On Friday, November 17, at the start of the first Las Vegas F1 Weekend, RM Sotheby’s will hold an auction of 38 lots. On offer are some of the most exotic cars one could hope to get their hands on, from a 1957 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Roadster to a 2022 McLaren 765LT Spider.
In between we have the likes of a 1996 Bugatti EB110 Super Sport, a 2008 Bugatti Veyron 16.4, a 2012 Lexus LFA Nürburgring Package, a 2021 McLaren Elva, a Splandiid 1970 Mercedes-Benz 280 SE 3.5 Cabriolet, and a number of Ferrari’s and Porsche’s. However, the headlines at this event belong to Mercedes. A pair of CLK GTRs would have been the undisputed stars of the auction had it not been for the F1 W04.
Officially titled Mercedes-AMG Petronas F1 W04 of the 2013 season, this is the car that delivered Hamilton’s first Mercedes F1 victory, and helped launch a championship-winning dynasty. It is also the sole example to be sold outside of the Mercedes organization. Not surprisingly, the car with chassis number F1W04-04 has an auction estimate of USD 10 to 15 million.
Unveiled in February 2013, at the Jerez track in southern Spain, Mercedes-AMG’s F1 W04 model was the team’s final car to feature a naturally aspirated V-8 engine, as the hybrid V-6 formula took effect for the 2014 season. Power came from a 2.4-liter V-8 with an 18,000-rpm redline, producing 750 horsepower with an additional 80 horsepower on tap through the KERS system.
The engine was paired with a seven-speed semi-automatic transmission, developed jointly with Xtrac. It was the first to feature front-to-rear inter-connected suspension (FRIC) for improved mechanical grip and the last Mercedes-AMG F1 car with a high nose. By Mercedes-AMG’s own admission, the W04 represented the biggest single leap in car performance the team had ever made at that point in time.
In his very first season with Mercedes, chassis F1W04-04 was driven by Hamilton in 14 of the 19 races of the 2013 season. He would finish the season fourth in the driver’s championship with five pole positions and five podium finishes. Four of those podium finishes were accomplished in this car, including third-place finishes at the Malaysian Grand Prix, the Chinese Grand Prix, and the Belgian Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s crowning achievement that season was a dominating performance at the Hungarian Grand Prix in July 2013. In that race, Hamilton qualified in the pole position and piloted the F1W04-04 to an impressive first-place finish, 10.9 seconds ahead of second-placed Kimi Räikkönen.
Although Hamilton did not win the F1 championship in 2013, it set the stage for what would become the most successful dynasty in motorsport history as Hamilton went on to pilot the Silver Arrows to six Driver’s Championships over seven years, while contributing to eight consecutive Constructors’ Championships for Mercedes-AMG between 2014 and 2021 – the most successful dynasty in modern motorsport.
Second on the auction leaderboard in Las Vegas is a 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR Roadster, with an estimate of USD 10 to 13 million. Any CLK GTR coming to market is momentous, but is more so in the case of a CLK GTR Roadster. The car being offered in Las Vegas – chassis number 000034 – is the third of just six roadster examples ever built. Additionally, it has a well-documented history and extremely low mileage. This beautifully maintained CLK GTR Roadster is finished in silver paint over a black and grey leather interior.
The CLK GTR Roadster is the convertible variant of the CLK GTR “Straßenversion” coupe – the road-legal version of the marque’s FIA GT Championship-winning supercar. A single roadster version was initially built during the coupe’s production run of 25 cars. The result proved to be so enticing that five more examples were eventually greenlighted for production on spare CLK GTR chassis after the coupe production had concluded.
HWA – an independent racing concern by AMG founder Hans-Werner Aufrecht – received a contract for the roadster build, which required a number of modifications from the original design. The removal of the roof and its massive single-air intake necessitated new intakes for the 6-litre M120 V-12 engine to be positioned to the sides. Further revisions included door-mounted mirrors, integrated roll-hoops behind the seats, and a new front grille and rear wing.
The CLK GTR Roadster, being an extremely rare open-top version of the marque’s FIA GT Championship-winning supercar, may be regarded as the pinnacle of the model’s production, cementing the car’s status as the apogee of twentieth-century sports car design.
The CLK GTR Roadster is followed by its hard top counterpart with an estimate of USD 8,000,000 – 9,000,000. The CLK GTR, alongside the McLaren F1 and Porsche 911 GT1, forms the vaunted “GT1 Trinity” – rarified, contemporaneous rivals that contested the FIA GT1 class and thus represent the apogee of late-nineties racing sportscar development.
Of these three legendary models, the CLK GTR has always been the most exclusive, and this comprehensive allure is concretely bolstered by the model’s absolute dominance over its rivals en route to back-to-back FIA GT1 Championships in 1997 and 1998. A performance so dominant that it effectively caused the collapse of the motorsport series for which it was designed.
The roadgoing variant of the CLK GTR had a world-record sticker price in excess of USD 1.5 million. This did little to dissuade any of the 300-or-so buyers AMG secured for its FIA-required series of just 25 homologation examples. In the end, only 20 CLK GTR Coupes were produced by HWA AG and AMG’s Special Vehicle Construction Office between 1998 and 1999. The other five being the Roadster variants.
The CLK GTR Coupe being offered at Las Vegas bears the Serial Number 07/25. This particular car’s true claim to fame, notwithstanding its excellent provenance and well-documented history, is the fact that it is certainly the most widely known of the CLK GTR Coupes. It is the car that appeared in the 2021 “Ultimate Group Test” video series by Carfection Films in which it starred alongside the McLaren F1 chassis 037 and Porsche 911 GT1 chassis 005.
With around 7000 kilometres on the odometer, GTR number 07’s interior and exterior colour combination are clear references to Mercedes-Benz’s racing heritage: The exterior remains finished in the company’s official racing colour of Iridium Silver Metallic, while the competition-inspired cockpit is trimmed in blue-grey tartan gabardine fabric, which harkens back to the 1955 Mille Miglia-winning 300 SLR racecar of Sir Stirling Moss and navigator Denis Jenkinson. Only two other GTR Coupes are known to feature this fashionable upholstery pattern.
The CLK GTR Coupe is likely the closest a roadgoing Mercedes-Benz production car will ever come to its race-ready sibling. Its performance figures are downright mind-blowing, and this incredible specimen is currently offered for sale at the precise moment when HWA AG has begun its 25th Anniversary celebrations, with the CLK GTR being, of course, the most significant product of the constructor’s storied history and one of the most significant models in the long and proud heritage of Mercedes-Benz’s legendary “Silver Arrow” lineage.