CLK GTR | Mercedes-AMG Specifications and Review
When the International Touring Car Championship folded in 1996, Mercedes’ luxury-car subsidiary, AMG, was suddenly left without a showcase. A new one was soon found: the FIA GT Championship. The entry requirement for any car was that a minimum of twenty-five examples of that car should be produced. Mercedes did not have a car, so to ensure the AMG team could participate in the first race of the 1997 season; FIA officials moved the deadline by which the production cars had to be ready. It was moved from before racing started … to December 31,1997.
AMG hurriedly got to work. It designed and built its first two CLK GTRs in only 128 days, just in time for the first round of the championship. There, the CLK began poorly, losing the first three rounds to McLaren. AMG officials decided not to race at Le Mans, but take advantage of the enforced layoff to improve the CLK and close the gap on McLaren. The decision proved a wise one. Mercedes-AMG proceeded to dominate the remainder of the season, winning both the driver’s and constructor’s titles and having its driver, Bernd Schneider, crowned World Champion.
The CLK GTR’s carbon-fiber monocoque chassis was vaguely reminiscent of the CLK road car, but a very confined, almost claustrophobic cockpit inflicted a like-it-or-not upright driving posture. And getting out through its gull-wing doors was only funny if one happened to be a bystander when one pulled up.
The remainder of the twenty-five road-going examples required were produced in 1998 and 1999. The CLK GTR’s exclusivity and rocketlike performance made it one of the great supercars of the 1990s.
1997 • 365 cu in/5,986 cc, V12 • 604bhp/456kW • 0-60mph/97 kph in 3.8 seconds • 214mph/345 kph