I recently noticed a Mercedes-McLaren SLR listed for sale on Bring a Trailer — finished in green with a beige interior, no less — and when I went into the listing and read the comments, I noticed one in particular that jumped out to me. It said: "1 front brake rotor for this car: $23,000."
Obviously I found this to be unbelievable, since even the world’s most expensive carbon ceramic brake rotors are far, far, vastly, insanely cheaper than this. So I did some digging on the Mercedes-Benz forums, and what I discovered is that while this figure is exaggerated, it’s not exaggerated to the point where it’s truly wrong — and that the SLR is incredibly expensive to own.
Before we get into that, a word about the SLR: it was Mercedes-Benz’s mid-2000s supercar, out at the same time as the Ferrari Enzo and the Porsche Carrera GT, but not necessarily meant to rival those vehicles as its purpose was completely different and more tuned for high-speed cruising than track performance. There eventually was an SLR Roadster, and a "722 Edition" that unfortunately didn’t refer to horsepower, and a windshield-less "Stirling Moss" model limited to 75 units, and then it all went away after 2010 or so, following about 2,200 units built.
So, anyway, back to the Mercedes-Benz forums. Regarding brakes on the SLR, here are some of the responses:
While I was having my SLK 350 serviced today, I was looking at a customer’s SLR in the dealer’s shop area. The service writer told me that the car was getting new brakes installed. He said that the entire job including new rotors ($10,000 each) will cost the owner around $43,000. I’m glad I have an SLK.
My understanding is that cost is around $30K USD — but I don’t know anyone who has had to have the whole shebang done yet – don’t know if anyone will ever have to have all four rotors and pads done at one time….
Approximately $12,000 for the front rotors, $2000 for the pads, + whatever the labor is (I think it’s around 5 hours). That’s just for the fronts.
Not sure about the rears but I’m sure they’re only slightly cheaper. You’re probably looking at around $30-40,000 for pads & rotors all the way around.
The numbers quoted above are just a few of the dollar figures mentioned in conjunction with SLR brakes, but all seemed to be in this general cost vicinity — absolutely massively expensive. No, not $23,000-per-rotor expensive, but insanely pricey nonetheless, with the full cost of brake pads and rotors typically pegged at $35,000 to $45,000.
Now, admittedly, the pads and rotors in the SLR are theoretically designed to last for "the life of the car," or at least many years — but obviously that’s just in theory, and it doesn’t really happen that way. As a result, if you’re in the market for an SLR, well … you may want to ask if the brakes have already been replaced. If not, be sure to budget for it. And budget generously.