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SEMA 2008 show report: Mercedes GLK

Tue, 04 Nov 2008 00:00:00 -0800

By Ben Whitworth

First Official Pictures

04 November 2008 10:30

Mercedes set an all but impossible challenge for tuners at this year’s SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) show in Las Vegas – to turn its gut-wrenchingly ugly GLK off-roader, which makes its formal American debut at the show, into something desirable and cool. The best four submissions – the Brabus Widestar, Urban Whip, Pikes Peak Rally Racer and Rock Crawler - were displayed at SEMA. And presumably scared a lot of showgoers senseless.

Quite. Let’s start with the Brabus Widestar. With its flared wheelarches, intimidating body kit, LED lights, inch-thick black paint and 21-inch wheels it certainly looks purposeful, if nothing else. And a tweaked 3.0-litre turbo diesel with 258bhp means it should be on the right side of brisk. Brabus are serious about putting it into production too.

The Rock Crawler from the self-deprecatingly named Legendary Motorcar Company is a mobile skateboard park, complete with a Grinch Winch to tow boarders up to 30mph. The winch, which can be mounted front or rear, is complemented by a detachable ramp system, side and roof-mounted grinding rails and a custom push bar.

Maybe RENNtech’s Pikes Peak Rally Racer will help you decide. It’s a stripped out racer with vast 412mm front and 356mm rear discs, a 50:50 weight distribution, tweaked 350bhp 3.5-litre V6 and a bespoke electric hybrid system to boost torque and compensate for the effects of high altitude on the engine’s performance. Oh and don’t forget its modest aerodynamic kit…

But surely the prize for the most bizarre GLK variant should go to Boulevard’s Urban Whip. The choptop Mercedes has a strengthened chassis to retain the car (engineering) integrity, and it rides on 26inch alloy wheels. And to ensure people car hear you as well as see you coming, the coupe is fitted with a 5700Watt sound system.

SEMA showgoers, visitors to the Los Angeles motor show - where the four cars will also be displayed – and those that log onto Merc’s North American website ( can vote for their favourite model, with the winner announced on 2 December. If we had to chose it would be the Brabus, simply because it should be fast enough to outrun the taste police. Hopefully. There’s no mention of the prize…

By Ben Whitworth