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The History of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

What happens when German carmaker Mercedes Benz joins forces with McLaren Automotive? You get one of most celebrated supercars ever built: The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren. SLR stands for "Sport, Light, Racing", which gives you a pretty good idea of what made this supercar so appealing. The designers and developers of the SLR were driven by the idea of taking the speed and handling of Formula 1 racing to the road as a production car. Ambitious? Yes, but team McLaren Mercedes refused to back down. The result was a functional, versatile supercar, comfortable with both a Sunday drive through the country, or a power drive around the track. Sold from 2003 to 2009, prominent owners of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren include: Michael Jordan, Paris Hilton, Carl Freer, Jay Leno, Robbie Williams and Ja Rule, among others.

An Introduction to the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

The SLR came in two body styles. The first was a 2 door coupe and the second a 2 door roadster. This mid-front engine, rear wheel drive high performance car came with a 5 speed automatic transmission with a curb weight of 3898 pounds. Designers decided to use carbon fiber for the body in order to keep the car as light as possible. The design and development of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren took cues from the Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR of 1955. The Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR was specifically designed and built for the 1955 World Sportscar Championship season. This event was a series of endurance races, and truly tested which entrant drove the best build. This ended up being Mercedes-Benz, as they ended up winning the championship.

To get a good idea of what the SLR was made of, we'll start with a brief look at the specs of the 2009 Roadster model, one of the last in the SLR line. This model started at around $500,750, was a 2-seater with rear wheel drive. The 2009 SLR's engine was a powerful 5.5 Liter, hand-crafted supercharged AMG V8, which provided the SLR with 617 bhp at 6500 rpm and maximum torque of 575 at 3200-5000. It came with a 5 speed, automatic transmission, a fuel capacity of 25.6 gallons, and 7.2 cubic feet of trunk space.

Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR Roadster

This version, called the Mercedes-Benz Vision SLR, was a concept car which made its debut in various car shows in 1999, such as the Frankfort Motor Show. In fact, one could consider this car the grand-daddy of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren . As it turns out, people became so enamored with this car that Mercedes-Benz decided to turn it into a production car for the masses. McLaren was then tasked with the job of taking this concept car and making it street legal, the start of the SLR.

The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722

In 2006 a variant of the SLR was introduced and called the "722". 722 is representative of champion driver Stirling Moss and his win in a Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR, which carried the number 722. In fact, 722 refers to the start time of 7:22 am at the Mille Miglia event in 1955. The 722 added more power to the SLR, upping it from 617 bhp to 641 bhp. Thus, giving the 722 a maximum speed of 209 mph. All this added power is courtesy of an AMG, V8 5.5 supercharged engine. Two variants were produced, the 722 GT in 2007 and the 722 S in 2009. As an interesting fact, in January 2021 famed basketball champion, Michael Jordan put his Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren 722 up for auction on Ebay Motors ( The winning bidder paid $245,700.00 for the car.

Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss Edition

The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Stirling Moss is another extremely rare variant of the SLR, and the last of the SLR line. The car was officially exhibited to the world in 2009 at the Detroit Auto Show. The Moss Edition has a 5.4 Liter, supercharged V8 engine, and has a top speed of 217 mph. Both top and windshield have been removed, but the exterior remains carbon fiber. The interior of the Moss Edition has been stripped down to its bare essentials. Only 75 production versions of the Moss Edition were made, making it a scarce buy for collectors.

The Rarest Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren: The McLaren Edition

Even if you're a fancier of the SLR, there's still a good chance you've never heard of this rare version, as only 25 of these concept cars were said to be built. After it was announced in April of 2008 that production of the SLR's would end, there was to be one more version: The McLaren Edition. In 2010 McLaren Special Operations, or MSO decided to give their beloved SLR one final curtain call. This SLR would be totally customizable to the customers specifications. This customization could include all of the variants except the Stirling Moss. Each of the 25 cars were to be modded by the customer. In the end, no two were alike.

Video Game Appearances

One solid mark of a supercar is its appearance in racing games, and the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is no exception. In fact, if you take a quick look at Internet Game Cars Database, you'll see that the list of racing games utilizing the SLR include:

  • Gran Turismo Franchise: 2009, 2010
  • Auto Club Revolution: 2013
  • Car Club: Tuning Storm: 2013
  • Gas Guzzlers Extreme: 2013
  • TrackMania United: 2006
  • Project Gotham Racing: 2005
  • Sims 3: 2009
  • Saints Row IV: 2013
  • Saints Row III: 2011
  • Forza Franchise
  • Need for Speed Franchise

So, if you're in the mood to get a feel for how the SLR handles and you don't have deep pockets, you could give one of these simulation racing games a try.

Where to Buy a Pre-Owned Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren

If you tried but failed to purchase Michael Jordan's SLR, fear not for there are plenty of used McLaren SLR's up for sale online. However, in order to get a qualified McLaren, it's best to avoid your basic automotive ads, and go straight to the source: McLaren Automotive. Another good place to start looking for a pre-owned Mercedes-Benz SLR is the DuPont Registry.


The Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is the result of inspiration and innovation. This high performance supercar resides within a class all by itself. However, in spite of its impressive stats, sales fell below expectations and the SLR was discontinued. Initially, team Mercedes-McLaren cited a sales goal of 500 cars per year, with a total of 3500 cars sold during its production cycle. Unfortunately, by the end of 2007 only 1400 SLR's were sold. As a result, it was officially announced in April of 2008 that production of the SLR would cease.

Benjamin Smith

Written by Benjamin Smith

Benjamin Smith is one of the managing editors of Moneyinc. Ben's been focusing on the auto and motorcycle sector since 2005. He's written over 1000 articles in the space and continues to learn about it each day. His favorite car is "any Bugatti" and he's a die hard Harley Davidson fan.

Read more posts by Benjamin Smith

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