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Race car for the road – the Mercedes Stirling Moss


Mercedes-Benz is commemorating one of the greatest driving performances in motor racing history – and closing the SLR story – with an ultra-exclusive version of the McLaren SLR

The SLR Stirling Moss two-seater has neither a roof nor a windscreen, in the spirit of the 300 SLR roadster in which Moss and the late Dennis Jenkinson won the 1955 Mille Miglia road race in Italy.

Moss and Jenkinson drove the 1955 SLR to victory in the famous Italian road race – run on semi-closed roads – in 10 hours seven minutes and 48 seconds, one of the greatest racing feats ever.

Jenkinson used a form of pacenotes, written on a continuous roll of paper in the passenger’s side of the car, calling the corners and straights to Moss during the 1000 mile (1600km) race.

It may lack windscreens and hood, but Mercedes promises the 2009 special edition SLR’s driver and passenger “unadulterated high-speed excitement.”

To achieve that, it fits the SLR Stirling Moss with a 478kW (650 horsepower) supercharged V8 which will rocket the car to 100km/h in less than 3.5 seconds, and on to a dramatic top speed of 350km/h (217mph), placing it in sports racing car territory.

Mercedes will build only 75 Moss SLRs, starting in June 2009 when production of regular SLRs stops.

Mercedes describes the Moss SLR as “extremely sophisticated and yet at the same time decidedly spartan.”

Two wind deflectors a couple of centimetres high direct airflow over and past the driver and passenger. Two air scoops integrated into the bodywork serve as roll-over bars (the 1995 sports racer had two prominent headrest/fairings behind Moss and Jenkinson).

Mercedes says the sports racer-like design, without windscreen or side windows presents the driver and passenger with “a previously unheard of intensity, conveying a driving experience in its purest and most sensual form (and) the kind of open-air feeling that is utterly unique for a roadgoing vehicle.”

The bodywork is lightweight carbon fibre and has a pronounced arrow shape enhanced by an elongated bonnet and a compact, muscular rear.

Black-painted ventilation gills mounted facet-like on the sides and on the bonnet evoke the 1950s ports racer. Driver and passenger enter the car through swing-wing doors which open forwards.

Two tonneau covers are stowed in the boot. With the passenger tonneau fitted the driver is enclosed in a 1950s-style sports racing car cockpit. With both in place the car is secure from would-be thieves.

The interior has a Spartan luxury, using carbon fibre, aluminium and fine-quality leather seats that wear a tartan pattern like the seats in mid-1950s Mercedes racing cars. An aluminium plate around the gear lever carries Stirling Moss’s engraved signature.

The Moss SLR has a closed underbody and a diffuser in the rear bumper for maximum rear downforce. Like the 1955 SLR racer, the Moss has an air-brake that raises during heavy braking at speeds above 120km/h.

Price? Mercedes isn’t saying, but the Moss won’t be available for general sale anyway. This final version of the current SLR – Mercedes refers to it as the SLR’s crowning glory – will be offered only as a “very special thank you to the most loyal of SLR customers. They are the only ones able to acquire a Stirling Moss.”


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