With V12s on their way out of the Mercedes-AMG range, it’s worth celebrating some of the cool and wild vehicles to be created by the tuner-turned-manufacturer over its four decades of operation.
The CLK GTR of the late 1990s was developed in racing guise in just 128 days for the 1997 FIA GT championship, entered in the GT1 class to take on the McLaren F1 GTR.
Despite being put on the track in such a short time, the CLK GTR won six out of eleven races that season, including four one-two finishes along the way, nabbing Mercedes-Benz the team and driver titles.
As per FIA regulations at the time, Mercedes had to make 25 road-going examples of its successful racing car, which resulted in the most expensive production car ever (back then), priced from US$1,547,620 ($1,994,263).
Possibly its craziest model ever, the CLK GTR road car packed a naturally-aspirated 6.9-litre V12 developing 450kW of power and 775Nm of torque. The GTR race car, meanwhile, featured a 464kW 6.0-litre V12.
Even by today’s standards, the CLK GTR’s performance was manic to say the least. The sprint from 0-100km/h took just 3.8 seconds, on its way to a top speed of 344km/h.
Just 26 examples of the CLK GTR were made in total, 20 coupes and 6 roadsters. Only two of these were right-hand drive, made specifically for Hassanal Bolkiah, the Sultan of Brunei.
Fun fact – despite sharing its name with the regular CLK coupe, the CLK GTR only shared its instrumentation, front grille and headlights with its watered-down namesake.
As for the race car, Mercedes-Benz created the CLK LM (above) for Le Mans endurance racing after conquering the 1997 FIA GT1 class. To do this, the V12 was swapped out for a naturally-aspirated 447kW 5.0-litre V8 based on the engine used on the Sauber C9 and C11 race cars from the late-1980s and early-1990s.
While the engine proved unreliable for the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the CLK LM returned to the FIA GT championship for the latter rounds in 1998, managing six one-two finishes and taking out the team championship once again.
For a quick look back at the CLK GTR’s racing success, watch the video above.