Since Constantin Buschmann took over as CEO of Brabus following his father’s passing in April 2018, forward momentum at the world’s largest tuner has only increased.
The ‘One Second Wow!’ has become the watchword at Brabus, and at the second ever ‘Brabus Signature Night’ the hits just kept on coming. Last year’s debut event was impressive, but something of a Beta test for things to come. However, there was no doubt in the minds of the near 700 VIP guests, dealers and media that this year’s event, held in the spacious Jahrhunderthalle Bochum on June 29th was the real thing.
It was the night when Brabus put on a show equal in quality and intensity to anything I have ever experienced at a Mercedes press launch over the last 40 years. But unlike a press reveal of a new car in various guises and colours, here the cars just kept on coming, with a spread from the Brabus Six Star Classics 300SL Roadster and 280SE Convertible to the latest 800 XLP Adventure 6×6 and Brabus Rocket R 900. It all no doubt cost a bomb and involved much blood, sweat and tears, but the result was a night to remember.
As the Brabus crew are all fans of good music it was no surprise that every Mercedes and Porsche-based car on show was equipped with the top Burmester audio system. Here are some of the highlights from Bochum.
BRABUS SL 750 Bodo Buschmann Edition
A few days before the 1989 Frankfurt IAA Motor Show, Bodo Buschmann and I were on the small access road beside the Brabus building with their one-and-only R129 SL500 show car.
The car was due to make its public debut on the Brabus stand, close to where Mercedes was due to unveil the standard SL500 on their stand. Our task was to create some convincing action photos without risking the Show car on public roads.
In the end I managed to get far enough away from the short access road with a medium telephoto lens while Bodo drove the SL up and down at about 40km/h for some slow shutter speed panning shots.
The story and photos appeared in various international magazines alongside the Show reports weeks later. Things took a lot longer in the days when print media was king!
Fast foward to 29/30th June 2023 on show at the Brabus Signature event in Bochum is not for driving, but the significance of this special 1 of 25, ‘Bodo Buschmann Edition’ brings memories of that day in Bottrop all those years ago come flooding back.
That Frankfurt Show R129 SL500 was also the car on which the 18-inch three-spoke Brabus Monoblock II alloy wheel made its debut.
The new Brabus alloy wheel for the R232 is the 21st Century reincarnation of this iconic design, with a staggered arrangement of 21-inch in front and 22-inch at the rear, shod with 275/35ZR21 and 335/25ZR22 Continental SportContact 7 rubber.
The stock R232 SL63 AMG comes packing 585hp from the factory, while the naturally aspired 7.3S version of the ‘90s R129 Brabus SL ended up with 582hp in a package weighing around the same 1,950kg as today’s 4WD, tech-laden aluminium-bodied car.
This first Brabus iteration of the new SL has been ramped up to 750hp, which is relatively mild as we know how far Brabus can turn the wick up on the 4.0 litre bi-turbo V8 motor.
BRABUS Rocket R 900
Say 900hp and 1,000Nm of torque and any Brabus fan will instantly think of the V8 and V12 engines from the world’s largest Mercedes tuner.
These numbers are a very big deal for the second stage of the Brabus tuning and personalisation programme for the Porsche 992 Turbo S presented to the 700 strong crowd of VIPs, dealers and members of the press at this year’s Brabus Signature Night.
The Brabus Rocket 900 R is a work of art in both looks and engineering. Form definitely follows function here in the way that the wind-tunnel developed aerodynamics have been parlayed into a unique and distinctive Brabus house style that the Porsche world has never seen the likes of before.
The Brabus front spoiler with its big intake ducts develops more downforce than the factory’s active chin spoiler, while the 1973 Carrera 2.8 RSR Group 4 racecar-derived full-width ducktail spoiler does not produce as much downforce as the active factory rear wing.
