Will.i.am is probably best known as the leader of the Black Eyed Peas, but in the background he’s been a car guy and technologist for years. On Thursday, Will.i.am (born William James Adams Jr.), in partnership with Mercedes-AMG, unveiled a concept car that is part AMG GT coupe and part G-Class SUV. Formula 1 in Miami this weekend.
The vehicle is cheekily called WILL.I.AMG and is based on the Mercedes-AMG 4-door coupe. Besides the obvious body graft from the front of the G-Class SUV, Will also jettisoned a pair of doors and reinstalled the others “suicide-style”, meaning they hinge at the rear. The wheels are made to look like the iconic AMG Hammer rolling stock and the roof has glass panels like a t-top.
The vehicle was created with MTV’s West Coast Customs and will be showcased by will.i.am on Sunday alongside seven-time F1 champion Lewis Hamilton.
The mission of the Flip program is to give students from disadvantaged communities access to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts, and math) education to prepare them for future jobs. It’s one of many initiatives by the rapper’s i.am/Angel Foundation, which has raised millions of dollars over more than a decade.
He appeared at the first FIRST robotics competition in 2011 and produced a TV show about it. In 2016, it acquired Tel Aviv-based machine learning startup Sensiya. He was also Creative Director of the German company Deutsche Telekom and in 2017 received an award from the Institution of Engineering and Technology for his contribution to the engineering profession.
This isn’t the first time Will.i.am has designed a car. In 2013 he introduced the world to iAMauto, an automotive company that produced at least one coupe, again with the help of West Coast Customs. More recently, he redesigned a Tesla Model S with questionable results.
“I grew up in a ghetto. I grew up with hip-hop. I watched legendary hip-hop artists rap about Mercedes, so it’s always been a dream to own a Mercedes. For a lot of kids downtown, owning a Mercedes is a symbol of progress and getting out of the struggle,” Will.i.am said in a statement.
“Now I have achieved my goal and pushed even higher by re-imagining and creating my own vision of an AMG model. But I haven’t touched the engine, because AMG truly makes the best engines. founders of AMG inspires me and it’s energizing to collaborate with like-minded people who are also looking for continuous improvement.”
That engine he notes is the 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 that Mercedes puts in all of its bigger or faster vehicles. In the Mercedes-AMG GT 4-Door, it develops 630 horsepower and 663 lb-ft of torque.
“Our cooperation with will.i.am has reached a new height with ‘The Flip’. We have inspired and motivated each other in the realization of this holistic concept, which is much more than an exceptional automotive part. We take our responsibility towards society seriously,” said Philipp Schiemer, Chairman of the Board of Management of Mercedes-AMG GmbH, in a press release.
“Mercedes-AMG’s success as a Performance Luxury brand also depends to a large extent on inspiring the next generation and giving them easy access to the latest technology and digital progress. It’s part of our tradition to always be pioneers and dare to do something new.”