The Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR is an iconic car for many people of a certain age. The awesome looking CLK GTR race cars dominated the FIA GT championship in the late nineties and how many fans can forget seeing Mark Webber and Peter Dumbreck’s closely related CLRs literally go ballistic and flip at Le Mans in 1999. It was a car that was a Veyron of its day and in many respects was the spiritual successor to the modern hypercar alongside the McLaren F1. For homologation purposes Mercedes built 20 road going coupés and just six roadsters which cost just over £1 million to buy new.
Truly rare, this really is a car that you can’t just go out and buy – but a roadster will be going up for auction at Bonhams’ Festival of Speed sale in the next few weeks. Bonhams has put an estimate on the car of £1.4-1.8 million. But is it really worth that sort of money and what will a successful sale mean for the rapidly evolving “classic” hypercar market?
Let’s consider what sort of person buys a CLK GTR? The Sultan of Brunei owned a RHD roadster which should give you a pretty good idea. Jamie Knight, head of Bonhams’ motoring department and the man responsible for selling the car, points out that there is a good chance that the new owner will be one of a new breed of ultra-wealthy collectors that are increasingly active in this market place and it is more likely that the car will end up in the Middle East, Asia or America than Europe. As he points out, it is a genuine trophy car that really stretches the imagination. He also points out that manufacturers have come a long way from building outrageous and expensive supercars for homologation and marketing purposes – that they hoped and prayed they could sell – to the hypercars of today which are instant classics with corresponding waiting lists and appreciation curves. In his own words, “hypercars have become a new part of the collector car market”. A good point and one that, combined with a high profile sale such as this, could well lead to an increased focus from collectors on nineties supercars such as the Jaguar XJ220 and Bugatti EB110.
The CLK GTR in question has covered just 8 kilometers since new which should appeal to lovers of low mileage and probably means it will only ever turn a wheel to creep back onto the Stuttgart-bound transporter for an annual service. The good news is that if the new owner does want to let it loose it is ready to roll having been in the care of Mercedes-Benz themselves until very recently – although you have to wonder why they let it go in the first place…
This is a truly exotic animal and I couldn’t help but think of Noah releasing the dove into the great unknown – read into that whatever symbolism you like but wouldn’t it be fantastic to see that car out there, roaming freely in the wild and I for one would like to shake the hand of the person who chose to do that. The alternative is that simply owning one of these cars is enough excitement for the new owner and it goes into hibernation, unless the classic hypercar market begins to boil and they decide to flip it (pun intended).