I’ve always had a soft spot for the McLaren Mercedes SLR. It just looked like a supercar should: sleek and stylish with a dash of bonkers. But then it needed to, considering it was the follow-up to the infamous McLaren F1.
So you can imagine how chuffed I was to stumble across this particular example – a 722 edition, no less – not 100 yards from crankandpiston headquarters. After phoning ahead to let the team know I’d be late in, I began my gawking.
That F1-esque nose appealed to the motorsport buff in me, and almost immediately the SLR was parked in my fantasy garage. But then there was also plenty that appealed to the inner-eight year old: those front-exiting dual exhaust pipes for example (very Thunderbirds); the almost insanely low front splitter; the four headlights staring menacingly at its fellow road-going prey.
And of course the air inlets. Oh my word, the inlets! I almost take a precautionary step back for fear of being sucked in. There’s no subtlety here: the inlets don’t suggest ‘muscle’; they hammer the message home without mercy.
Yet by the time we reach the back, non-AMG Mercedes has almost completely replaced McLaren. The classic silver finish and matching tinted windows remain, but the subtle-rear wing is as outlandish as it gets. Suddenly, elegantly sculpted rear lights and premium boot space are the way to go, almost as if the SLR is a car that can be used everyd…yes, exactly!
Having a 334kph and 0-100 in 3.8s at your disposal – actually 337kph and 3.6s in this 722 case – is the dream: that violent acceleration that leaves one giggling uncontrollably. And yet, simultaneously, a car you want to be driving when you see it reflected in a shop window.
Right, must get to work. My car’s been blocking traffic ever since I screeched to a halt.