Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

How the Mercedes SLR Works

        Auto | Luxury Cars

Control, Style and Function
The fiber-reinforced ceramic brake discs.
The fiber-reinforced ceramic brake discs.
Photo courtesy Daimler Chrysler

The SLR has independent control arms of unequal length, with coil springs on all four wheels and an anti-roll bar in the front. A rack-and-pinion steering system controls the specially designed Michelin Pilot Sport PS2 tires (Front: 245/35ZR-19 96Y; Rear: 295/30ZR-19 100Y), which are mounted to 19-inch cast aluminum asymmetric turbine wheels. Special ceramic disc brakes, manufactured for heat resistance and strength, provide up to 1.3 Gs of stopping power.

All of these features help to give the SLR a 40-foot turning radius and 161-foot braking distance from 70 mph. The rear spoiler acts as an automatic air brake, raising up to a 65 degree angle to provide additional downforce and stability. It drops back down for flat-out high-speed runs.

Just like a Formula One racing car, the bodywork of the new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is made of carbon fiber.
Just like a Formula One racing car, the bodywork of the new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is made of carbon fiber.
Photo courtesy Daimler Chrysler
Just like a Formula One racing car, the bodywork of the new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is made of carbon fiber.
Just like a Formula One racing car, the bodywork of the new Mercedes-Benz SLR McLaren is made of carbon fiber.
Photo courtesy Daimler Chrysler

The SLR looks different from most supercars. Most have the engine mounted behind the driver, and aerodynamic considerations force the car's shape into a low, sleek profile. Mercedes and McLaren engineers decided to go with a front-mounted engine, which helps give the car its distinctive shape. The engine is mounted as far back in the compartment as possible, sitting behind the front axle. The gives the SLR nearly 50/50 front to rear weight distribution, a major factor in the car's overall handling. It also means that the engine compartment looks a bit strange. The engine itself peeks out from beneath the windshield, only about half of it extending out into the engine compartment itself. A giant air intake nozzle fills up most of the area beneath the hood. The resulting shape is a car with a long snout, a compact driver compartment, and a rounded-off rear.

The frame is also highly advanced, with a monocoque carbon-fiber tub making up the main chassis and sub-frames in the front and rear. The rear sub-frame is made from aluminum. Tubes and pockets made of carbon fiber within the frame are based on safety designs from McLaren's F1 efforts, and absorb four times as much energy as steel in an impact.

Styling on the SLR is further defined by large air vents in the body just behind the front tires, and sidepipe exhaust headers below. It retains the familiar Mercedes look, with a large badge and twin-lamp elliptical bi-xenon headlights. The body panels are made from carbon fiber reinforced plastic.

Up next, take a seat in an SLR.

Juan Manuel Fangio took the race win in a 300 SLR at the 1955 Swedish Grand Prix.
Juan Manuel Fangio took the race win in a 300 SLR at the 1955 Swedish Grand Prix.
Photo courtesy Daimler Chrysler

More to Explore