You only have to look at a Beverly Hills parking lot to see that both Mercedes and McLaren are among the most desirable exotic/luxury brands in the world. Yet there’s a supercar that wears both their names, looks like a Formula 1 car, and yet is hugely underappreciated.
You have to remember that this came out in 2003 and around that time we had the Pagani’s first supercar, the Zonda, and the Porsche GT. When new, they cost very similar money, but the Mercedes looked like an upgraded SL roadster and it had an automatic gearbox, like a luxury car. People just didn’t get it, so the SLR is often overlooked by collectors.
Not so with Tyler Hoover of Hoovies Garage. The YouTuber was at the recent Barrett-Jackson auction where he sold five of his cars, including the controversial Superbird restomod. Together, they netted him about $260,000, and he just couldn’t resist spending all of it on the Mercedes SLR.
If you’re a fan of his channel, you’ll know that while he owns and loves the Mercedes supercar that came just after this, the SLS AMG, he always wanted to own an SLR. They are a lot more expensive, but this particular example was struggling during the auction for reasons which may include possible fire damage. And so Tyler was compelled to buy the Mercedes supercar of his dreams.
The SLS was the first bespoke AMG model; before that, they were all based on existing Mercedes models. The SLR is even more interesting because it basically isn’t a Mercedes at all. McLaren was partly owned by Mercedes at the time, and the German automaker wanted to make an incredible supercar as a halo.
McLaren had just gotten done building the famous F1 and had an idle production facility. It had the crazy dihedral doors which McLaren is known for, as well as a carbon fiber tub, but it’s built to be practical. The SLR has a generic automatic gearbox and generic Mercedes radio. However, at the same time, it can drive at over 200 miles per hour for extended periods without breaking down.
Development of the supercar lasted for 4 years, and because Mercedes wanted to compete with Italian exotics, it knew it needed something special to put under the hood. A V8 engine called M155 SLR was developed from the existing M113. At 617 horsepower, it’s one of the most powerful engines of that era.
Mercedes gifted the SLR with a number of advanced systems. It was one of the first production vehicles with carbon ceramic brakes, which are fitted with something called Sensotronic brake control, automatically drying the rotors for optimal stopping power. Side exit exhausts are virtually unprecedented in the modern era, while the SLR also features active speed-sensing aero.
We’ve heard rumors that the brakes can cost as much as a$30,000 to replace. But here’s the thing. When Tyler bought the SLS AMG a while back, he spoke to SLR owners and they all said not to get one. The maintenance costs on this thing are ridiculously high. They’re not very reliable, and selling them can be quite difficult. But at least there’s a lot of cash left in the bank.
A little bit of digging reveals this particular SLR used to belong to Wayne Carini, who’s a legendary car restorer and TV personality. You might know him from Chasing Classic Cars. About a year ago, it was bought by James the brother of Dennis Collins, who now had to sell it at auction. Before these two fine gentlemen had owned it, the wiring harness may have caught fire around 2016.