Road-Going Racer: CLK GTR

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The CLK GTR was created to compete at the highest level of sports car racing: the FIA GT Championship. The car was designed from the ground up to be a pure racing car, with the road-going versions required for homologation built as an afterthought. During development Mercedes secretly purchased a McLaren F1 GTR and switched it’s BMW V12 for one of their own. This car was to serve as a benchmark for competitor lap times as well as to test out the new and highly aerodynamic bodywork destined for use on the CLK GTR.

After a somewhat shaky start to the GT season due to brake failures, the CLK GTRs really began to hit their stride. Mercedes finished the 1997 GT season as the constructor’s champion and Bernd Schneider clinched the driver’s title in his CLK GTR. With the GT Championship conquered Mercedes set their sights on the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Modifications included aerodynamic tweaks for Le Mans’ high speeds and engine changes. Despite replacing the 6.0 litre V12s with supposedly more reliable V8s, both CLK LMs were forced to retire after engine failures. Mercedes then returned to GT racing and ran away with the rest of the season. All told the CLK GTR/LMs won 17 of the 22 races they entered.

To satisfy the FIA’s homologation requirements Mercedes was obliged to produce 25 road-going versions of the CLK GTR. The cars weren’t completed as they should have been by the start of the 1997 season but the FIA allowed Mercedes to compete anyway, much to the chagrin of the competition. As the CLK GTR was designed as a racing car, creature comforts were sparse. Storage lockers were integrated into the door sills and a leather interior was installed, while a new traction control system aimed to keep the CLK GTR’s 630 horsepower from launching itself into a tree. The price of this road-going racer in 1998 was a cool $1.5 million.

Posted @Whippstagram on Instagram, Febuary 10th 2016

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Road-Going Racer: CLK GTR

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