2005 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Coupe, 2006 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Roadster

By the mid 1990s, there was growing interest at Mercedes-Benz and Porsche in returning to an ultra-exclusive form of racing featuring homologated race cars in the tradition of the great Gran Turismo cars of yesteryear.

The result was the FIA GT Championship, which commenced in 1997 to great fanfare. Mercedes-Benz and AMG entered the top-level GT1 class to compete head-on with the Porsche 911 GT1 and the BMW-powered McLaren F1.

Each manufacturer was required to produce at least 25 homologated road cars. The task was monumental. AMG had only four months to design, build, and test both a competitive race car and its road-going brother.

McLaren’s entrance into the FIA GT1 class required that its F1 road car be outfitted in racing trim. By contrast, the AMG solution to homologation was quite the opposite. Instead of building a race car from an existing sports car, AMG set about creating an all-new GT1 contender-nothing less than road-going race cars.

Per FIA regulations, Mercedes built 25 of these machines, with minimal additional creature comforts. Up front, next to the inboard front suspension and radiator system, rested an air conditioning unit, along with ABS for additional safety. Cargo space improved slightly with two small storage compartments under each upward-swinging door, while the interior featured leather appointments.

Although no major aerodynamic changes were made to the car, its rear wing was sculpted to fit the body more smoothly and the front air dam was redesigned. Gear changes were lightning-quick, thanks to a paddle-operated 6-speed sequential gearbox lifted directly from the GT1 race cars. The mid-mounted 6.9-liter V12 rested directly behind the driver, producing a raw and menacing exhaust note.

Of the 25 homologated CLK GTRs built for road use, the first 20 were coupes like their racing counterparts. This car is the 13th in the series and is confirmed as the only right-hand-drive CLK GTR built. It was constructed for a prominent collector and sold new for over $1.5m. The car has never been road registered and has only 15.6 delivery miles. Completed in January 2005, it is essentially brand new.

Of the 25 Mercedes-Benz road-going CLK GTRs built to meet FIA requirements, only five were roadsters. The roadster variants of the CLK GTR are virtually identical to the coupes, with the exception of a removable top panel and integrated roll bar. This car is number two in the series and the only right-hand-drive Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR roadster. Like the coupe, this car is virtually brand new. It was completed in August 2006, has just 21 delivery miles, and has never been road registered. It cost a staggering $2m.

Thor Thorson

Thor Thorson - SCM Contributing Editor

Thor grew up in northern Iowa. His father bought a red Jag XK 150 in the late 1950s, and that was all it took; he has been in love with sports cars , racing cars and the associated adrenaline rush ever since. He has vintage raced for more than 20 years, the bulk of them spent behind the wheel of a blue Elva 7. When he’s not racing, he is president of Vintage Racing Motors Inc., a collector-car dealer and vintage-racing support company based in Redmond, WA. His knowledge runs the full spectrum of vintage racing, and he has put that expertise to good use for SCM since 2003.

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