Chassis #002 is the only one of its kind.
In 1998, Mercedes decided to make an official comeback (as chassis and engine constructor) at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race, after a 42 year absence following Pierre Levegh’s Mercedes SLR crash into the crowd, killing 84 spectators.
The engineers at AMG, which became the racing division of Mercedes, were convinced that only a much more compact engine, which would allow upgraded aerodynamics and more reliable than the V12 engine powering its 1997 AMG CLK GTR would achieve this goal. AMG made the strategic move to reintroduce the reliable and lighter “M119” 90° 5 liter V8 engine, tested eight years earlier on the Sauber Mercedes C11 Group C (however flange mounted from a 730 hp to a 600 hp to meet regulation requirements of the GT1 category).
A brand new chassis and a completely reworked aerodynamic body housed the mythical V8 engine: the CLK LM was born. Likewise with the CLK GTR in 1997, on top of the four CLK LM “racing” chassis, Mercedes AMG undertook towards the FIA to build 25 “street versions” of the CLK LM under the express obligation to present at least one finished model before its first race to take place on June 5th, 1998 at the Le Mans 24 Hour Race.
The factory immediately produced two “street version” – “Strassenversion” in German of the CLK LM: chassis #001 which will live out its destiny as a crash test version for German certification needs and chassis #002.
Chassis #002 was presented for the first time to the world’s media at the 1998 Le Mans 24 Hours. When compared to the 25 CLK GTRs “street version” produced, one quickly grasps how Mercedes AMG built above all a racecar that was hastily customized to look like a “road car” to meet the GT1 category requirements.
Thanks to chassis #002, Mercedes AMG will be entitled to register in 1998 for the FIA GT World Championship in the GT1 category, winning hands down the 1998 season since the CLK LMs will take first place in every race a unique feat in the history of the premier class GT1 category and furthermore make claim to a resounding pole position at the 1998 Le Mans 24 Hours, clocked at an average speed of 142 mph (230 km/h).
That could have been the end of the CLK LM Strassenversion‘s story leading to as was the case with the AMG CLK GTR and other McLaren F1 GTRs, Porsche GT1s and Panoz GTR 1s the making of 24 additional “street versions” … but the premature termination of the GT1 category at the end of 1998 will see Mercedes AMG sidestep this obligation, rendering the CLK LM #002 an orphan …
From the end of 1998 to 2013, the CLK LM Strassenversion belonged to a Japanese collector. Today it returns to European ownership and is shown to the public for the first time.
There is no other car in the world, cleared to drive on « public roads », that is more radical than the CLK LM Strassenversion. The only car for a road use with a V8 Sauber two times world champion.
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