20 years ago: The CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition was a superlative coupé introduced in May 2000

May 27, 2020
  • The car was developed from the Formula One Safety Car of the time
  • V8 high-performance engine from AMG with an output of 265 kW (360 hp)
  • The first street-legal car worldwide to be fitted with ceramic brake discs
  • The brake power of 1,471 kW (2,000 hp) enabled outstanding braking performance

Stuttgart. Racing car technology for public roads: it was this guiding philosophy that Mercedes-Benz applied when it presented the CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition at the end of May 2000, scheduled to accompany the Formula One season that year. This car was one of the luxury coupés in the C 215 model series that was built from 1999 through to 2006. The technical specifications and design of the innovative super-sports car were closely based on the Safety Car of the time, driven by Bernd Mayländer.

It was not only the DM 330,000 price tag of this special model that ensured its exclusivity, but also the fact that it was a limited edition: only 55 of these cars had been built by 2001. This made it a collector’s item right from the start. Production of the impressive coupé began in the summer of 2000 and delivery commenced in the autumn. One of these extremely rare cars ist part of the extensive Mercedes-Benz Classic vehicle collection.

The CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition was not a modest car: it had an AMG V8 high-performance 5.5-litre engine. That engine developed 265 kW (360 hp) at 5,500 rpm and a torque of 530 newton metres at 3,150 to 4,500 rpm. Its top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h. Another outstanding feature: this was the world’s first street-legal car that decelerated by means of a ceramic brake system. In the event of full braking from top speed, it provided a braking power of up to 1,471 kW (2,000 hp). This exceptional braking performance was the result of a combination of internally ventilated brake discs made of fibre-reinforced ceramic and the eight-piston brake callipers developed by the supplier, Brembo.

This technology was completely new for production cars at the time. The advantages included very sensitive response to braking actions, extremely high thermal resistance and reduced weight of the brake discs, which were 60 per cent lighter than conventional steel discs. The noticeable reduction in unsprung masses allowed the driver of this special model to experience both improved vehicle dynamics and greater driving enjoyment.

High-tech brake discs produced in-house

The press release in May 2000 on this special model quoted Mika Häkkinen, Formula One World Champion in 1998 and 1999 in a McLaren Mercedes: “The most important part of a sports car is not the engine, but the brakes.” The brake discs for this coupé were manufactured by the Mercedes-Benz plant in Esslingen-Mettingen. Their manufacture was a high-tech process: carbon fibre, carbon powder and resin were pressed into shape under high pressure and then baked at 1,000 degrees Celsius. After cooling, the brake discs were subjected to brief machining before being treated with liquid silicon. The carbon matrix absorbed the silicon like a sponge and reacted to produce ceramic.

The exclusive trim level of the CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition provided the visible emphasis for its inherent character. Externally, the car featured impressive AMG styling. The 19-inch AMG light-alloy rims, 8.5 inches at the front and 9.5 inches at the rear, with 255/40 ZR 19 front tyres and 285/35 ZR 19 rear tyres clearly demonstrated the car’s sporting aspirations. Reduced wheel offsets on the AMG wheels produced optimised track widths which, in combination with the wider rear wings, gave the CL 55 AMG a very brawny appearance. The sportier configuration of the ABC (Active Body Control) suspension contributed to a particularly dynamic driving experience. The anti-lock braking system, Brake Assist and Electronic Stability Program ESP® were also carefully adapted to the new brake system.

The exclusive coupé, available only in brilliant silver metallic, differed from its standard production counterpart in several other equipment details which stressed its genetic proximity to the Formula One Safety Car then in use. These included “F1 Limited Edition” lettering on the front wings, on the illuminated door sills and on the centre console, where its consecutive numbering was also shown. Front seats with a decidedly sporty feel and optimised side stability, black-and-silver leather upholstery with embroidered AMG logos, an AMG sports steering wheel with a perforated leather cover, carbon-fibre trim elements, the automatic selector lever featuring a combination of leather and carbon fibre and floor mats with AMG logos continued the motorsport philosophy in the interior.

Mercedes-Be nz Typ CL 55 AMG,  Sondermodell "F1 limited edition", Bremsanlage mit Keramik-Bremsscheibe.
Mercedes-Benz CL-Klasse / CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition
Mercedes-Benz CL-Klasse / CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition
Mercedes-Benz Typ CL 55 AMG, Sondermodell "F1 limited edition" Mercedes-Benz Typ CL 55 AMG, Sondermodell "F1 limited edition"
Mercedes-Benz Typ CL 55 AMG, Sondermodell "F1 limited edition" Mercedes-Benz Typ CL 55 AMG, Sondermodell "F1 limited edition"
Mercedes-Benz CL-Klasse / CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition
Mercedes-Benz Typ CL 55 AMG, Sondermodell "F1 limited edition" Mercedes-Benz Typ CL 55 AMG, Sondermodell "F1 limited edition"
Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG F1 Limited Edition of the C 215 model series, the
world’s first use of a ceramic brake disc in a road-legal vehicle. Photograph
from 2000.
Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG, "F1 limited edition" (C 215), 2000.
The special "F1 Limited Edition" model was inspired by the Mercedes-Benz CL 55 AMG (C 215) as the Official F1™ Safety Car. Photo taken at the Canadian Grand Prix, 10 June 2001.