There is only one thing to do after hammering a Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR around a track: drive it home. In the pantheon of rare machines, this one finds itself near the top of the list with other brilliant homologation specials.
Mercedes-Benz spent years competing in the International Touring Car Championship with the likes of Opel and Alfa Romeo, but when that series shuttered in 1996, Mercedes-Benz turned its attention elsewhere. Namely: the FIA GT Championship. There, the automaker would face off against sharper competition from Porsche and Ferrari. It needed a new brawler to keep the pace.
Mercedes-AMG engineers came up with the CLK GTR. There were two variations. The first came from the race shop with a 6.0-liter V-12 engine that produced approximately 600 horsepower. Later variations would see that number climb to 630. A 6-speed sequential transmission handled shifting duty. The driveline rested in a beautiful chassis made from an aluminum and carbon fiber honeycomb monocoque. It was a force of nature, and it was built quickly. From drawing board to the first race of the 1997 season, it took Mercedes-Benz 128 days to design, engineer, and build the car.
That’s not to say it was a weapon right out of the box. Early season fumbles meant the CLK GTR didn’t make the podium until the fourth round at the Nürburgring. After that, the car took five more wins, thereby securing both the manufacturer and driver championships.
The second variation was built to compete at Le Mans, and featured what was thought to be a more durable 6.0-liter V-8. That reasoning proved untrue, as the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans saw both of the entered CLK LMs bow out of the race with engine failures.
Road cars like this one, however, retained the big V-12. Mercedes-Benz built just 25 examples, and if the car is rare, seeing one driven as intended is even more unique. Check it out, hear its glorious sounds, and revel in the rarity in the video above.