No one at Mercedes-Benz knew it at the time, but the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR would ultimately go down as one of the 1990's most iconic Grand Touring Championship cars and spawn one of the era's wildest limited-edition supercars.
It's easy to assume such a project took months, even years to develop. Nonsense. The AMG team brought the Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR from paper to pavement in just 128 days in the winter of 1996/1997. In 1997, it stunned formidable competitors by dominating the FIA Grand Touring Championship series. The CLK GTR even took the pole position at the car's debut race, something nobody saw coming—even Mercedes-Benz.
But that's not where the story ends. The race car got a V-8 engine and better aerodynamics for the 1998 racing season, and the car went on to win all 10 races as well as the championship.
FIA regulations meant 25 production road cars needed to be produced. The cars were produced following the CLK GTR's second racing season in the GT championship, and each buyer was carefully selected by the brand. Private customers all over the world were graced with one of the most advanced Mercedes-Benz road cars produced to date.
Peter Conrad, a former race mechanic for Mercedes-Benz AMG, said the road car was a serious challenge, but everyone was committed to the program after the success in the GT championship. It turned out to be quite the happy ending, too. Mercedes-Benz made a name for itself in racing and customers were rewarded with a true performance machine with a proper on-track pedigree.
Today, the price of entry is quite high. This year, a CLK GTR sold for a cool $2.7 million.
Check out the short documentary-style video above for more insight into this modern road and racing classic.