A small group of eager Australians is splashing more than $25 million to join the silver arrows at Mercedes-Benz.
Seven buyers have each spent more than $3.65 million to own the ultimate effort by the three-pointed star, the Mercedes-AMG Project One hypercar, shown here undergoing track testing in Germany while dressed in detail-concealing camouflage.
The highly-complex mechanical package inside the radical road-racer bodywork is the same as the one used by the silver arrows Formula One car being used by Lewis Hamilton to lead this year’s world championship, with a 1.6-litre turbo and hybrid electric assistance.
Yet the Aussie owners will not be able to drive their cars on the road in Australia.
The Project One is only built with left-hand drive, which means the cars cannot be registered and will be restricted to racetracks and private displays.
To get around the problem, two are expected to stay in Europe where their owners will be able to exploit the performance punch that will catapult them to 100km/h in less than 2.5 seconds and on to a top speed of more than 350km/h.
Only 275 production cars will be built and each of them has been allocated to someone with a special link to the world’s oldest car company.
There is secrecy around the identity of the Australian owners, although trucking magnate and Benz enthusiast Lindsay Fox is an obvious pick.
“They have all had Benzes before," hints the CEO of Mercedes-Benz Australia, Horst von Sanden. 'Because they are collectors and enthusiasts they not only have classic Benzes but they have Benzes they drive every day.'
“Obviously they have the money for this, or they would not be buying the cars. But they have a fascination for this kind of vehicle. It’s not the first vehicle of this kind they will have.”
He says final details of the cars will be confirmed soon, as well as the delivery dates. “They arrive in 2019 but we are waiting for the final details.”
Production of the Project One will begin next year and a camouflaged test car has been spotted during testing at the gruelling Nurburgring course in Germany.
It’s part of a development program that has included exhaustive laboratory testing to ensure the F1 powertrain can survive beyond the world’s Grand Prix tracks.
But the Project One is likely to be such a rare sighting that even Mercedes cannot get a car for a local tour or a special appearance at the Australian Grand Prix next March.
“There is no company demonstrator,” laughs von Sanden. “We always try to bring something for special events, but I don’t think it will be possible this time. Due to the low number of vehicles there will not be a lot of display cars available."
As for the cars themselves, von Sanden has no doubt they will be a future classic and their value will skyrocket once production is complete.
“There is always a market for those sorts of vehicles. They are collector cars. I believe it’s not a bad investment.”