A sterling SLR upstages all the others, and signals the end of an era.
Now that the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren will cease production in May, the company is crowning the exclusive model line with one final variant to outdo all the others. Considering how special the SLR McLaren already is, it couldn’t have been easy coming up with the end-all-be-all SLR for the history books.
Well, Mercedes seems to have done it with the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss edition.
The company created a car so arcane that only the most extreme car enthusiasts would ever see the point of it, let alone want to pay 750,000 euros (about $1.02 million at current exchange rates). Not that they would even get the chance: Only current SLR McLaren owners will be considered for the privilege of buying one of the 75 being built. None will be sold in the United States.
The new SLR is a rolling homage to Mercedes’ racing heritage. It’s named in honor of legendary British racer Stirling Moss, who in 1955 set a speed record by driving an equally legendary Mercedes 300 SLR to victory in the Italian Mille Miglia, a thousand-mile cross-country race so grueling and dangerous that it was banned after a fatal crash in 1957 that killed two participants and 11 spectators.
Like the 1955 Mercedes 300 SLR race car, the new SLR Stirling Moss doesn’t have a roof or windows. Minuscule "wind screens" in front of the driver and passenger are designed to divert wind over occupants’ heads, although they’re probably not nearly as effective as a full windshield when driving the car at its top speed of 217.5 mph.
But getting pelted by road debris and having your face peeled back by the forceful onrush of wind is all part of the experience of owning an SLR Stirling Moss. After all, the car’s namesake was tough enough to withstand such a ride for 10 hours, 7 minutes and 48 seconds in the 1955 Mille Miglia, with only an open-face helmet and goggles as protective gear.
Two scoops protruding from the rear deck behind the passenger cabin provide rollover protection and mimic fairings on the classic 300 SLR racer. Along with the Spartan windowless cockpit, they’re the only visual elements that tie the new SLR to its racing forebear. Because the door sill is so high, Mercedes made the doors swing up like those on a Lamborghini.
Under the cartoonishly long hood is a 650-horsepower supercharged V8 engine that cranks 650 hp to the rear wheels and that catapults the car from zero to 62 mph in less than 3.5 seconds. The exhaust pipes exit just behind the front wheel and should give occupants audible entertainment.
Drivers can shift the five-speed automatic transmission manually via paddles behind the steering wheel.
Drivers can also activate a rear spoiler that raises from the trunk lid to increase high-speed stability. The spoiler also acts like an air brake to help slow down the vehicle by automatically raising during hard braking at speeds above 75 mph – all the better to protect rich daredevils behind the wheel and preserve their historic rides for posterity.