Crushing Waves Onboard Mercedes-Benz AMG’s 2200-Horsepower Cigarette Boat
When your AMG GT3 is ocean-going, “a bit floaty” is a good thing.
Are you a fan of near-death experiences? Then you’d love roaring through Miami’s Biscayne Bay at 90 mph in the Cigarette Racing SD GT3, a 41-foot, 20,000-pound powerboat with 2200 horsepower and looks inspired by the Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 race car. Windburn and temporary deafness come standard, along with a marine-grade leather-and-teak interior courtesy of Daimler design chief Gorden Wagener. Sanity is optional. Pricing is available upon request; expect something in the seven-figure range.
“I love the water. I feel at home on the ocean,” says Wagener as we storm out to sea. Easy for him to say to say; he’s seated in the somewhat enclosed area in the middle of the craft, under a canopy painted with actual Mercedes-Benz paint, next to our Captain, Bud. I’m pinned to the center position at the rear of the boat, chest and face crushed by gale-force venturis buffeting around the upright cabin.
“Now I know what it is like to be a hood ornament,” I say to one of my fellow passengers. With all of this air, it is surprisingly hard to breathe. Thankful for the curved windbreak that surrounds the passenger compartment, I use its occasional clarity to scan the shore for rescue vehicles.
But external salvation is not a necessity. To make the SD GT3 behave more like a placid whale shark chumming for krill, and less like a Sea World dolphin begging for smelt, Cigarette Racing owner Skip Braver says the company takes an opposite tack to Lotus founder Colin Chapman’s famous “add lightness.”
“We don’t want a dragster,” Braver explains once we’re back on land. “We want an all-around good boat, something you can take your family on. We add weight (two or three tons more than is added to Cigarette’s typical 41-footers) because we want a wave crusher.”
Mercedes-Benz and Cigarette Racing have been teaming up to create memorable experiences for ultra rich customers (and attendees of the international Boat Show circuit) for nearly a decade. Why? Because in today’s competitive marketplace, all automotive luxury brands want to position themselves everywhere within the realm of their customers’ lifestyle. And, apparently, Mercedes-Benz AMG customers, in addition to desiring the fastest and most powerful (or simply the most expensive) vehicle in the showroom, believe that this incorporates peril on the high seas.
“It is not just cars we are building as a company,” Wagener says. “We are designing a dream world of modern luxury.”
Miami, one of the world’s premier aqueous-adjacent luxury markets, presents an ideal locus for launching such a fancy fantasy confluence, which explains why this particular boat was presented for the first time, globally, at the Miami Boat Show this week. (South Florida’s tropical winter temperature is another obvious part of the appeal, at least for me.)
As we turn around and roar, thankfully, back toward the shore, I hug myself, enveloping in my embrace my lightweight self-inflating life-preserver. I wonder why it isn’t made of marine-grade leather. Did I mention that I dislike being out on the water and consider all forms of racing little more than insolent noise?
At its top speed of 100 mph, the AMG Cigarette Boat burns 270 gallons of gas per hour. It has a 320-gallon tank. It takes 16 weeks to build. The twin Mercury Racing 1100s require a complete rebuild after 200 hours of use. This should be a question on the SAT.
As the earth warms, and the tides rise, the streets, lawns, driveways and parking lots of Miami Beach now spend a good deal of every month under water. Because of the porous nature of the limestone that underpins the region geologically, the sewer system, intended to carry these surges away from the prosperous barrier island, acts as a kind of sluiceway, allowing this inundation. Soon enough, here in Miami, and elsewhere on our vulnerable coasts where most luxury buyers are concentrated, high-end auto manufacturers won’t have to seek out tenuous lifestyle connections between land- and sea-based vehicles. They will be one and the same.
Until then, we’ll try to enjoy it while it lasts.