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| Las Vegas, Nevada
- A Silver Arrow for the street; an incredible specimen of Mercedes-Benz and AMG’s most sought-after homologation special
- The seventh of only 20 examples produced by AMG’s Special Vehicle Construction Office and HWA AG to homologate their two-time FIA GT1 champion racecar
- Delivered new to Switzerland; acquired by the consignor in April 2021
- Currently indicates fewer than 7,015 km (4,358 mi) at time of cataloguing; one of only three examples with tartan gabardine upholstery that harkens back to Sir Stirling Moss’ Mille Miglia-winning 300 SLR
- Over $71,000 of service invoices from DK Engineering on file; previously federalized for US road use by JK Technologies in October 2017
- One of the finest and best-engineered racing sports cars ever created; Mercedes-Benz’s own track-derived reply to the McLaren F1 and Porsche GT1
From the first strikes of pencil upon paper, to the final few inches of works driver Bernd Schneider’s initial test lap at Jarama in April 1997, it took just 128 days for the Mercedes-Benz Sportabteilung and its motorsports partners to create their all-conquering CLK GTR, a brand-new racing sports car with immediate championship-winning pedigree.
To the tremendous shock of perhaps everybody in the world outside the company’s specialized race factories in Affalterbach, Stuttgart, and Ossweil—the CLK GTR proved so dominant that it effectively caused the collapse of the motorsport series for which it was designed, and so well engineered that it remains one of the most highly revered racing sport car designs of the modern era.
The CLK GTR, alongside the McLaren F1 and Porsche 911 GT1, forms the vaunted “GT1 Trinity;” rarified, contemporaneous rivals that contested the FIA GT1 class and thus represent the apogee of late-Nineties racing sportscar development. Of these three legendary models, the CLK GTR has always been the most exclusive and barely tamed, and this comprehensive allure is concretely bolstered by the model’s absolute dominance over its rivals enroute to back-to-back FIA GT1 Championships in 1997 and 1998.
In its limited-production, roadgoing “Strassenversion,” the model’s world-record sticker price in excess of $1.5 million did little to dissuade any of the 300-or-so buyers AMG secured for its FIA-required series of just 25 homologation examples. In the end, only 20 CLK GTR Coupes were produced by HWA AG and AMG’s Special Vehicle Construction Office between 1998 and 1999, and today these examples are, without reproach, counted—by nearly every imaginable metric and collecting niche—among the most highly sought-after automobiles in the world. No single Mercedes-Benz automobile, save perhaps for the 300 SLR Uhlenhaut Coupe, can lay so close a claim as the CLK GTR to being the epitome of a true “Silver Arrow” for the street.
FROM RACE CAR TO ROAD CAR
In an exact reversal of McLaren’s homologation strategy for its F1 supercar, AMG set about homologating the CLK GTR by essentially producing nothing more than road-going race cars.
Designed in parallel with the racecar and using many of the same components, the CLK GTR’s monocoque chassis is constructed from a central carbon-fiber composite tub mounted with carbon-fiber body panels and a stressed-member powertrain design, which sees all major components mated directly to the tub. The first CLK GTR for the streets was presented to the FIA on 1 April 1997, only six days before Mercedes-Benz works driver Bernd Schneider not only picked up fastest-lap honors, but also gained pole position in the CLK GTR’s maiden competitive outing at Hockenheimring.
The twenty CLK GTR Coupe customer cars did not begin production until the summer of 1998; more than a year after the model had claimed its initial FIA GT1 Championship. They received minimal changes from the contemporaneous racecars. Air conditioning, anti-lock brakes, leather upholstery, an integrated rear wing, cabin insulation, and a pair of luggage pockets remain the most noteworthy modifications furnished to these Strassenversionen. The customer cars, however, do utilize a distinct engine, the 623-horsepower, 6.9-liter naturally-aspirated M297 V-12 that has now gained further worldwide repute as the beating heart installed in more than three consecutive generations of Pagani automobiles.
In contrast to the F1 and 911 GT1, the CLK GTR truly behaves like a bona fide race car on the street. Gear changes are lightning-quick, thanks to a paddle-operated six-speed sequential manual gearbox lifted directly from the GT1 cars. The car’s mid-mounted 6.9-liter V-12 engine, a stressed member of the chassis structure, sits directly behind the driver, producing an utterly raw and menacing soundtrack.
THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS CLK GTR
This CLK GTR is the seventh example produced, completed at HWA AG on 27 April 1999. Interestingly, both elements of this car’s color combination are clear references to Mercedes-Benz’s incredible racing heritage: The exterior remains finished in the company’s official racing color of Iridium Silver Metallic (775), while the competition-inspired cockpit is trimmed in blue-gray tartan gabardine fabric, which harkens back to the 1955 Mille Miglia-winning 300 SLR racecar of Sir Stirling Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson. Only two other GTR Coupes are known to feature this fashionable upholstery pattern.
GTR number 07 was delivered new to Switzerland on 12 May 1999, where it was initially registered in St. Gallen as “SG 110706.” The car remained in Switzerland with its original owner, seeing occasional use, until November 2010. From there, it was secreted away in a private German collection until 2017, before being brokered to the previous owner by leading marque specialists Kienle Automotive. At that time, it the odometer indicated 6,376 kilometers (3,961 miles).
Prior to taking delivery of the newly acquired CLK GTR, the car’s previous owner had it comprehensively serviced by SPS Automotive, a specialized motorsports firm based in Willsbach, Germany founded in 2003 by former HWA AG employees. Of note in a long list of service items was the replacement of its fuel bladder, a new fire extinguisher, and new set of custom OZ alloy wheels.
Upon completion of this servicing regimen, CLK GTR number 07 was imported to the United States in October 2017 and subsequently federalized for road use by JK Technologies. Following five years of residence (and infrequent enjoyment) within one of the world’s finest private collections of modern racing sportscars, this CLK GTR was purchased by the consignor in April 2021, then indicating just 6,448 kilometers (4,006 miles) upon its famous 340-kph instrument cluster.
At the time of acquisition, it was submitted to DK Engineering for more than $71,000 of mechanical servicing and several minor revisions to the consignor’s taste, which included the modification of the driver’s seat, headliner, and the fabrication of a custom sports exhaust system. At this time, the car also received a new fuel bladder.
Since release from DK Engineering’s care, CLK GTR number 07 has been a tremendously enjoyed, regularly driven, and widely seen example from the consignor’s impeccably curated stable of limited-production supercars. Notable exhibitions during the consignor’s ownership include highly acclaimed showings at the Amelia Island Concours d’Elegance and Lime Rock Historics.
However, CLK GTR number 07’s true claim to fame, notwithstanding its excellent provenance and well-documented history, is the fact that it is certainly the most widely known example of this exclusive model on account of the stellar 2021 “Ultimate Group Test” video series by Carfection Films in which it starred alongside the McLaren F1 chassis 037 and Porsche 911 GT1 chassis 005. At time of cataloguing, this video series has garnered just shy of 3 million views on YouTube, and the entirety of the series was also mirrored at length in print by Octane magazine.
Presented today with fewer than 7,015 kilometers (4,358 miles) at the time of cataloguing, this incredible example of Mercedes-Benz’s most exclusive and highly sought-after homologation special presents superbly and is accompanied by all original accessories, including three original AMG “Elephants feet,” manuals, and a serialized charger and luggage set.
Though CLK GTR number 07 has been fitted with a bespoke set of larger OZ light alloy wheels and tires commissioned by SPS, its original wheels and factory exhaust system, which was the exhaust system fitted to the car upon federalization, accompany the sale, as does a folio of service invoices from DK Engineering, JK Technologies, and SPS Automotive.
The CLK GTR Coupe is likely the closest a roadgoing Mercedes-Benz production car will ever come to its race-ready sibling. Its performance figures are downright mind-blowing, and this incredible specimen is currently offered for sale at the precise moment when HWA AG has begun its 25th Anniversary celebrations, with the CLK GTR being, of course, the most significant product of the constructor’s storied history and one of the most significant models in the long and proud heritage of Mercedes-Benz’s legendary “Silver Arrow” lineage.
Considering the CLK GTR’s status as among the rarest German sports racing cars ever produced, it holds true to the valued traditions of homologated GT racing and has cemented its place in history as an instant classic among classics.