The Automobile as Art: The Anatomy of the 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss.

Offered at RM Sotheby’s Villa Erba collector car auction 25 May 2019

Andrew Miterko

For the end of the SLR model,Mercedes-Benz and McLaren collaborated to pay homage to the legendary 300 SLR race car piloted by Sir Stirling Moss in 1955 and designed by Rudolf Ulenhaut, Mercedes-Benz’s brilliant racing department engineer of the period. Using the venerable Mercedes-Benz McLaren SLR as the base for the Stirling Moss edition, Korean designer Yoon Il-hun penned an exhilarating lightweight speedster with open cockpit styling and aero humps with roll hoops behind the driver and passenger seats. The Stirling Moss Edition SLR more than an limited production variant with merely aesthetic changes, but a complete transformation with significant performance improvements courtesy of lighter weight and increased horsepower to match.

Click ahead to explore the highlights of Mercedes-Benz and McLaren’s collaborative effort to create a supercar that recalls perhaps the most significant Mercedes-Benz race car in history.




Evocative exterior design:

Image courtesy of Daimler via Mercedes-BenzClassic Centre

The Stirling Moss Edition SLR and iconic 300 SLR share the same open cockpit design, devoid of a windshield and sporting long dual aero humps behind its occupants. The signature dual side exit exhaust of the original model in 1955 is also present on the modern interpretation. A tonneau cover was designed to enclose passenger compartment for added aerodynamics and in following with the vintage racer’s design.

Advanced composite body panels:

The 1955 Mille Miglia winning 300 SLR utilized aluminum chassis beneath Electron bodywork - a magnesium alloy which was at the time the lightest method of skinning a race car with metal. The modern iteration uses a lightweight carbon fiber monocoque and panels constructed of carbon fiber reinforced plastic for its proven strength, lightness and longevity. The result is 441 pounds are shed from other SLR models.

McLaren tuned engine:

Mercedes-Benz and Mclaren felt that the weight savings from the open speedster design was not enough, and that no compromise would be made on the Stirling Moss edition. The 617 horsepower supercharged 5.4 litre engine was tuned to 651 horsepower and 605 pound-feet of torque capable of hurling the SLR to 100kmh in only 3.5 seconds.

Minimalist Interior:

Much like the original 300 SLR, the majority of creature comforts were sacrificed for weight savings. The modern SLR features a partially leather wrapped dashboard, a carbon fiber binnacle, aluminum trim, and modern bucket seats.

Vertically hinged doors:

Similar to race cars of the mid 1950s and modern day, the swing doors on the Stirling Moss edition lift vertically and pivot diagonally away from the body. The swing doors are shorter and shorter than those of the SLR 722 and coupe variants.

Aero Humps and Roll hoops:

The two distinctive humps behind the driver and passenger bucket seats recall those of the 300 SLR racer. Although not found on its vintage counterpart, for added safety the Stirling Moss edition has two roll hoops atop the aero humps to protect the occupants in the event of a rollover.

Motorsport Derived Aerodynamics:

The undercarriage of the Stirling Moss edition SLR is almost entirely flat, so the titanium exhaust exits right behind the front wheels, a large diffuser was added to the rear to create a vacuum beneath the vehicle, and paired with an adjustable rear wing which can be angled up to 35º for additional downforce.

A Rare Opportunity:

The SLR line was discontinued in May of 2009, and only 75 Stirling Moss edition SLRs would be produced from June 2009 and completed by December 2009. Additionally, they were only available to existing SLR owners for the tune of over $1,000,000 usd. The Stirling Moss edition offered at RM Sotheby’s has been well cared for by only two owners since new, and has also participated in the 2012 Mercedes-Benz Mille Miglia challenge- perhaps as a nod to Stirling Moss’s Mille Miglia victory in 1955.