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Mercedes and McLaren – the end of the road

Sat, 05 Dec 2009

The last SLR Stirling Moss ends the McLaren Mercedes relationship

Times they are a changin’ for Mercedes & McLaren. The very last Mercedes McLaren SLR – The McLaren SLR Stirling Moss – has now rolled out of production at McLaren in Woking and both Mercedes and McLaren are going their seperate ways. McLaren is working to bring the new McLaren MP4-12C to market by 2011 as a replacement for the SLR, and Mercedes has already launched their replacement – the Mercedes SLS AMG Gulllwing – although it will be a few more months before cars hit the road.

Even with F1 Mercedes and McLaren have gone their different ways. Mercedes owned 40% of McLaren F1, but that is now being sold back to McLaren. Mercedes has bought Brawn GP to form Mercedes GP and McLaren have taken world chamion Jensen Button away from the grasp of Mercedes to drive alongside Lewis Hamilton in 2010. But there will still be a link as Mercedes are to continue to supply engines to McLaren for F1.

But what of the Mercedes McLaren SLR? How will it be remembered? That is actually quite a hard call. It had the makings as one of the great Supercars, but somehow it never quite got there. You always got the feeling that McLaren considered it to much of a bloater; too much of a ‘Corporate’ Supercar to really be a proper McLaren. Mercedes were always less than enamoured of McLaren’s fierce independence and friction between the two companies has been the backdrop for their relationship for much of their collaboration.

But the SLR will at least be remembered as a high-selling Supercar. More than 2000 McLaren SLRs have been produced at Woking in the last five years and love it or hate it the SLR has been a success . There have been five official variants – The SLR Coupe, the SLR Roadster, the SLR 722 Coupe, the SLR 722 Roadster and the SLR Sterling Moss – but there are a few racing variants around. In fact there are plans in place to launch an SLR 722 GT series in the US, centred on tracks like Monticello in New York, where affluent petrol heads can go and pretend to be Stirling Moss – at a price.

The extremely heavy SLR is now becoming something of a dinosaur. Both the SLS AMG and the MP4-12C will offer more performance at around half the price. But with 2000 cars on the road and the planned race series in the US, the SLR will be around for a long time to come. Mercedes and McLaren have seen fit to issues a Final Mercedes McLaren SLR Press Release to eulogise the SLR’s history. It’s worth the read.

By Cars UK