At about $10,000 below the auction company's low estimate and a titanic $145,000 below the 2005 list price, those 4,500 miles were dear indeed


The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren revives the glorious tradition of the 300SLR and marks the reawakening of Mercedes-Benz's passion for super sports cars. It is a passion that can be traced throughout automotive history and which was demonstrated with the Uhlenhaut Coupe.

A contemporary interpretation of stylistic elements lifted from the original SLR and design details taken from the 2003 Formula One Silver Arrows allows the 21st Century SLR to form a bridge between the past and the future, bringing cutting-edge motorsport technology to the road, just as the inspirational SLR coupe did in 1955.

Its new supercar allows Mercedes-Benz and its Formula One partner McLaren to showcase their collective experience in the development, construction and production of high-performance sports cars, and just like its legendary 300SLR predecessor, it incorporates technological developments that are ahead of their time. Yet the term "supercar" does not do full justice to the SLR, which, its peerless performance notwithstanding, is a luxurious and finely engineered Gran Turismo in the best traditions of Mercedes-Benz.

Needless to say, the Mercedes-Benz SLR delivers performance figures that are among the best in its class, taking just 3.8 seconds to sprint from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph); it passes the 200 kph (125 mph) mark after 10.6 seconds and from a standing start takes just 28.8 seconds to reach 300 kph (186 mph). The two-seater has a top speed of 334 kph (207 mph).

The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren was launched in South Africa and introduced for the 2005 model year priced at $455,000, although choosing from the lengthy list of options could add considerably to the total. This left-hand-drive SLR was sold new in 2005 to the current owner. Finished in black, it features the optional "turbine" spoked wheels and classic "300SL" red leather upholstery. Always kept garaged in Sussex, the car has not been used for over two years and has covered a mere 4,500 miles from new.

SCM Analysis


Vehicle:2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren
Number Produced:3,000, approx. (roadster still in production)
Original List Price:$495,000 (2007)
Tune Up Cost:Substantial
Club Info:Mercedes-Benz Club of America, 1907 Lelaray Street Colorado Springs, CO 80909
Investment Grade:F

This 2005 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Coupe sold for $309,258 at the Bonhams Goodwood Festival of Speed auction on July 11, 2008.

Mercedes-Benz and the auction company made great hay out of the fact that the inspiration for the SLR was none other than the W196 Uhlenhaut coupe, perhaps one of the most beautiful and charismatic sports racers of the 1950s.

In reality, the SLR has none of the grace of that car. Instead, it comes off as a late-model SL with a glandular problem and contrived doors. When new, it was billed as “the fastest automatic transmission car in the world.”

Still, the SLR Coupe is an impressive showcase of technology that highlights the prodigious abilities of the McLaren group, which is 40% owned by Mercedes-Benz. With 616 hp, their quoted performance figures are totally credible (in fact, the BBC television program “Top Gear” bettered the factory claims). Able to run with all of the usual automotive overkill suspects except the Bugatti Veyron, it’s difficult to imagine that this isn’t enough swagger for anyone.

However, it appears this SLR McLaren Coupe was just a passing fancy for owner #1, who put 4,500 miles on the car before putting his new toy away two years ago. And while cosmetically, the car was reported to be in excellent order, one has to wonder what effects the two-year storage had on it and how carefully it was stored.

Knowing that the half-life of modern gasoline is shorter than the attention span of an ADHD third-grader, and knowing that the injection system probably has components in it that cost as much as a new C-Class may have put some potential bidders off. At least the carbon fiber brake rotors didn’t rust during the car’s prolonged layup.

At about $10,000 below the auction company’s low estimate and a titanic $145,000 below the 2005 list price, those 4,500 miles were dear indeed. It all goes to illustrate the folly of short-term ownership of a modern supercar. Publisher Martin and SCM have stressed time and time again in these pages the fallacy of “instant collectibility.” Nearly every new supercar has its day in the sun until the next “must have” supercar/fashion accessory comes out. At which point the former flavor of the month begins the inevitable resale power dive.

Only the McLaren F1 breaks the rule

About the only exception that comes to mind is another product of McLaren’s creativity, the McLaren F1. Alone among recent supercars, the F1 was an uncompromising, weapons-grade sports car. And with a 6-speed conventional manual transmission only, it would never become a fashion accessory adopted by poseurs and professional athletes. The fact that it is still the fastest naturally aspirated car on the planet, and that just over 60 street cars were built, assures that you will likely never see a disappointing auction result for an F1.

But in the case of the SLR McLaren Coupe, it will be a long time, if ever, before it is worth anywhere near its original list price. With over 3,000 copies planned, the SLR is anything but rare. I’d say well sold, despite the beating.

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