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A rolling Moss gathers $2.6M in stones at Bonhams' all-Benz auction

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On: Fri, Mar 25, 2016 at 10:15AM | By: Andrew W Davis


A rolling Moss gathers $2.6M in stones at Bonhams' all-Benz auction

Bonhams held its appropriately named “The Mercedes-Benz Sale” at just about the best place on Earth they could have—the Mercedes-Benz Museum in Stuttgart, Germany—on March 19, and it was packed with the swoopy, super-expensive 1930s models that made the brand the luxury powerhouse it is today.

Problem is, none of them sold.

Instead, they sold some of their strangest products—including a pair of uber-ugly Unimogs—and our subject car, the full name of which is the “2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren' Stirling Moss'”. [Hey, if you're gonna spend over two-and-a-half million bucks on a car, you better get your money's-worth name-wise. And in this case, you don't just get one of the greatest names in all of automobiledom, you get FOUR…]

As you may have already surmised by the name, this was another swipe at making another special edition of the already special Mercedes-Benz/McLaren SLR. But, as you've also surmised by its looks, it was more than just a few extra ponies under the hood and a smattering of additional badges.

Penned by Korean designer Yoon Il-hun and first shown at the North American International Auto Show (Detroit) in January 2009—despite NOT being legal for sale in the U.S.—the MBSLRMSM (sorry, I'll call it the “Moss” from now on) did away with a roof, windshield, and more on its way to a total slim-down of over 440 lbs. vs. its sister SLRs.

Mercedes introduced it thusly:
“This extreme concept makes the new high-performance sports car a legitimate bearer of the name of the British motor racing legend and Mille Miglia record-holder Stirling Moss, who drove the legendary Mercedes-Benz SLR racing cars from victory to victory during the 1950s.”

So basically Mercedes said the production SLR—and the “722” and “722 S” special editions that followed—were worthy of bearing the name (and number) of Sir Stirling's CAR, just not the man himself.

And I agree. I never liked the M-B/McLaren SLR in ANY of its guises. If ever there was a supercar born of a dysfunctional marriage, this was it. McLaren didn't want to build the car Mercedes' way, and Mercedes wouldn't take the advice of the very company they hired to build the car on how they could make it better.

So out came the fat bird of compromise, the overweight, overstuffed, and overnosed car that was meant to somehow celebrate the Formula 1 success the pair shared while apparently sharing none of the Formula 1 that created that success.

But then came the big split. In Formula 1, I mean. Mercedes got its own team and left McLaren to its own devices. Literally. But not before the pair served up one last version of its like-child, the SLR. And as with all things automotive, they waited to get it right until just before they killed it.

And the “Stirling Moss” is oh, so right.

If this was the car they started with—with the various safety bits attached, of course—I cannot even imagine the popularity the SLR would've enjoyed (and the resale values that go with it).

And it is in that last little bit of irony that the “Moss” shows that someone in the M-B/McL confab still had a sense of humor. For not only did they build the perfect car to show off how good the SLR could've been from the start, they made it available only to people who already owned at least one SLR.

“Not only does this exclusive vehicle represent the conclusion of the current SLR family,” said Mercedes-Benz, “it also serves as a very special thank you to the most loyal of SLR customers, for they are the only ones able to acquire a Stirling Moss.” [His two former—and one current—wives notwithstanding, of course.]

Hopefully the SLR-faithful got the message the way it was intended, or at least the 75 lucky enough to pass muster for one did. I guess you could look at it like the difference between the original car and the 722 S. They weren't meant to be compared back-to-back; they had different purposes.

But the “Moss” is something else entirely. Wait. That's not true. Its looks are something else entirely. Underneath it's the best-spec 722 SLR (or SLR 722, or whatever) with the 640hp supercharged V8 and all that. It's just the wrapper that's different.

But what a wrapper it is. It's not the prettiest or sexiest thing out there, but it's a damn sight more so than any of its siblings. Oh, and the Moss' re-sculpting wasn't just for show: The light(er)-weight Moss' performance numbers improved along with its looks, with zero-to-62 mph times under 3.5 seconds (from 3.8) and a top speed of 220 mph (from 207). [Helmets—definitely—required.]

Should you want to experience a Stirling Moss for yourself and can't afford the beknighted real thing, at least you now have an idea of what it would cost to acquire the car that bears his name: $2,592,330.

Yes, one of the lucky (?) 75 cracked and put his (or her) “Moss” up for sale via Bonhams' Benz sale, and that Swiss-registered one-owner car hit the 2.3 million Euro mark despite having a surprisingly high odo reading of 7,200 kms. [I say surprising because, well, look at the thing. Original Shelby Cobras had more in the way of weather-protection, including—most importantly—a WINDSHIELD. Did they drive it a lot all at once or just a little at a time a bunch of times? Hmm...]

So now you finally know what it takes to take down one of the final SLRs—should one appear for sale again, of course. Personally, I feel that an even better SLR is still waiting to be created, and it's not just professional pride.

Neither “722” nor Sir Stirling Moss could have done what they did without Mr. Denis Sargent Jenkinson, the brilliant navigator (who also happened to be an automotive journalist) sitting at Sir Stirling's side.

So do what's right, Mercedes. You ignored his contribution long enough, and you can't say you didn't have the opportunity yet, seeing as how you made another generation of SLR (and SLS).

Let us have our “Jenks Edition”.
[And by “us” I mean (at least) me, and by “have” I mean please (at least) loan it to me. I'd even settle for a ride-along. How about the Mille Miglia in May? I know how to read a map, and the whole journalist/navigator thing worked out extremely well the last time...]


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