The Las Vegas Grand Prix weekend is now in full swing, and if you have a better vantage point for the festivities than the spectators thrown out from their grandstands because of Formula 1's mismanagement, you're probably set to have a great time. That especially rings true if you're taking part in the auctions happening this weekend around the event. RM Sotheby's has a number of desirable cars crossing the block, perhaps none so venerated as this 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR Roadster.
To a particular niche of enthusiasts who grew up on Need for Speed and the golden era of GT racing, the CLK GTR needs no introduction. It's literally one of the first results when you Google the words "homologation special," and it's instantly recognizable whether you're aware of its on-track prowess or not. In total, Mercedes made 28 roadworthy examples of the thing, including two prototypes. But it's the roof-free versions that are the most curious, both because they came a little later than the rest, and because the very idea of a no-lid variation of a race car designed to have one strikes a little contradictory.
These even rarer CLK GTRs were prepared by HWA, an entity started by Hans-Werner Aufrecht, one of AMG's co-founders, when Mercedes took AMG in-house in 1999 without the firm's motorsport arm. Exact power figures are unclear; CLK GTR Straßenversions are said to churn anywhere from about 600 to 655 horsepower, with the highest output reserved for the two hardtop SuperSport cars equipped with the largest, 7.2-liter version of Merc's M297 V12. These are said to make do with just 6.9 liters. What a pity.
Normally, the engine intake on a CLK GTR is found above the roof, but with no roof on the Roadster, it was relocated to both sides of the roll hoops. Additionally, the wide rear wing typically molded to blend seamlessly into the car's long tail was replaced with an item more closely resembling competition-spec hardware. Inside, however, these road-going CLK GTRs were flush with the latest in creature comforts for their day, including air conditioning, a state-of-the-art Harman/Kardon stereo system, and anti-lock brakes.
This particular CLK GTR Roadster is No. 3 of the run of six; it likely won't surprise you to know that one of those was originally commissioned by the Sultan of Brunei. It has just over 100 miles on the clock today and has passed between four owners since 2011, when the Silver Arrow was imported to the U.S. under Show and Display exemption. RM Sotheby's estimates it'll go for between $10.5 and $13 million when it's auctioned on Friday before the race, not coincidentally alongside a roofed version for a little less change. Buy 50 of these—had Mercedes made that many—and you'd have enough to cover the costs for the greatest spectacle in Grand Prix racing.
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