How To Make A Used Mercedes Sound Like A Pagani Zonda

If you haven’t experienced a Mercedes V12, let me briefly explain how you drive one in 4 steps:

  1. Accelerate briskly to 60 mph.
  2. Press accelerator pedal firmly to the carpet.
  3. Blink
  4. Decelerate from 150 mph

They are cars that will hot massage your back and thighs while you hot massage the rear tyres, making it very easy to get a driving ban. Whether it’s in the S-Class limousine, the CL-Class cruiser or the SL-Class sports convertible, Mercedes’ legendary ‘600’ cars with their V12 engines have everything you could want from a power unit apart from fuel economy, but where’s the fun in that?

After the orgasmic sound of the starter motor has finished and the revs have settled to just below 800rpm, you have to remind yourself that the engine is actually on. It is a bizarre feeling knowing you have so much power and torque at your disposal but with so little drama and noise in the cabin.

Affordable luxury – The S600

OK, now let me introduce to you the brutal Pagani Zonda. Sitting next to an S-Class, they are like chalk and cheese. It is one of the craziest and best sounding cars ever thanks to the above-mentioned engine. I have lost whole afternoons just listening to videos of them on YouTube. But what if I told you that you could have that iconic, high-revving V12 sound in a car that costs the same as a used Honda Civic? Here’s how to do it:


Step 1: Acquire a Mercedes S600, SL600, or CL600.

The key part of sounding like a Zonda is having the engine of a Zonda. Well, sort of.
A Pagani Zonda uses a modified 7.0 and later a 7.3-litre Mercedes-AMG V12, naturally aspirated. You can’t get the race-inspired Zonda engine cheaply, but you can get the next best thing – the 6.0-litre Mercedes ‘M120’ engine (that was actually used, untuned in the first Zonda, the ‘C12’), or the 5.8-litre ‘M137’ engine.

Mercedes’ iconic V12 unit

This style of engine came in the Mercedes S600, SL600, and CL600 from 1992 to 2002, and as we’ve showed you in the past, these brick-built cars can be found super cheap for well under £5,000, giving you a solid example of what Mercedes was capable of back in the good old days when they were more focused on keeping their customers happy, rather than their accountants.

Step 2: Get Equal Length Long Tube Headers

This part is completely custom, but then, this article is about how to make your car sound like one of the rarest and most head-turning hypercars on the planet, not how to fit generic lowering springs to your Ford Fiesta. There’s only one company who currently manufactures these exact headers, but they’re in Japan, and they don’t have a website (useful). Fortunately, they do have a Facebook page, Technical Garage Sasaki, and they will ship you over a custom-built stainless steel or titanium exhaust system if you’re willing to let go of a couple thousand of your hard earned pounds. Alas, I actually don’t know the exact price of the exhaust, I’m simply estimating based on how much similar systems for other makes and models cost.

Get your special sock ready… here’s what the manifolds look like:


Of course, you don’t need to have them fitted in Japan. There will be plenty of independent garages who would love to undertake a project like this.

Step 3: DRIVE IT!

Here’s a video of what the system looks like, and how the insane system sounds. Turn your sound up, brace your eardrums.

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