McMerc SLR Stirling Moss

Posted by Jason Barlow at 5:12 pm on Wednesday August 26, 2009

With Mercedes and McLaren now going their separate ways, at least when it comes to road cars, can we assume that they’ve agreed to disagree?

I’ve already driven the AMG Merc SLS, and it’s a belter. I’ve also seen the new McLaren road car, and it features a handful of technical advancements that’ll blow your mind. To be honest, these are the products of people who seem happier working apart. It’s for the best. Which leaves the SLR looking increasingly like the child of an unhappy marriage. And the SLR Stirling Moss as what – a child with no head?

To be honest, we were lucky to get this car. Only 75 will be made, and though they’re inching their way down the immaculate McMerc production line in Woking as you read this, most are destined for the private collections of those wealthy enough to spend £650,000 on a car with no roof and no windscreen.

Enjoy it, because you will almost certainly never see it again.

So our time with the SLR SM, after years of doing daft things in daft places in daft cars, ranks right up there in the grand scheme of things. In terms of sheer theatre, this is Richard Burton essaying the role of Hamlet. We got up horribly early to drive our convoy through central London, just for the hell of it, and the SLR SM was the undisputed star.

You might think it difficult to find something that could upstage an orange Lamborghini Murciélago SV, and you’d be right. But this car managed it, even with Paul Horrell at the wheel.

But it’s definitely a bit silly. We should stress that the vehicle you see here is far from the real deal dynamically, and came with a bloke in a truck and instructions on what was permitted and what wasn’t. This was a bit like having Megan Fox on a shoot, only to be told she turns into Miriam Margoyles if you let her eat crisps.

Except that I’m not sure you can really compare the SLR SM to the fragrant Miss Fox. She certainly has the edge proportionally, and chopping the upper structure doesn’t bring much in the way of harmony to the SLR’s already cartoonish shape.

The new lights and air intake ape Rudy Uhlenhaut’s incomparable mid-Fifties original, but that car’s grace and poise have been usurped by fashionable aggression. Every major body panel has been changed, and you can be sure that the re-engineering will have been done to the highest possible standard. But it ain’t what you’d call pretty.

On the other hand, nothing else here even gets close to the sensation of sitting in the SLR SM. You obviously need a lid to travel quickly in it, but even that won’t insulate you from the view ahead over the vast expanse of bulkhead and bonnet. As well as A-pillars and roof, the SM has also lost a lot of its interior, and most of its toys.

The big eyeball air vents and stitched seats nod to the original, but the SLR’s flip-topped gear-lever ’n’ starter button combo has been replaced with a little lever. Why? Various other buttons, including the ESP one the use of which is expressly verboten, now live in a binnacle between the seats. Why again?

Why indeed. Insert the key (same as an A-Class key, coincidentally), turn it, push starter button. The 5.4-litre, 650bhp supercharged V8 explodes into life, and even at idle it pummels your head. Into ‘D’, and ease gently off. Sweet Jesus, this is a strange sensation. Apply brakes… bloody hell, they’re a bit sharp. Maybe the finished thing will be better, though the SLR’s were never quite right.

Enter traffic; feel a bit silly.

You need balls the size of Jupiter to get away with this thing. Still, most people are smiling so that’s alright. Exit roundabout and, oh go on then, floor it. Car emits a huge rumble, side exit exhausts belch, SLR SM teleports to the next roundabout.

Travelling from 0-62mph in 3.5 seconds in something with no roof is actually physically painful, as the wind whips your face. Anyone even vaguely jowly would end up looking like the late, great Sir John Mortimer. Apply brakes. Oh dear.

Later on, we all agree the SLR SM is a handful, and probably way too big for most of our meagre British roads. The SLR’s notoriously over-eager turn-in has gone, thank God, and the SM’s steering is actually pretty good. Nevertheless, Paul Horrell wryly but rightly observes that while it’s the most powerful car here, it’s also the slowest. We’re all a bit bemused. Some of us are also unnerved.

Mercedes and McLaren have both moved on. The SLR SM is an amusing footnote to their collaborative adventure.

But nothing more.

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  1. GOD said...
    Thursday August 27, 2009 at 7:40 pm Link to comment Report comment

    first coment

  2. jesus said...
    Thursday August 27, 2009 at 7:56 pm Link to comment Report comment

    second comment

  3. lucky said...
    Thursday August 27, 2009 at 8:34 pm Link to comment Report comment

    that is one hell of car and it is my favourite as well and just look at it is’nt it beutiful

  4. saad said...
    Friday August 28, 2009 at 7:00 am Link to comment Report comment

    STUNNING!!!

  5. ernest lim yen cheon said...
    Friday August 28, 2009 at 7:23 am Link to comment Report comment

    nice car.fifth.

  6. Tak said...
    Friday August 28, 2009 at 9:55 am Link to comment Report comment

    In one aspect it’s a worthy tribute to the original: it’ll never be driven. One of them will be displayed in a museum without ever doing more than 15 mls or so, the rest will be lost to mankind. This is the fat lady singing and now the show’s truly over.

  7. Twister said...
    Friday August 28, 2009 at 12:59 pm Link to comment Report comment

    seventh comment

  8. The_GTS said...
    Friday August 28, 2009 at 6:31 pm Link to comment Report comment

    Sounds like you’d have to give it the road space and respect you’d give a lorry. Want to go down roads ‘Unsuitable for heavy goods vehicles’? Sounds like you need to get another car. I suppose it would reach its potential – if it was built to have a truly great one – on flat open tracks like Dunsfold.
    You lucky buggers.

  9. Scuderia1995 said...
    Saturday August 29, 2009 at 10:51 am Link to comment Report comment

    That car looks BEEEEEST

  10. CRobbo said...
    Sunday August 30, 2009 at 6:50 pm Link to comment Report comment

    I dont mind this car, it has lots of power, it looks pretty extreme and it is really fast but for £640,000???!!? You could buy two Carrera GT Porsches for the price of that and we all know which is the better car.

  11. Lukeage9 said...
    Tuesday September 1, 2009 at 12:02 pm Link to comment Report comment

    This car looks and is absolutely bonkers.
    And I really like it! But I think that the bonnet is a bit too long (well really, it’s very
    long!) The 5.4 V8 Supercharged engine is just right and because it’s roofless the noise must be superb! This is probably the only thing that looks more over-the-top than the Honda Civic Mugen Type R. What does everybody else think?
    But for £640,000.00?! Definetly not worth that much!!

  12. ben777 said...
    Saturday September 26, 2009 at 5:56 pm Link to comment Report comment

    how much???????

  13. ben777 said...
    Wednesday September 30, 2009 at 7:59 pm Link to comment Report comment

    mindblowing!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  !!!!!

  14. arif said...
    Sunday November 22, 2009 at 12:24 pm Link to comment Report comment

    what???? the mercedes mclaren new car????? just like SLR mclaren

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  16. mak said...
    Monday August 16, 2010 at 5:49 am Link to comment Report comment

    It’s batter to have helicopter/chatter plain then this car… :) at the end car is going to run on a road and we know traffic problem of this world. I would say some concept is good but its batter if it does not turn to reality.

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  18. Pininfarina89 said...
    Sunday February 6, 2011 at 11:12 am Link to comment Report comment

    its a cool tribute car but for anything else i dont like it not to be a buzzkill but to me its ugly,overpriced and mostly unusable no roof and windows i can live with but at least give it a real windshield to atleast make it a fairweather car. and think about it $1.2 million for a car with no roof,no windows,no windshield,and no toys its basically just a showpiece.

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