Some anoraks out there may have read the blog I published on Monday, "The Greatest Track Only Supercars Ever Made" purely with the objective of scanning it to see what I didn't include, so they could berate me furiously in the comments, and in doing so, affirm their superiority over me in their little world.
If you are one of the aforementioned sanctimonious bastards, then you'll unquestionably wonder why on Earth I failed to include the Mercedes SLR McLaren 722 GT in my list of track-only supercars. And the reason is simple: because it was designed primarily for a one-make racing series, which if allowed into my list, would've opened up a whole new can of worms.
Unlike a track-only hypercar, such as a McLaren P1 GTR, the 722 GT wasn't something you bought because you wanted to enjoy a mesmerising automotive experience privately – it was the tool you purchased so you could gain entry into a racing series. In many ways, it was akin to the Electric Guitar you'd purchase in order to play in a rock band, rather than the Acoustic Guitar you'd buy so you could play to yourself.
The SLR 722 however is a rather wonderful machine, so rather than leave its existence out of mention altogether, I feel I should take a little look, and delve into the details that made it an absolute animal.
Unsurprisingly, there's very little the GT shares with either the standard SLR, or the 722 variant. The only thing it really has in common is the 5.5L supercharged V8 engine, which pumps out 680bhp – up from the 722 road car's 641bhp. Not only that, but in the GT, that power has an awful lot less weight to haul around.
The SLR's original bent was all about grand touring, and as a result, it was filled with lots of luxury, and lard. Stripping all of that out to leave only the bare essentials relieves the GT version of 882lbs (400kg) of weight, bringing the wet weight of the car down to 3064lbs (1390kg). It doesn't exactly take a mathematician to calculate that the combination of more power and less weight results in more speed.
For the GT, 0-60mph takes just 3.1 seconds, and the top speed is 195mph – which yes, is lower than the regular 722's 211mph top speed. But the road car doesn't have an aero-kit that allows it to go through fast bends with 2Gs worth of force; the side effect of such neck-breaking cornering is a lower top speed. Personally, I think that's a price worth paying.
Whether the price for the car itself was worth paying however is frankly up to someone who's significantly wealthier than me to decide. The SLR 722 GT cost £750,000 when it was first introduced, which may make you gasp with shock. But remember, this car was made for a one-make racing series, which means the price isn't just for the car – it's for the experience as well.
Everything you could need to race was included in the three quarters of a million price-tag. All that was required of the buyer was their presence to get in it, and race. Well, when I say "race", what I mean is sit back and watch half of the field – that was made up of professional racing drivers – disappear while you and the other half of the field – that was made up of rich owners – see whose bank balance translates most accurately into driving skill.
Luckily for the non-pros however, the 722 GT was engineered to be forgiving towards mistakes, and leave plenty of leeway for error. It wasn't designed to bite at the first sign of inexperience; it was designed to carry a person through a race in utmost security.
You could say that the 722 version of McLaren Mercedes' SLR has been somewhat forgotten – and the GT racing version certainly has. With today's seemingly omnipotent track-only monsters, we can often lose appreciation for cars like the 722 GT. People can be dismissive towards them, like they're slow and unworthy. But ignorance doesn't disprove just how mighty something is, and it certainly doesn't reflect on this car's greatness in the slightest.
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Written by: Angelo Uccello
Tribe: Speed Machines
Facebook: Speed Machines - DriveTribe
Photo credits: ultimatecarpage