Because you’re you, I’m assuming you were distracted from the second half of the Super Bowl trying to figure out what kind of car the Weeknd was sitting in when the halftime show opened — and maybe trying to figure out where you’d seen him before. Thanks to Raph, we know that it was an S-Klub Roadster, a sort-of-restomod made by S-Klub in Los Angeles.
In a dour, multi-hour broadcast that featured saccharine, cynical appeals to political compromise, hollow praise for “Healthcare Heroes” from the site of a probable super-spreader event and the horrifying spectacle of watching good things happen to Tom Brady, the halftime show was maybe the only thing that wasn’t depressing. In fact, it was actually fun to watch. Even if it wasn’t your thing, it was weird, it was the expression of an artist’s original-if-zany vision. It was different and unexpected. When was the last thing something like that happened on a major TV broadcast?
The show opened with the performer seated in a little roadster, clearly a Mercedes — even if I briefly thought it might be a chopped up Karmann Ghia. As the camera zoomed through the set’s Vegas-y lights toward the car, the Weeknd popped the door and hopped out, leaving me with just a few seconds to decide whether I was looking at some kind of heavily resto-modded SL or a kit.
Wrong! It’s a 2002 Mercedes-Benz SLK 32 with a heavily rejiggered 300 SL-ish body painstakingly slapped over the top. Check out this walkaround with car culture hero Larry Chen, from his excellent Hoonigan AutoFocus video series:
Builders John Sarkisyan and Alan Iwamoto worked with Jon Sibal to design the SL, which is their second SL/SLK effort. The first was this Gullwing, which was made with molds created from a real, disassembled 300SL.
According to this story from the MB Market, the Weeknd has appeared in an ad for the Mercedes EQC and has been making frequent use of Mercedes products new and old recently. According to this other story in Billboard, he paid $7 million of his own money to help the poor little NFL — which doesn’t compensate halftime show performers — cover the cost of producing the performance. Faced with that decision, I’d have told them I was going to recreate this, but good for him for pursuing his vision. I hope it pans out so he can keep writing songs about cars and cocaine.