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19 May 2009
Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss

What is it?

This is the Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss, created as a parting gesture in the road car collaboration between Mercedes-Benz and McLaren. It costs a breathtaking £660,000. And for that vast amount of cash you don’t even get a windscreen or a roof.

Such luxuries have been deleted in a programme that has pared 200kg off the Merecedes SLR’s kerb weight, bringing it down to 1551kg. The basis is the standard SLR roadster’s carbonfibre monocoque. It has been further developed with beefed-up sills which, together with an extra crossmember behind the seats, make the Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss one of the most structurally rigid open-top cars ever.

Those sills make climbing in rather tricky, but once you’re there, the view is like nothing else, with a long bonnet sweep that plunges away out front.

The two-seat cabin has been pared back to essential basics, all trimmed in a mix of carbonfibre and leather. Should you expect more for £660k? Possibly, but I doubt potential owners will complain.

The Mercedes SLR Stirling Moss receives the same engine as the SLR 722, with 641bhp and 604lb ft. It endows the car with truly colossal performance; Mercedes claims 0-62mph in just 3.5sec.

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What’s it like?

The great thing is, this pace is just a nudge of the throttle away. With a five-speed automatic ’box sending drive to the rear wheels, there’s no tricky clutch to contend with as you fire the SLR Stirling Moss from the line. Traction control working overtime, it lifts its nose ever so slightly, squats at the rear and catapults forward with the sort of abandon you’d expect from a street-legal race car.

You sit exposed to the elements, so the ever-present roar being thrown back from up front enters your head and doesn’t leave. Passing beyond a high-pitched mechanical whine at low revs, it shifts into a deep exhaust blare nearer the redline. The blast of wind rushing over the bonnet (enclosed goggles are a must) accentuates the feeling of speed.

As you accelerate hard up to and beyond 100mph, wind buffeting and various vibrations begin to blur your vision. On the motorway, you can call up 150mph without any hint of strain from the engine – and there’s still a further 67mph to come.

Directional stability is good by open-top standards. The set-up is inherently firm, but there’s still sufficient travel in the suspension to stop it from being thrown off line by bridge expansion joints. However, larger irregularities send nasty jolts through the chassis, so you need to choose your back roads with caution.

The steering, compromised by a 12.2-metre turning circle and a penchant for tramlining, is not whip-crack fast, but with measured inputs it proves confidence-inspiring enough. There is a faint trace of body roll, but it’s not going to upset the cornering line to a great degree.

The lack of a windscreen and roof structure have lowered the centre of gravity dramatically, translating to sharper turn-in and an ability to carry greater speed through corners than you get in the standard SLR.

Building up to the limits of adhesion takes time. But I’m not sure my nerves would have been up to the job of sending £660,000 of motor car into a smoky drift – not on public roads, at any rate.

However, a spell alongside former F1 star Mika Hakkinen in the car showed that there is a good deal of progressiveness once the grip limit is breached. By then you’re really travelling, but the colossal brakes and a brake flap (which shifts the centre of pressure towards the rear) help to wipe off speed.

Should I buy one?

Some will see the SLR Stirling Moss as nothing but a marketing folly. It initially comes across as a throwback to a bygone era. But there is a good deal of substance here, too. Aggressive and involving, this car possesses the singularity of focus that we had all hoped the original SLR would contain.

Join the debate


20 May 2009

I recently saw a pre production car whilst visiting the Woking facility..... I just dont get it, I think it is ugly in comparasion to the "roofed" SLR's. Sorry.

20 May 2009

More like a Smart Crossblade tribute model than Sitrling Moss ;o)

20 May 2009

The litmus test with cars like this has to be 'do I want one'. And the short answer is no: too ugly, too heavy. And saying 'it's agile despite it's size' is like saying Cher is good for her age: you still wouldn't.

Even the passenger in the photo has taken to wearing a blindfold to avoid it's looks. frankly I'd have to wear a bag as well to avoid beinbg seen in one.

20 May 2009

I don't get this review - why is it more focussed than the other SLR's? Because it has no roof? I'd take a roofed version any day of the week. Or save a shedload of cash and get a Merc SL55/65 AMG! 230SL is right about the Smart Crossblade comparison!

On another matter, is it my imagination or is 'tramlining' being mentioned in every other Autocar review these days? It seems to be that there is less and less to criticise on cars nowadays and so some rather dubious negatives appear in reviews such as tramlining, being 'under wheeled', 'progressive' braking or lack of, steering being 'dead' at the centre, and - for goodness sake - performance over 'expansion joints'!!

20 May 2009

I agree with Sandy T but I'm not too fussed about the weight issue in this and other reviews - I seem to remember the Porsche Carrera GT, which Autocar and many others claimed at the time was the best supercar ever, weighs in at about 1500kg or thereabouts. But because its a Porsche they didn't moan about it.

20 May 2009

To my eyes its better looking than the standard SLR and a heck of a lot nicer than the equivalent Veritas monstrosity. Looks like it could do with a little flip up clear perspex screen to remove a little of the wind blast, but this is after all a posing car for places like California, not some trackday monster.

Not sure about the Stirling Moss name, but I'd rather have this than an SL black.

20 May 2009

If one of these came trundling down the high street it would just look out of this world.

It weighs less than an M3, and people love cars like that. I would love to have one to cruise around in - with a Simpson Diamondback helmet on of course (a la Stig)!


I'm The Ωmega Man, always talking to myself

20 May 2009

[quote TheOmegaMan]with a Simpson Diamondback helmet on of course[/quote]

To protect from fruit and other debris that will be launched at you by unimpressed roadside curmudgeons.

20 May 2009

217mph with no windscreen?

How do you breathe?


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