Mercedes and McLaren celebrated together the 20th anniversary since the launch of the Mercedes SLR McLaren at the McLaren Technology Centre in Woking, UK.
The Mercedes SLR McLaren was born out of the cooperation between Mercedes and McLaren in F1. McLaren brought its expertise to monocoque body construction
made of carbon fiber in this partnership.
However, the cooperation between the two manufacturers was not the best because their goals were different. Mercedes wanted a comfortable super GT and McLaren wanted a lightweight carbon fiber construction. In the end, the result was a rather heavy GT with a rather high weight of 1800 kg, which had an F1-inspired carbon fiber monocoque.
The SLR project was an important chapter in McLaren’s history. It was the first model assembled at the McLaren Technology Center (MTC), and many of the people who worked on the project are still with McLaren today.
In addition, the McLaren Special Operations (MSO) division continues to provide Mercedes SLR McLaren owners with bespoke commissions and upgrade packages.
The 20th anniversary was celebrated with a meeting between the car technicians and 21 owners, members of the SLR Club. Also on display at the event on the MTC Boulevard were four of McLaren’s most special SLR versions – an SLR Stirling Moss, an SLR by MSO, an SLR HDK, and the SLR 722 GT Prototype – alongside items from the car’s development story.
The last special version of the SLR McLaren was SLR Stirling Moss, produced in only 75 units. The MSO version made by McLaren was even more exclusive, being produced in only 25 units. Production of the SLR ceased in December 2009, while the MSO version was launched in 2010.
The first concept, called the Mercedes SLR Vision, was shown in January 1999 at the Detroit Motor Show, and in the summer of that year, Mercedes and McLaren announced their cooperation at the Silverstone Grand Prix.
McLaren chassis, Mercedes engine
The first prototype of the McLaren SLR, known internally as Project 9, was hand-built by a team of former McLaren Formula 1 team mechanics. Mercedes was in charge of the design and delivered the 5.4-litre twin-turbocharged V8 engine with mechanical supercharger which develops 626 ps (617 hp) and 780 Nm (575 lb ft).
The Mercedes SLR McLaren accelerated from 0 to 100 kph (62 mph) in 3.8 seconds and reached a top speed of 335 kph (208 mph)
Although it was a very high-performance car, the Mercedes SLR McLaren was not a commercial success. Mercedes intended to produce 500 examples per year for seven years, from 2003 to 2009, which meant a target of 3,500 copies in total. But it only managed to sell 1,400 examples. The price at the launch in 2003 was 452,000 euro ($488,615).
Still, the sales figure is higher than other supercars. Produced around the same period, Porsche sold only 1279 Carrera GTs.
In the used car market, the Mercedes SLR McLaren does not have a very high market value. The coupe version sells at prices that do not exceed the value of the car when was new, in 2003.
In contrast, the convertible version produced in only 150 examples has traded at higher prices ranging from $600,000 to 800,000. The most expensive version is the SLR Stirling Moss, with the few examples on sale fetching astronomical prices of between 3 and 4 million $.