carlsson Aigner® CK55 RS "Rascasse" completes the family, and is offered at a basic price of 228,500 euros.

As with the first two automobiles designed by the Carlsson and Aigner team, the new model is also named after a legendary racetrack bend. But unlike the Eau Rouge and the Blanchimont, the Rascasse name does not origin from the racetrack Spa-Francorchamps. Rascasse is the second last bend of the Monaco Grand Prix Circuit as well as a famous street café located by the track. In fact, the Rascasse name originally comes from the French red rascasse, a member of the Scorpion fish family that is an essential ingredient in Bouillabaisse, the most famous French gourmet soup. A perfect blend of performance, speed and breeding, the Carlsson Aigner Rascasse is also red, tasty, sporting, and carries a sting in its tail.