If you’re ready to test the elasticity of your face and the strength of your lungs, Cigarette Racing’s 41' SD GT3, and its twin Mercury Marine engines putting out 2200 horsepower, are happy to oblige.
Cigarette Racing has teamed up with the company now called Mercedes-AMG for years on absurdly fast, absurdly overpowered boats. This new 41-footer is their fastest collaboration yet, and to find out what it was made of, I went down to Miami to see it for myself.
Before climbing aboard the 20,000-pound center console cruiser decked out with Mercedes-AMG trimmings, there is a safety briefing, akin to a pre-race driver’s meeting.
Precautions include securing any loose clothing and credential lanyards, lest they turn into nooses at 100 mph, removing your sunglasses, and don’t stand up—unless you’re eager to fly off over the stern and into Miami’s Biscayne Bay.
While some nervous chatter ensues between seatmates about texting loved ones a final goodbye, the Mercury engines roar to life and we idle out into the calm inlet.
Inching towards the causeway, there is time to take in the beauty of the beast, including the $50,000 teak deck, typically reserved for mega yachts. This 1,000-pound flourish came courtesy of Daimler head of design Gorden Wagener, standing beside our captain, a champion racer named Bud.
The matte grey and yellow paint scheme on the fiberglass hull was borrowed directly from Mercedes-Benz’s GT3 race car. One was kindly floated out to the tip of the Cigarette Racing docks we’d departed from, to remind everyone of the collaboration between these two pedigreed legends of speed.
Clearing the no wake zone, Bud goosed the throttle, commencing a loud turbo spool. Within seconds we’re pinned against AMG-embossed marine-grade leather (a first for boats of this layout.)
It’s stupid fast, and just as we were yelling about how quick this is, Bud shouted we’re “only doing 60” and to brace for higher speeds.
There are no oh-shit handles in the back, so we gripped our lightweight self-inflating life jackets and hunkered down. He opened it wider.
At 90 mph, the wind buffeting from around the center cockpit is so immense that it’s a struggle to breathe. Opening your mouth to increase oxygen flow only makes your cheeks flap wildly. The beard of the fellow next to me completely parted in two. Leaning forward in an attempt to find some relief was futile.
Wagener, smartly planted behind the windshield, turned to give a grin and a thumbs up. I tried to return the smile but only manage to bare my teeth in a grimace. Behind us, a rooster tail of epic proportions arced into our sizable wake. Lesser boats blurred by, passengers gawking. At least, I assume they are gawking. I could barely get my eyelids to part.
Facial reconstruction and respiratory issues aside, the ride itself is smooth. “We wanted to give the feeling of our performance racers in an center console cruiser,” Skip Braver, CEO of Cigarette Racing told me back on the docks. It’s the fastest cruiser Cigarette’s ever made and a heap of modifications were required to achieve that goal.
When you want a quicker car, you chop extraneous weight. “When you want a quicker boat, you don’t want a dragster. You want all-around performance, so you need to bulk it up to become a wave crusher,” Braver said. That meant adding 6,000-pounds to the body and shortening bow length and beam width, each shaved by a foot to afford scalpel-like turning on a tighter radius.
Hours of thoughtful engineering went into the double-reinforced canopy to ensure it’s drag neutral. “Any lift at these speeds and you’ll flip in a second,” Braver said. They’ve also removed the top’s A-pillars to ensure maximum visibility and cut down on wind noise. Braver considers it a point of pride that competitors’ sun shade offerings ripple and rattle vigorously but his remains rock solid.
While the twin engines, staggered in the stern to improve the center of gravity and get the props closer together, are capable of going 125 mph, it would still prove too much for all of the safety considerations, so the SD 41' GT3 is limited to 100 mph.
It’ll guzzle 270 gallons per hour when maxed out, and the 320 gallon fuel tank means you’d be able to get from the Venetian Causeway to Bimini and back in 56 minutes and have leftover gas. Braver said you’d hate prolonged rides at top speed, due to the impact on your body, though “80 mph would be okay.”
The intended buyer is someone who is, of course, wealthy—the price is undisclosed though it’s north of a million—and eager for both speed and family time. Though this isn’t meant for towing a rubber tube with the kids atop, considering you’d rip the little ones’ limbs off once it gets hauling.
It’s presumed anyone considering a boat of this caliber already has a few high-performance toys on his estates, including Affalterbach-powered cars. Which is why Mercedes-Benz continues this partnership with Cigarette, now entering its sixth year.
Prior non-automotive artworks from the German manufacturer and its partners include helicopters, airboats, sunglasses and lamps, and even a Gulfstream jet into which Wagener inserted a fish tank. Working on something as large as a 41-foot power barge does offer some complications.
For example, that marine-grade leather. Bulls only come so large, so there are more seams than normal. The teak floor alone took a month to lay. Like AMG engines, everything on the ST 41' GT3 is hand built and receives an impressive amount of care and detail, which means it takes 16 weeks to complete a single unit. But aren’t the best things worth the wait?
Perhaps next year, Mercedes-AMG can collaborate with an oxygen tank company, so you can have a luxurious, matte-finished breathing apparatus to keep you alive as you crush waves at triple digits.
Sean Evans is a New York-based writer and editor who’s always in search of adventure, the perfect slab of bacon and automotive glory. He’s written for The Drive, Condé Nast Traveler, New York, Fast Company, Entertainment Weekly, and more. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.