A chrome wrapping on a car can be seen as the ultimate expression of automotive narcissism. But in the case of a Mercedes sold this evening, the car is not a wrap, and the gesture is the opposite of vain.
This one of one 2004 Mercedes SL600 RENNtech “Chrome Edition” roadster was guaranteed to gain a lot of attention during the first day of Barrett-Jackson’s Palm Beach auction. The mirror shine is not the result of a cheap-ish sticker. Instead, every exterior piece of this former SEMA show car was dipped in chrome (even the taillights have a mirror tint.) Still, it was not the car that was the star, but the hero who was standing beside it.
United States Marine Corps corporal Michael Jernigan lost his vision after roadside bomb attack in Iraq. He was at the auction to share his story and introduce Brittani, his guide dog.
Brittani was trained at Southeastern Guide Dogs — a non-profit organization that receives no government subsidies. Their Paws for Patriots program provides guide dogs to veterans who are visually impaired, Veteran Assistance Dogs to those suffering from post traumatic stress disorder, and place Therapy dogs at military medical hospitals to share their affection and encouragement to soldiers as they recover from injuries. Florida businessman Doug Mansfield believes in this program, so he donated his ultra bling SL600 to be auctioned for Paws for Patriots.
This Mercedes is not just a shiny face. The auction lists the car as a SL600 with a twin turbo 6.0-liter V12 engine. Yes, we realize that is the displacement for the SL 65 AMG, but that really doesn’t matter. This chrome king will blow the doors off the AMG because RENNtech added new mapping to the engine and transmission control units. It makes a total of 650 hp (46 hp more than the SL 65) and a claimed top speed of over 200 mph. The car also has an upgraded suspension, enhanced axle shafts, and 15.2-inch 8-piston front brakes and 13-inch rear brakes.
The roadster had a final price of $155,000, which all goes to the charity as Barrett-Jackson is charging no auction fees on this car. An ultra-low mileage 2004 SL600 is worth about $50k on its best day. So all that shine, the extra RENNtech goodies, and just plain old good karma pushed up the price of this Mercedes.
While the sight of a chrome car can often speak volumes about its owner, everyone involved with this one can be summed up in one word: hero.