The late 1990s saw the elevation of the BPR Global GT Series to an FIA-sanctioned event, the FIA GT Championship. This piqued the interest of Mercedes who instructed AMG to construct a car to the Group GT1 regulations. To speed up the development process, AMG purchased McLaren F1 GTR chassis #11R from French privateers Larbre Compétition, which was then fitted with AMG's own bodywork along with substituting the F1 GTR's engine for Mercedes' own. This accelerated development process meant that the CLK GTR was ready for competition just 128 days after work on the design had begun.
The CLK GTR debuted at Mercedes' home track, the Hockenheimring, where Bernd Schneider qualified on pole. However, he later retired with brake problems, and the sister car finished 27th. Despite the setback, the CLK GTR would prove to be successful in the 1997 FIA GT Championship, winning six out of eleven races, the constructor's and the driver's championship by a large margin.
Following the success of the CLK GTR, Mercedes-Benz modified the CLK GTR to suit the long straights of the Circuit de la Sarthe, constructing a new chassis with revised bodywork. Fearing that the V12 would not last 24 hours, Mercedes replaced it with a modified version of the 5.0L M119 V8 engine from the Sauber C9. Though it was stripped of its turbos, the RPM capability was increased which resulted in a healthy 600hp. Due to the very high-speed demand in Le Mans, the aerodynamics had to be altered accordingly. Some of the alterations were deleting the two-brake cooling ducts in front and cutting out "gills" on top of the front fenders, redesigning the roof scoop and lowering the nose.
The changes proved successful initially as both cars entered in the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans qualified on pole and third respectively, however, problems with the power steering oil pump ultimately caused both CLK LMs to retire from the race.
Mercedes went on to use CLK LMs for the rest of the 1998 FIA GT Championship. The two cars shared pole position between them throughout the season, and won every single race, posting six 1–2 finishes.
The car we are thrilled to offer for sale is chassis 005 and is believed to be one of just 4 CLK LM race cars produced by Mercedes-Benz. This particular car was used in period by the factory as a test vehicle before being sold by Mercedes AMG soon after the 1998 season. It went on to spend a long period in Japan where it resided in a private collection. It was then purchased by a French collector in 2013 before being sold to its current owner in June, 2017. During the last few years, it has taken pride of place in a renowned U.K. car collection and has been displayed at numerous concours events and motor shows around the country.
In April 2021, the car received a major overhaul with Sporting & Historic Car Engineers in Banbury, Oxfordshire, during which, a new fuel tank and fuel pumps were fitted, all four carbon discs were refaced, the fire extinguisher system was replaced, and the suspension refreshed. The car has also since been made fully road legal and is currently U.K. registered with taxes paid.
The opportunities to acquire a CLK LM are few and far between and this car would make a fantastic addition to any collection and would be welcomed with open arms to a vast array of motorsport & Concours events around the world. Contact us now for more information or to arrange a viewing.