Monday, January 5, 2009

First look: Mercedes Benz SLR Stirling Moss

First look: Mercedes Benz SLR Stirling Moss
Pushing the Hyperbole Envelope: Topless Tribute to Legendary Racer Hits 217 MPH

Limited edition $1.5 million speedster to send Mercedes-McLaren off in style

The Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss can accelerate to 62 mph in 3.5 sec. It's capable of 217 mph. Unimpressed? You night say that the Ferrari Enzo can touch 225 mph and the Corvette ZR1 barrels to 60 mph in 3.3 sec. So here's the twist - this SLR does its thing without roof, windows, and windshield.

Envision the wind buffeting you mercilessly at 150 mph or how a bug or rock would feel hitting you at that speed. That's the SLR Stirling Moss sensation. It's a car created as a tribute to the man crazy enough to drive a Formula 1-based car 1000 miles flat out at an average speed of nearly 100 mph -- all with little more than an open-face helmet and goggles protecting him from the violently onrushing air and debris.

For those uneducated in motorsport heroes of yesteryear, Moss is a bona-fide racing legend. Versatile as he was fast, he competed in both Le Mans and Formula 1 with much success. Later, he became known as "the greatest driver never to win the World Championship."

Moss' most prolific victory among the many he scored behind the wheel of a Mercedes came in the aforementioned endurance race: the 1955 Mille Miglia. There he piloted a Mercedes Benz 300SLR bearing the number 722, and covered 1000 miles in 10 hours/seven minutes/48 seconds.That's why this windshield-free SLR bears the Stirling Moss name.

Mercedes already celebrated Moss' victory two years ago with another Mercedes McLaren special edition called the SLR722, a car that received a modest power upgrade, badges, and shiny new wheels over the base SLR. The Stirling Moss goes much further.

Besides eliminating the glass and roof (there are a couple of tiny wind deflectors), Mercedes made dramatic changes to the bodywork, which is done entirely in carbon fiber like the SLR roadster.

Gone are the vents aft of the front wheels, in their place are dual exhaust pipes that exit straight through the bodywork, as they did in the 300. The side skirts have been raised, the doors trimmed, and the nose sharpened -- Silver Arrow style.

The headlights are a nod to the Mille Miglia winner, as are the air scoops behind the driver and passenger. Okay, the 300 just had one scoop, but we'll ignore this historical faux pas in the name of safety as the scoops double as rollbars.

The entire bodywork of the SLR Stirling Moss is made of fine lightweight carbon fibre and represents a stand-alone design concept. Whilst the Mercedes-Benz designers were working on the body of the new SLR Stirling Moss, they were fully aware at every single moment that they were creating a vehicle with a top speed of 350 km/h (217 mph). At the same time this supreme athlete is highly reminiscent of the SLR racing cars from the 1950s, whose design idiom still never fails to impress to this day.

Mercedes-McLaren SLR Stirling Moss echoes the great racer's 1955 Mille Miglia-winning car.

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