• Dec 28, 2010
2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG goes Back to the Future – Click above for high-res image gallery

No matter how happy our childhoods were, most of us have ended up with at least a few regrets that stick out in our mind. For whatever reason, random happenings tend to stick out as pivotal events in our life's chronology. Swinging at that ninth inning pitch in the dirt in little league. Not having the nerve to ask Suzy Creamcheese to prom. Being the last to the party with the Flock of Seagulls haircut. Sometimes, things that shouldn't be significant at all become just that – lodging in our cranial craws like grains of sand in an oyster. All of which explains how I came to find myself sheepishly appealing to the Mercedes-Benz PR team for an SLS AMG to drive to the 25th Anniversary showing of Back to the Future.

Allow me to explain.


2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Photos copyright ©2010 Chris Paukert / AOL

Most of us were fortunate enough to grow up with moms and dads who looked out for our best interests. Mine did exactly that. As a young 'un, I desperately wanted a dirt bike for Christmas, but instead, I received a violin. (Despite being half-Asian and born to a pair of professional classical musicians, this Yuletide substitution somehow managed to come as a complete surprise). Hindsight shows that Mom and Dad were on solid ground here, but most everyone I've talked to still carries around small memories from childhood like this where we felt shorted by the adults in our life – rightfully or wrongly.

As a youngster, I didn't get to watch much television, let alone see many movies. It was ingrained in me that sitting in front of a screen for longer than brief periods would not only rot my brain, it'd eventually degrade my vision to the point that I would go blind. Seriously. This, of course, neatly explains why I now spend most of my day working on a computer. It also clarifies why I wasn't allowed to catch a double-bill matinee of Ghostbusters and Back to the Future as a child.

2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG side view2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG front view2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG rear view

How's that, you ask? After all, Ghostbusters was released on in June 8, 1984, and Back to the Future didn't come out until over a year later on July 3, 1985 (my birthday, coincidentally). One of the local theaters in my childhood hometown of Cleveland, Ohio had brought the Stay Puft crew back for a special sci-fi comedy twin feature. And while two of my friends were cleared to go and one of their parents had agreed to drive, my mother would only reluctantly concede to let me see one film.

This Judgment of Solomon-style parenting wasn't surprising, as sitting through a double-feature would surely be enough to fatigue my virgin eyes to the point they'd crust over and fall out somewhere in the middle of the second film. I actually remember picturing my desiccated eyeballs cascading downward in slow motion and landing with a thud on the slanted, sticky floor before rolling into the nether regions of the theater to join the lost coins, errant Milk Duds and dozens of other stray eyeballs belonging to children with less responsible parents. Had I been older, I probably would've finagled a way to see both films, but I wasn't even ten years yet, and at that point I was still a Pretty Good Kid™ – respectful and tantrum-free.

I chose to see Ghostbusters.

2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG headlight2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG side detail

Nevermind that I had actually seen it before. Why was I going to see the same movie again? Truth be told, I didn't know too much about Back to the Future, and being a car crazy youth, I was endlessly fascinated by the movie's 1959 Cadillac Miller-Meteor ambulance-turned-Ecto-1 (not to mention the idea of living in a repurposed big city fire station). And since I so rarely went to the cinema, I must've figured that I'd better not risk the experience on a bad flick. At least that's how I rationalize it to myself now.

Getting to the theater a bit early on that rainy day, I can still clearly recall standing inside the hallway and peering into the theater in which Marty McFly was doing what he could to rectify the time-space continuum. I arrived just as Michael J. Fox spectacularly reemerged in 1985, crashing his iconic gullwing DeLorean DMC12 into Hill Valley's boarded-up town square theater, awakening the wino asleep on a bench. In that moment, I not only deeply regretted making a second date with Sigourney Weaver, I sparked a lifelong fascination with gullwing doors.

