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Classic Merc racers set for Goodwood
184,320 minutes. 3, 072 hours. Exactly 128 days. That’s the precise length of time AMG took to build a prototype FIA GT racer that would dominate the 1997 and 1998 racing calendar. It’s the silver monster you’re about to look at, above.
Welcome, Internet, to the noise and the fury and the power of the Mercedes-Benz CLK-GTR. Built after the then DTM category folded in 1996, Merc wanted to continue racing and sketched out a proposal for one car to rule them all in the newly formed FIA GT championship.
The bright-eyed AMG engineers - whose stature and presence had exponentially grown since the company’s humble beginnings in an old mill in 1967 - then took just over four months to build the CLK-GTRs that would enter the season.
Each was equipped with a 6.9-litre Benz V12 producing 612bhp - later 630bhp - and despite a shaky start, soon found its racing feet. Bernd Schneider gave AMG Mercedes its first victory in this newly formed GT series in 1997, followed by a CLK-GTR lockout in 1998: the V12-engined beast piloted by Klaus Ludwig and Ricardo Zonta won all ten races, taking the drivers’ title and constructors title.
Why are we telling you this? Because for this year’s Goodwood Festival of Speed, Mercedes is bringing along a CLK-GTR to drive the world-famous hillclimb, along with the now-legendary W194 300 SL, which is 60 years old, the 1963 W111 30 SE racer and the W125 racer; a car that won its inaugural Grand Prix race at Tripoli.
Naturally, there’ll be a selection of new Merc metal too - including the SLS AMG and C63 AMG Black Series - along with “a couple of very special surprises”. We’ll let you know as soon as we get down to the Festival of Speed this year, held between 28 June to 1 July.
Have a click through the pictures and then tell us what your favourite old Merc racer is, below. The most interesting response gets absolutely nothing whatsoever, barring a wry smile from TG’s staff.