Back in the late 1990s, the FIA introduced the GT Championship to replace the then-defunct International Touring Car Championship. Along with this new series came a specific homologation requirement that would see automakers forced to build 25 road-going versions of their racers. Mercedes jumped at the opportunity to take on the new top-flight series, alongside the likes of Porsche and McLaren, and so the mighty CLK GTR was born. Now thanks to Gooding and Company, you have a chance to take home the ninth CLK GTR “Strassenversion” ever built.
Mercedes built a total of 35 CLK GTRs, including the prototypes, race cars, and road-legal variants. Just 20 coupes and six roadsters were constructed, with this being the ninth down the production line. The car is based around a carbon fiber and aluminum monocoque developed by Lola, with a 6.9-liter V-12 engine tucked behind the driver. The M120-based engine is good for an impressive 604 hp and 572 lb-ft of torque in road trim and comes mated to a paddle-operated six-speed sequential gearbox. In period Merceded claimed the CLK GTR was good for 0-60 mph in just 3.8 seconds, with a top speed of 214 mph. All of that performance wasn’t cheap, as the CLK GTR’s base price of $1,547,620 made it the most expensive car in the world at the time.
Thankfully for customers, the huge asking price was being justified on the race track. The mega-CLK took home six wins during the eleven race 1997 season, which earned Mercedes both the team and drivers championships that year. Not bad for a car that was developed in a mere 128 days by chopping up and later crashing a McLaren F1. After such a successful run in 1997, Mercedes came back in 1998 with its sights set on winning Le Mans. In order to do this, the automaker put the CLK GTR back in the workshop. The resulting CLK LM variant ditched GTR's the V-12 for a modified 5.0-liter V-8 first utilized by the Sauber C9 and C11 models. The CLK LM was naturally aspirated however, producing 600 hp from the race-proven engine. Unfortunately for Mercedes, both of the CLK LMs racing at Le Mans suffered engine trouble within the first few hours of the event. Instead of a triumphant victory, Mercedes was left to watch Porsche take home the trophy.
That sort of disappointment wouldn't last however. The CLK LM models would replace the V-12-powered CLK GTR by the third race of 1998's GT Championship, and won every race thereafter. The Mercedes were so dominant in fact that they actually had six 1-2 finishes during the run. With Porsche and McLaren no longer interested in losing, they withdrew from the GT Championship series after the 1998 season. The FIA went on to kill the series ahead of the 1999 season. Not all was lost however, as the FIA introduced the Le Mans Grand Tourer Prototype series to replace the GT Championship. The CLK LM would evolve into the Mercedes CLR, thanks to a little help from the team at AMG. That Le Mans racer is arguably best known for giving us one of the most terrifying crashes in all of motorsports history, when Peter Dumbreck's CLR took flight. Mercedes cancelled the CLR program shortly thereafter.
This particular CLK GTR Strassenversion is slated to be offered at Gooding & Company's Pebble Beach Auction next month. Carrying lot No. 50, the car is estimated to bring between $8.5 and $10 million. That is an obscene amount of cash, but this is quite simply one of the coolest cars ever built. This one has less than 900 miles on the odometer, but it is possible that has to do with the Show or Display laws that allow the car to be here in the first place. Regardless, it's hard to not be in love with an icon of motorsports like the CLK GTR. For more information about the car, you can head over to the auction page here.
You Might Also Like