Ultra-rare Mercedes-Benz Moves Like a Bat out of Hell
Unlike its high-flying CLR sibling, the CLK LM stays firmly on the ground to wow the crowd with its 5.0-liter V8.
Once upon a time in the mid-Nineties, Mercedes brought its Deutsche Tourenwagen Meisterschaft technology from the dead series to the FIA GT1 class, itself only a couple years away from being cancelled. They unleashed upon FIA GT Championship the monster that was the CLK GTR. Upon conquering the first season of the championship in 1997, Mercedes turned its sights on the 24 Hours of Le Mans with an evolution of its car, the CLK LM.
Earlier this summer, YouTubers 19Bozzy92, Italiansupercarvideo, and NM2255 captured a CLK LM on the grounds of the Goodwood Estate in West Essex, England during the 2018 edition of the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
Powered by a mid-mounted naturally aspirated 5.0-liter V8, the CLK LM sent all of its 600 horses to the rear through a five-speed sequential manual. Its slippery aero allowed the evolution model of the CLK GTR to a top speed of 205 mph during testing for the 1998 24 Hours of Le Mans, and could hit 208 mph if given the chance. The aero tricks would later bite Mercedes the following year at Le Mans, when the CLK LM’s replacement, the CLR, would learn how to fly (twice), but not how to land.
This example, part of MB’s Mercedes-Benz Classic display at the 25th anniversary of the Goodwood Festival of Speed, was piloted in 1998 by the team of “King” Klaus Ludwig and Ricardo Zonta, sweeping all eight races of the 1998 FIA GT Championship season like it swept through the hay-bounded turns of the Goodwood Hillclimb.
Only five CLK LMs were built: one for crash testing, three for competition, and one street-legal model for evolution homologation. To see and hear this CLK LM roar and sputter through the bends is a rarity, one we’re happy to see captured here.