Normally, classic cars emerge over time, as appreciation grows for their attributes. But in the case of the new Mercedes AMG GT C Roadster, we have a brand-new car with all the hallmarks of a classic ride that we can appreciate without waiting.
This was the case when BMW introduced the classically proportioned Henrik Fisker-penned Z8 roadster in 1999.
While the Z8 was aggressively art deco in design, the AMG-GT C achieves its stature while employing entirely contemporary motifs. The new "C" version of the AMG-GT slots in the line between the regular model and the racy "R" coupe.
The C Roadster incorporates sexier wider fenders to create a curvy appearance absent from the trimmer base version. The tail spreads an extra 2.2 inches in width, for a more planted stance. The key to such add-ons is to employ restraint, explained designer Vitalis Enns.
"You would like cars to be like architecture, lasting hundreds of years," he said. Chasing fashion is deadly. "Fashionable? In three years time; goodbye," he stated.
Decorating a car with creased lines is an example of fashion, according to Enns. Instead, he works with surface volumes. "Volumes are positive, the are the more healthy surface," he insists. This is where convex surfaces expand from the sheetmetal to create the appearance of bulging muscle.
"I need a muscle. That's all I need. I don't need a line," he concluded. And indeed, the GT C Roadster is free of fashionable cluttering lines, leaving only timeless proportions that will see this car inhabiting the garages of style leaders for the foreseeable future.
You know what else is timeless? V8 horsepower, that's what. And the GT C Roadster has that in abundance, at 550, thanks to its tuneful 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. Incredibly, the base GT Roadster actually feels slightly mild in comparison, even though it has an impressive 469 horsepower, though the 0-60 mph acceleration time is only 0.2 seconds quicker, at 3.7 seconds.
The GT C also gets cool technical tricks, like rear-wheel steering for quicker handling response, and bigger front brakes for shorter stopping. These are nice improvements, but their advantages aren't quite as apparent as the extra horsepower is.
A change that thrill seekers will appreciate is the GT C Roadster's standard AMG Performance exhaust, which automatically bypasses the muffler during spirited driving to provide the audible feedback drivers appreciate.
The sound is enthusiastic without verging into the area of over-the-top faking it, as the Jaguar F-Type does. The Jaguar might fool you at first, but you can quickly tire of its hysterical insistence that you really are the best ever.
The GT C Roadster also doesn't fake it when clouds decide to rain on your party. The car's thickly insulated folding soft keeps the cabin whisper-quiet inside when it is up, and it can reach that dry state in just 11 seconds from stowed while driving as fast as 30 mph, so it can be raised or lowered any time in city traffic.
This compares, for example, to a more leisurely 19 seconds for the Lamborghini Huracan Spyder's roof operation time. This is helpful for protecting the Roadster's nappa leather upholstery and Burmester audio system from the ravages of unwanted moisture.
The amazing AMG GT C Roadster hits showrooms in the fall. Pricing hasn't been announced, but if you have to ask...