2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG headlight2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG side vent2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG wheel detail2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG rear wing

I didn't actually see the rest of Back to the Future for a couple of years, eventually watching it at a friend's sleepover. But for some reason, as silly as it sounds, never seeing the movie in the theater always bothered me – as if I had a small but significant blemish on my childhood résumé, missing out on a phenomenon that everyone else my age experienced. I never figured that I'd get the chance to rectify this omission, but thanks to some eerily coordinated timing with the film's return to theaters and Mercedes launching its own four-wheeled bit of gullwing'd nostalgia in the same year, I had my opening.

It's at this point that I should mention that even though Benz's SLS AMG is only about a year old, the car and I have a fair bit of history. We've hot-lapped Laguna Seca and the coastal California roads around Monterey together. We've high-tailed it across Mexico at triple-digit velocities with the Federales clearing the way as we retraced the route of the Carrera Panamericana. In other words, we've come to know, trust and respect each other rather well – and who better to take to the theater on such an occasion than an old friend?

2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG engine2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG interior2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG seats2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG speedometer

And so it came to pass on a late Fall Saturday that my girlfriend and I drove out to the Detroit suburb of Livonia accompanied by a throaty, 563-horsepower, 6.2-liter soundtrack to take in a digitally remastered 25th anniversary print of Back to the Future at the AMC Theatres 20. Ideally, I would've returned back to the same moviehouse of my childhood, but unfortunately, all of Cleveland didn't have a scheduled showing, and besides, the original theater had been turned into one of those massive discount shoe warehouse stores years ago.

We made a point to get to the AMC early – not just to take the photos, but also to let other theater patrons inspect and appreciate Affelterbach's masterwork. It was amazing to see how many moviegoers got the connection, their faces lighting up as the SLS' gullwing doors soared skyward. Letting everyone see how the doors worked, feel the snugness of the red leather seats and gawk at its jewelry-like 240-mph speedo elicited giggles, whoops, hasty cell phone camera snaps and all-around gushing.

2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG rear 3/4 view

Interestingly, a handful of people outside the cinema still talked with a perceptible air of wonder in their voice about DeLorean's stainless steel coupe. Indeed, it's remarkable how Back to the Future has managed to lodge what can otherwise only be called a failed and not terribly sporting piece of machinery into our collective consciousness. More remarkably, it did so long after the DeLorean factory lines in Dunmurry, Ireland had gone silent – production ceased in late 1982 and Doc Brown didn't show off his plutonium-powered time traveler until the summer of 1985. The mania continues to the present day – the DeLorean Motor Company is reborn and churning out restored and remanufactured DMC-12s in Humble, Texas. It's the close of 2010 and we're still mobbing stores for tangentially related memorabilia, for goodness sake.

Twenty-five years from now, will the SLS AMG enjoy the same sort of soft spot in our hearts that the DeLorean does? It's a truly special car, but I doubt it. The graceful, ageless beauty that is the original 1954 300SL will still have the corner on gullwing memories in Mercedes lore.

Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG at BTTF

Well, most of them, at any rate. Even better than watching everyone's faces as they fawned over the SLS was the chance to hear them excitedly utter things like, "Man, where were you when I was a kid?" One mother actually said, "Thank you, I think you just made my son's year."

The Benz may not actually be a time machine like the one popularized by Robert Zemeckis and the fantastic Mr. Fox, but improbably enough, fashioning new memories for complete strangers with Mercedes' gullwing helped make peace with my own childhood. And for that, the SLS AMG didn't need roads.


2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG 2010 Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG

Photos copyright ©2010 Chris Paukert / AOL


I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.


    • 1 Second Ago
  • 21 Comments
      • 4 Years Ago
      I recently purchased a new C63 AMG, as I fell in love with the sound, performance and seats (went and drove it after reading AB's review!) - and it shares a good bit of DNA with the SLS. Unfortunately, the latter remains out of reach for a few more years until my daughter finishes college. The next best thing? I made a ride in the SLS a contingent before agreeing to sign for the C63 at my dealer. Worth every penny!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Completely unexpected read and definitely unique. One of the best things I've seen on AB all year, which is really saying something.

