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Benz SLR era ends

Racing out: The McLaren-made Mercedes-Benz SLR Stirling Moss is the last of the SLR line.

McLaren ends SLR production as the last of 2000 examples take shape

8 Dec 2009

THE last examples of the Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren have entered production and will roll off the Woking assembly line by the end of 2009, marking the end of an era for the much-maligned Anglo-German supercar.

The final iteration of the joint-venture vehicle between Mercedes-Benz and McLaren Automotive is the SLR Stirling Moss, a windscreen-less version of the ‘722 Edition’ Roadster whose 478kW/820Nm 5.4-litre supercharged V8 delivers 0-100km/h acceleration in 3.5 seconds and a 350km/h top speed.

The last of 75 versions will be produced by year’s end, bringing the total SLR production number to 2000 since 2004, including the Moss SLR and two coupe and two roadster derivatives.

Mercedes says that is “substantially more than any other sports car in this elite category” but the number falls short of the 3500 vehicles Benz had originally planned to sell over a seven-year model cycle, including annual production of 500 cars.

As a result, production will cease earlier than forecast at the end of 2009 and the SLR will be replaced in 2010 by the SLS AMG coupe, the first vehicle to be fully developed in-house by Mercedes-AMG.

4 center imageLeft: McLaren MP4-12C. Below: Mercedes-Benz SLS.

Unlike the auto-only SLR, which hailed from a time when DaimlerChrysler owned 40 per cent of McLaren Group, the SLS will come with Mercedes-Benz firsts such as an aluminium space-frame body and a seven-speed dual-clutch automated manual transmission positioned in a Ferrari-style rear transaxle.

Mercedes-Benz released a range of SLS images and details within hours of the reveal of McLaren’s all-new 2011 MP4-12C super-coupe on the eve of both models’ unveiling at the Frankfurt motor show in September.

The same show hosted the world debuts of two of the most direct rivals for the most formidable road-going models ever produced by Mercedes or McLaren: Ferrari’s new 458 Italia and Porsche’s upgraded 911 Turbo.

While the new McLaren will not enter production until at least 2011, first deliveries of Australia’s initial SLS allocation of 50 vehicles will arrive in June. The first gullwinged Mercedes to emerge since the 300SL of 1955 will cost about $500,000 here – about half as much as the million-dollar SLR. Mercedes-Benz plans to build about 12,000 SLSs over five years.

The €750,000 ($A1.22m) SLR Stirling Moss, which commenced production in June, will be available only to current members of the SLR Club. The last SLR Roadsters were produced in May, while SLR coupe production ceased at the end of 2007.

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