20 years since its inception, and the car has aged beautifully.
The turn of the millennium was an interesting time. The St. Louis Rams won the Superbowl, the Yankees beat the Mets in the World Series, Concorde crashed, we were all worried about Mad Cow Disease, and Venus Williams won her first Wimbledon title. There were lots of highs and lows, but one that stands out in the former category is the introduction of the Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG F1. Based on the regular CL 55 AMG that came with a 355-horsepower V8, the limited-edition model showcased technology that only a team involved in F1 could pull off at the time. That trend continues with 2020's Mercedes-AMG One. But looking back, the end of May marks 20 years since the 55 AMG F1's release, and Mercedes has thus just released press material looking back on what the car was like.
On release, it cost a whopping DM330,000, or a little more than $185,000. With just 55 units produced, it's one of the rarest production cars Mercedes has ever made. So what did this astronomical sum return? Well, in the press release for this car, issued 20 years ago, the Formula 1 world champion of the preceding two seasons made an important statement. Mika Hakkinen said that "the most important part of a sports car is not the engine, but the brakes." This wasn't just a random quote. Mercedes used it to highlight that the CL 55 AMG F1 was the first-ever street-legal car that used carbon-ceramic brakes. The system was so strong that a full stop from its top speed of 155 mph that the brakes would provide the equivalent of 2,000 hp worth of braking force to bring the car to a halt.
How did it get to that top speed? Well, its 5.5-liter V8 produced 355 horsepower and 390 lb-ft of torque, all of which was sent to the 19 x 9.5-inch rear wheels. The body was only available in a single color - Brilliant Silver Metallic. Inside, black and silver leather decorated the cabin, and a number of carbon fiber accents were complemented by unique badges and plaques confirming the car's rarity and heritage.
If this appeals to you, you'll be happy to know that this limited-run model isn't impossible to find. We found two examples for sale on the net, with one going for €66,000 and other, presumably better model selling for €129,499, or $73,000 and $143,000 respectively. For a roadgoing F1 safety car, we think that's a bargain. Not interested in the rarity factor? The regular CL 55 AMG is pretty affordable too.