      Now, why couldn't you have been at my theater?
      • 4 Years Ago
      Can there be anything more stupid than gullwing doors ?
        • 4 Years Ago
        Why do you think that they are stupid? I think they add unique look to a lot of cars and that they are a good use of space.
        • 4 Years Ago
        He's just one of those idiots that puts factory gullwing doors in the same category as aftermarket Lambo doors.

        I'm also willing to bet that he's one of those people that has the common misconception of how gullwing doors will hit a car or wall next to it when you open them.
        • 4 Years Ago
        Your face
        • 4 Years Ago
        your face......LOL

        Awesome,,
      • 4 Years Ago
      Yeah, nice article, Mr. Paukert. And hey, we share a birthday! (As well as a somewhat sheltered childhood.)
      • 4 Years Ago
      The question is if there was a remake of Back to the Future, will the AMG replace the DeLorean?
      • 4 Years Ago
      reminds me of 40 years ago when I could have stolen an original gullwing because someone had butchered an engine swap. Been kicking me ever since.
      • 4 Years Ago
      I guess Ill be the one who must bring out a new DeLorean since no one has the balls to come out with a teal modern interpretation
      • 4 Years Ago
      Two things:

      1. Back to the Future is my earliest concrete theater memory. I was five. I loved it then, I love it now. Somehow, though, I wasn't moved to go see the 25th anniversary re-release in theaters.

      2. As much as I appreciate the engineering and the concept behind the SLS, I just think it's an ugly car. For me, the greenhouse is a shade too far back. The original 300SL Gullwing had a balance to its proportions that has been pushed to a comical extreme by the SLS. Would I say no to one, or even a ride in one? Of course not; don't be silly. But given a prodigious discretionary budget to spend on automotive playthings, I'm not sure it makes the cut. Maybe I'd change my mind after that free ride.

      Nice article.
      • 4 Years Ago
      great read, and I loved the ending.... true to kids, just revving the engine while driving by as they look on would make their day. every-time i see a Ferrari drive by i look at the driver and i expect him to downshift and give me an aural symphony i deserve to hear. these cars are for show (not show off), i want to see them go, hear them purr and just enjoy the site of them on the road...

      I'm a car journo too, and whenever i have a special car under me, and see a bunch of enthusiasts pointing, i make it a point to interact with them and make their day. the car is not mine, i will not pretend it is, but what i do is give them the chance to enjoy it a little more than they would have had a gazillionaire been driving by...

      to those skeptics up there, Gullwing doors, Delorean, and Back to the Future are always mentioned in the same paragraph when enthusiasts are talking... you can't beat it... butterfly doors from the Murcielago are a different thing, and the aftermarket scissor doors should be banned....
      • 4 Years Ago
      It's really great that you guys take the time to share the cars you drive with others. Young people just don't care about cars as much thes days and everyones gotta do their part. I reckon you made a bunch of new car guys that day. The great writeup and pics is just the icing on the cake. Thanks
        • 4 Years Ago
        young ppl dont care about cars??? actually this is true...and i apologize on behalf of my generation of texters that posses car keys and are too lazy to signal a proper lane change.

        i on the other hand have saved up my money since i was 4 to end up buying 92 nissan 240sx...im 24 now and i still have that car...and i plan on keeping it with me till sleep in the dirt. i also own a genesis coupe 2.0t (im a sucker for rwd) and ive driven that car cross country between los angeles to washington d.c., twice, took it off road to slide in the dirt, driven it through the east coast blizzard of 2009/2010, and caught up with quite a few porsches, corvettes, bmws, and nissan z's (only in the corners, i literally get destroyed on the straights...)

        young ppl dont care about cars??? and old ppl dont care about the future (just kidding :P). i probably wrote more than you care but im done now...happy new years!
      • 4 Years Ago
      Cool article.

      To the writer: You mention you're half-Asian, that's great, but which country in Asia? There are quite a few:
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Asian_countries_and_territories

      I'm half North American and half African.

      And now back to discussing a beautiful car and one of my favourite movies.


      • 4 Years Ago
      That was very sweet of Mercedes Benz to allow you an expensive treat for what genuinely sounds like a glimpse into a pretty terrible/horrible childhood.
    • Load More Comments