This means that while the total downforce number is not as high as the standard Turbo S, the relatively greater frontal downforce produces a better overall aerodynamic balance for the inherently tail-heavy Turbo S.
Behind the large intakes new pipework channels ram air to the factory radiators as well as the PCCB brakes. Bespoke carbon-fibre wheel arch liners with wind-tunnel derived vents work with the distinctive alloy wheels to smooth airflow within the front wheel arches and produce a venturi effect via exit ducts to enhance laminar flow past the doors towards the larger rear intakes that feed the intercoolers.
The key to gaining increased power from Porsche 3,745cc twin-turbo flat-six lies within the turbochargers. With years of forced aspiration expertise Brabus are well placed to completely re-engineer the VTG turbos, and no single component in the turbochargers from turbine wheels to the uprated bearings was left unmodified. A bespoke exhaust system incorporating the mandatory particulate filter was created to reduce back-pressure.
So is this the ultimate Porsche Turbo S? As an overall package whose looks and performance stand out from the crowd, the answer is a resounding “Yes!”
Unveiled at last year’s Brabus Signature Night, the Crawler is a limited edition, no-holds-barred ultimate off-road vehicle built to showcase Brabus’ design and engineering ability.
Where Ferrari and Porsche have their track use only FXX and 935, Brabus decided to capitalise on their reputation as the world’s most renowned tuner and customiser of the iconic Mercedes G-Class to create an off-road vehicle in the same vein.
As this was an engineering concept and a pure off-roader, things like noise, vibration and harshness (NVH) could be ignored and full attention paid to excellence in the chassis, drivetrain and engine.
The bespoke tubular steel chassis was designed using CAD and FEM to optimum strength and torsional stiffness. The massive reinforced beam axles are from the Brabus XLP conversion, arranged in portal fashion for increased ground clearance. The gearing was also adjusted for the massive wheels and tyres that give the car its superior ground clearance.
Power comes from the proven Brabus Rocket motor, which means 4.5 litres of twin-turbo V8 making 900hp and 1,250Nm of torque. With a full tank and all liquids on board the Crawler tips the scales at 2,064kg, a good 497kg less than a G63 AMG, so its straight-line performance is totally mind-blowing for such a vehicle. For the record 100km/h takes just 3.4 sec, and Vmax is electronically limited to just 160km/h.
To be frank you would not want to go any faster since there is no windscreen. Brabus provides goggles and headsets so that occupants can communicate over the thundering NASCAR grade V8 soundtrack and the veritable hurricane rushing through the open cabin!
My experience of driving the Crawler enthusiastically up and down an old airfield runway is best described as visceral, spiritually energising and absurd, all at the same time.
This is one hell of a crazy vehicle, but if you are one of the 15 lucky buyers to have an open desert nearby and 749,000 EUR (plus tax) to spend on a non-road-legal adrenalin pump, then there is probably no equal.
The gentleman seen here hanging off a production Crawler is none other than the irrepressible Nico Leonard, wristwatch guru and YouTube star from Belfast in Ireland.
Nico already has a few expensive cars in his garage and would love to have a Brabus G 800. However, he will have to sell a lot more watches to realise this dream!
Brabus 800 XLP Adventure 6×6
It was just a matter of time before the 6×6 fever reached the updated G-Class, and here it is with full Brabus treatment and 800hp modelled by professional banker and fashion queen, Nadine Maria Wachter from Zurich.
Brabus 930 GT
The sleek AMG GT has been around since 2018 and no longer turns heads. However, the car on show in Bochum wore Brabus 930 badges, hinting that development of the Brabus 4.5 litre bi-turbo V8 is still edging upwards. Watch this space
Brabus 600 Range Rover
The diversification to other prestige marques has stood Brabus in good stead, especially as many Brabus fans also have Porsche and Range Rover cars in their stables.
The long wheelbase Range Rover on show here had the full treatment with an uprated 600hp V8 motor, plush mint green leather interior and subtle body styling and alloys.