| Spy shots | 2009 Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren Speedster |
Rumours of an extreme final edition of the Mercedes SLR McLaren have been confirmed after a speedster version has been spotted out testing. The unique SLR, thought to be codenamed Z119 internally, features no windscreen, the only protection from the elements being a tiny pair of aeroscreens in front of the driver and passenger. Based on the SLR Roadster's chassis, the completely open SLR should offer exceptional rigidity thanks to the extensive use of carbon-fibre in the car's construction.
The loss of the windscreen pillars has required a new solution for the butterfly opening doors, a single hinge now lifting and raising the door forward. With no weather gear, more composite panels and the removal of equipment such as air conditioning it's thought that the extreme SLR will be some 200kg lighter than the more conventional SLR coupé and roadster. Twin humps - reminiscent of Mercedes' 300 SLR Silver Arrows historic racers - feature and roll-over protection is provided by a pair of shapely hoops. We'd recommend a full-face helmet, though it's not unreasonable to expect Mercedes to offer them as part of the package.
It's thought that just 75 of these crazy hypercars will be built for wealthy SLR enthusiasts around the world. With a price anticipated to be around €750,000 (about £600,000) the windscreen-less SLR will be the most expensive version ever produced. That's unlikely to put off potential buyers and it's probable that the small production run has already been accounted for. Being significantly lighter than the existing SLR models, the Speedster should be faster than ever, with a top speed of 217mph (350km/h) rumoured. Lewis Hamilton is said to have been involved in the project, the F1 star expected to officially unveil the car at an event in Germany at the end of the month.
Kyle Fortune - 3 Jul 2008