Sport Cars

Project presentation: The viral Ponton 63 AMG that broke the internet

It was one of those hot summer afternoons, I took a walk around Knightsbridge to spot some old fashioned cars. As they say in England: good weather produces good cars. I met a few well-known car spotters and swapped notes to see what nice cars there were in town that day.

This is the part of London where G63s, Cullinans and Urus are ignored by car watchers because there are just too many of them. Anything below this caliber is also ignored. When I heard the unmistakable sound of an M156 engine, I decided to leave my friends who were all waiting for a McLaren Senna to start while the owner finished his coffee.

To my surprise, I couldn’t find the vehicle that was making this noise. I knew for sure that it was the 6.2 liter V8 AMG engine, but there was nothing to suggest that sound. Some cars were equipped with this engine, an SLS AMG would be a beautiful sight, but the most popular car with this engine is the W204 C63 AMG. There was light traffic ahead, but nothing familiar, just a few Flying Spurs and the usual BMW i7 chauffeur cars.

As I turned to go back to the McLaren Senna, the traffic started moving and the sound came to life again. At this point I was determined to solve the mystery.

“Show yourself M156!” I thought to myself, as if a hand signal was the next sign. Then a black taxi appeared, very black. But upon closer inspection, I realized that it wasn’t a black taxi at all, but a Mercedes-Benz Ponton dressed all in black. By full black I mean darkness, see for yourself.

Fast forward, I got my camera ready and made a few videos that later took the internet by storm and went viral every time someone posted them. By the end of this week, this all-black pontoon had been viewed over 20 million times on social media. At this point it became my mission to find the car as my next project exposure feature.

Finding the owner was easy, the internet has made it easier today. The company that built it was tagged multiple times in my post and we managed to set a filming date and explanation. What followed next was a story I never expected, the most orthodox approach to a project car.

Fill up your cup of tea and listen to what the owner has to say…

The company that built it is called Xtreem Motors and is based in Mitcham, a small village in southwest London. Ivo, the owner, walked me through the project and although I didn’t take any notes, it’s hard to forget how the whole thing came together.

It all started in 2020 when the Corona lockdowns were at their peak, car prices had plummeted and the whole world was in a state of great panic. Ivo had purchased an old, rusty Mercedes-Benz Ponton for next to nothing and had to build something out of it. With no work coming into the workshop due to Covid, he decided to devote himself to a personal project.

Ivo began life on the streets of London after emigrating from Bulgaria. After growing up in his father’s workshop, he was able to monetize his acquired skills as a street mechanic in London in the early 2000s. He eventually saved enough to set up his garage business just like his father, and at the time of writing he has spent the last 23 years building one of the largest car and motorcycle specialist centers in south west London. I quote him: “…I can’t remember not having dirty, oily hands as a child, I was always in the garage with my dad.”

So what happens if a large garage sits empty during lockdown? Mechanics can’t stay at home all day, even if the world collapses, they will always find things to repair or make. Ivo was traveling from London, where a young lad urgently needed cash for his 2012 Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG Coupé (W204).

The boy had advertised it for around £25,000, but Ivo negotiated the price down to £17,000 for a quick deal. It was a beautiful white C63 AMG Coupé with a performance package and classic red Nappa leather interior. He arrived with some cash as a deposit, the remaining amount was to be paid by bank transfer. But when he arrived at the boy’s house, things suddenly changed.

The boy came to the window covered like a mummy, refused to open the door and told Ivo to throw the money into a basket. Ivo, now a little confused, took a step back, but it dawned on him that the young lad simply didn’t want to get infected. So he dropped the cash in front of the house, the keys were immediately thrown to him and he was told to take the car and leave! He still had to transfer the rest of the money, but the young man didn’t care, he just wanted him gone.

Anyway, Ivo drove home smiling at the whole situation and how dramatically it turned out. He had two cars and too much time, and some of his mechanics were still there despite the movement restrictions. For this particular project, working from home is not enough.

This is what I understood from this project, or rather, let me put it this way. 1961 Mercedes-Benz Ponton + 2012 C63 AMG = Ponton 63 AMG. Simply put: two cars became one. Let’s find out how, and if you’re not refilling your cup yet, then get the heck out of it and get a smaller cup.

The first step was to detach the pontoon shell from its chassis. This required a rigorous, scaffolding-like process. Another team was busy dismantling the W204 C63 AMG Coupé. Here they removed the body panels while retaining the chassis, interior, floor coverings, engine and all electronics.

I don’t even know what to call it, maybe the gallery below explains it better. Within a week they had dismantled both cars. The C63 AMG only had the chassis left, but it was still able to drive because the engine and electronics remained intact. They had to take out the interior to create a workspace, but the dashboard remained mostly intact. Even the sensors remained intact.

Then they took the shell of the Ponton and placed it on the C63 AMG chassis. Of course it would never fit, and so we all thought the most logical process would be to take the C63 powertrain and install it in the pontoon. However, the Ponton’s chassis would never handle the torque and power of a modern AMG, let alone a naturally aspirated V8 engine fueled by a secret cocktail of elephant testicle juice.

So they literally forced the pontoon shell onto the C63 AMG platform. Keep in mind that this is a two-door car, so new pillars also had to be modified, a lot of work was done to the frame and the entire car features a fully welded/bolted roll cage to increase rigidity. The exhaust pipes you see in the rear are part of the additional frame required for stability. No, they are not functional and have nothing to do with the actual exhaust system.

The interior is all W204 C63 AMG, with no additional insulation and padding, no airbags either, but you do get a 6-point harness system, which you don’t need unless you’re wearing a helmet.

The car is lighter than the original C63 thanks to its bare interior. Aside from the seats and dashboard, the interior is pretty bare bones. I noticed that the roof gets quite hot, which in turn makes the cabin hotter, but you have fully functional air conditioning like a modern German sedan. I had to ask him to turn off the air conditioning as it got pretty chilly during our short drive into central London.

Speaking of the powertrain, it drives like a modern car, imagine a lighter C63 AMG. The torque is almost instantaneous and there will be multiple wheel spins if your foot hits the ground too quickly. In Comfort mode it drives very quietly, but in Sport and Sport+ the Bully comes to life. You even have a manual mode, as all of the electronics from the 2012 AMG have been retained.

So what do you call it? A Ponton project or a C63 AMG project. Two cars became one, they exist within each other.

For now adios, see you next time when we find another cool project to reveal.

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