19 December 2008

Stirling silver

Merc’s SLR Stirling Moss: the coolest car of the year? It just might be…

Mercedes McLaren SLR Stirling Moss

It’s not often the entire Top Gear office is stopped in its collective tracks, rendered speechless by a new car.

This is one of those moments.

This is the Mercedes McLaren SLR Stirling Moss, and – well, just look at it. This isn’t one of those high concepts that’ll never ever make production. This exists.

Essentially, the Stirling Moss (maybe we’ll just it the Moss from now on, then) is the speedster version of Merc’s soon-to-cease-production SLR supercar, so there’s no roof, windows or screen – just a couple of tiny wind deflectors as defence against the air rushing towards you at 217mph.

Yes, that’s how fast the Moss goes, thanks to a fettled-up version of Merc’s 5.4-litre V8 putting out 641bhp. It’ll hit 60mph in 3.4 seconds – even quicker than the hard-top or roadster – which puts the Moss in true hypercar territory, and makes it the quickest windscreen-less road car on the planet by a mile. We approve.

We approve of the name, too. Stirling Moss was a proper legend behind the wheel of his SLR racer in the 1950s: he still holds the Mille Miglia record at just a fraction over 10 hours. That’s an average of almost 92mph. On roads. That’s astonishing. That’s why he deserves to be honoured.

It’s a exclusive bit of, er, honouring: just 75 speedster SLRs will be built, starting in June 2009, just after production of the SLR Roadster finishes. They’ve all been sold already, to current SLR owners, for 750,000 Euros each (that’s about £700,000 at current not-very-good exchange rates). But they did at least get a couple of tonneau covers to keep things dry in the rain.

Oh, and a whole bunch of exciting new aero-trickery: a bigger rear diffuser, closed underbody and a big airbrake out back that automatically deploys over 75mph, but can also be manually raised by the driver for added downforce.

But imagine. Just imagine belting across Italy on a sunny summer’s day, wind battering your helmet, the bellow of that big V8 just in front of you, and the spirit of Stirling Moss in your veins. Yeah, we could do that…

Read more about the SLR Stirling Moss in the January issue of Top Gear magazine, on sale December 30. 

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