New M-B Will Be Made in England
Do you remember when Mercedes-Benz was a force in sports car racing? Im not talking about Formula 1, where its engines are made by Englands Ilmor Engineering (now 55% owned by M-B) and chassis by McLaren (40% owned by M-B). Im not even referring to DTM, where Bernd Schneider often dominates in heavily modified CLKs. I mean sports car racing, where real production cars go head to head for race track dominance.
Mercedes wants us to remember the mid 1950s when Juan Manuel Fangio, Stirling Moss and Karl Kling guided the all-powerful 300 SLR to its place as one of the most successful racing sports cars of all time.
While the closest the new SLR will make it to the track might be running pace car duties, it will hold nothing back in street car performance. A hyper-tuned version of AMGs supercharged 5.5-L V8 – rumored to even displace as much as 5.8-L – will send more than 550-hp through the multi-spoke rear wheels.
The aforementioned F1 chassis builder, McLaren, will be in charge of constructing the car, something the Woking, England outfit has proven itself extremely worthy of after annihilating GT competitors with its McLaren F1 supercar, still considered one of the fastest, best handling GT ever made.
To reduce weight and increase torsional rigidity the new Mercedes will sport a carbon fiber structure and composite components, including brake rotors.
Taking a cue from the classic 300 SL, the new SLR will boast scissor-type doors, although more akin to those found on a Lamborghini Murciï¿½lago than a Gullwing. Nevertheless they are the stuff of dreams, part of the mystique that elevates a sports car to the level of exotica.
The new car will debut at the Frankfurt auto show this fall as a 2004 model, offered at a rather steep $200,000 to $250,000 – prices have yet to be announced. Expect it to arrive in North America by April of 04.
Those waiting for the roadster version that recently appeared in concept form and was expected to follow the coupe as a 2005 model shouldnt hold their collective breath. It is, unfortunately, on hold.