Homologation (Extra) Special: The Mercedes-Benz CLK GTR
Photography by Ted Gushue
The most incredible part about attending an event like the Concorso d’Elegenza Villa d’Este isn’t necessarily the cars you see, or the stunning visuals of Lake Como. What’s truly incredible about an intimate event like that is that it gives you the opportunity to meet incredible people that you otherwise might never cross paths with. Thanks to a mutual friend associated with the hotel and event I was introduced to Eugenio Amos, a 32 year old Italian racing driver and Paris-Dakar competitor.
Eugenio is one of those rare people in life you meet who seems to live without boundaries, and thrives in extremely challenging environments. When I asked him why he would subject himself to the grueling Paris-Dakar, his response was simple: “Because the second you get in the car you want to quit, it is the most challenging thing I have ever done in my life.” It’s that very same thirst for challenge that has drawn him to cars like the CLK GTR.
Ted Gushue: You are one of 25 people in the world that own my dream car, how did this happen?
Eugenio Amos: The three most iconic cars of my childhood were of course the Lancia Delta Integrale, the F40 and the CLK GTR. I think that this all started because everybody had the models of these cars. Luckily, a few years ago I had the opportunity to purchase this car and I was really close to buy a roadster version but at that time I thought it was too expensive so I declined the offer. Eventually six months later I found the one I bought, which at that point had increased in price, now is the time to buy the car.
TG: How many coupés and how many roadsters?
EA: 25 total of which 19 are coupé and 6 are roadsters. My car is car number 8, which is my lucky number so I was really keen to have this particular car. Even my son is named Otto, to give you an idea how important this number is to me. It only had 800 kilometers and it was ordered by new by Mr. OkAmoto who’s I think one of the bigger Japanese car collectors over there, and then it was sold to a French lawyer in Paris who put zero kilometers on the car. I guess it was just an investment for him.
These cars were built to be driven, when they sit they slowly stop working properly. Once I took delivery I sent the car back to Hans Werner Aufrecht who was of course the “A” in “AMG”. Based in Germany, they were heavily involved in the CLK GTR project and are still to this day in charge of Formula 3 engines and DTM projects on behalf of Mercedes. The car stayed there almost a year, to refurbish and clean everything and change all the small details and then I collected the car. It took me many, many months to register it here in Italy because nobody ever knew this car existed. So today, it is my belief that this is the only CLK GTR to ever be legally registered in Italy.
TG: It’s a big car.
EA: It’s a huge car. It’s very long and very, very wide. Before, while I was overtaking the trucks I was a little bit scared but we are here still alive.
TG: What’s it like to drive on tiny Italian roads?
EA: Given the fact that I currently have no A/C, I would say it is exceptionally hot. It’s a German car, everything should be working but it’s not and I was sweating a lot. A lot. Not only because of the A/C of course, but the car demands your full attention at all times. The clutch is extremely delicate, gets hot very quickly. The tires start to go quickly at top speed. It is a few centimeters lower than almost any other super car. It is a very challenging car to drive at low speed, but above 250km/h it is just sublime.
TG: Tell me a little bit about what your plans are for the car.
EA: I’m not really a concours guy so I will try drive it as much as I can within the limits of the car. Considering that you cannot do huge trips or rallies in it due to the delicate nature of the gearbox, etc, I will put as many miles on the car as possible. The car as you know is a “Homologation Special”, which was created in order to participate in the GT1 World Championship.
It has a carbon fibre skin over an aluminum honeycomb monocoque frame, exactly as the race car does. You can see the weave through the paint. It’s beautiful. This is not the LM version of course so it is powered by the LS600 6.9 Litre V12 similar to what you would find in a Pagani Zonda paired to a six speed sequential manual. In that respect the car is still what I would call “semi-analog” as you need to clutch in to change gears.
Again, back to my obsession with challenges, this car was not developed with creature comforts in mind. It is a simply ridiculous car to get in and out of, and I am quite trim. I can only imagine if you were the Sultan of Brunei how difficult this car would be to use.
TG: What are people’s reactions when they see the car?