Fail Friday: 2004 Mercedes-Benz C230

I was making my rounds around the internet looking for interesting cars and was taken back when I saw the photo above. Was it some kind of European Touring Car? A 24-hour endurance car? The next thing that caught my eye was the price of a mere $5,000. Now I started getting excited. A cheap, real race car for sale in the U.S. that is ready to go?

Well …

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2004 Mercedes-Benz C230 on Autotrader

2014 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Sport

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To be honest, I heaved a sigh of relief the day I sold my 2007 Mercedes-Benz C230 Sport. I felt as if the compact executive sedan was becoming too ubiquitous for the upwardly mobile in my area, especially those wearing an Audi, BMW or Mercedes badge. To this day, I’m happy with the choice I made to buy a used 2006 MINI Cooper S, as it still puts a smile on my face every time I drive it. A few months back, while on a business trip to South Africa, my father called and informed me he traded in his W202 C280 for a 2014 C300 4Matic in Dolomite Brown Metallic, like the car we see here for sale in Texas. I didn’t give much thought to the W204 C-class when it replaced the W203 C-class shortly after I bought my C230 Sport. Given that the W205 C-class has a turbo four-cylinder engine, lack of start-stop override and a navigation screen that looks like an iPad slapped on the dash, it has me eyeing these late model W204 C300s with their 3.5 liter V6 a bit more closely.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2014 Mercedes-Benz C300 4Matic Sport on Cars.com

1998 Mercedes-Benz C230 with 49k miles

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Andrew’s Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG post had me considering my last car, a W203 2007 C230 Sport. Truth be told, I didn’t like that car all that much. The 7-speed automatic was overkill for the V6, leading the gearbox to hunt around too much and the lack of standard features such as auxiliary input for the stereo and fold down rear seats were bewildering on a car costing over $35,000 new. And while the interior fittings were upgraded in 2005, the overall package left a bit to be desired, especially if you were used to Mercedes-Benzes of yore. I’m a much bigger fan of the C-class that preceded the W203, the W202. While my 1998 C230 only had a 2.3 liter inline-4 mated to a 5-speed automatic, it was a much more well-rounded package with a big helping of that old school Mercedes feel. I dearly miss that car and this 1998 C230 for sale in Florida has me missing it even more.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Mercedes-Benz C230 on eBay

2005 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG

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I’m not afraid to say that the W203 is my one of my least favorite Mercedes ever made. The design was soft, the entire interior was a plastic mess and even the wheel design sucked. These were geared towards entry-level buyers and the lease deals on them were targeted towards anyone who had a pulse and a solid proof of couch ownership with coins under the cushions. This left us with a mass sea of used W203s for sale that you can pick up for mere peanuts. Seriously, I think some buyers on Craigslist are accepting bags of peanuts to take away their 2001 C240s. But one model out of all the miserable cars stood out and actually was worth driving and hey, maybe even buying. Allow me to reintroduce the C55 AMG.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG on eBay

2009 Mercedes-Benz C300

I was rather surprised when I got a call from my father while on business in South Africa telling me that he had sold his trusty 2000 C280 for a 2014 C300 4matic. Almost 17 years on, that W202 was practically a family member at this point. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. So this W204 marks the ninth Mercedes to pass through the Henriques household. Curiously, it was built at Mercedes’ East London plant in South Africa. So between my penchant for Western Cape wines and this Mercedes, we’ve been doing our part to fly the South African flag. Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika, then.

When the W204 debuted in 2008, you could specify a 6-speed manual in the US market. This option would disappear after the 2012 model year due to a low take rate. But for the more sporting driver, these manual transmission equipped W204s make for an interesting alternative to the ubiquitous 3 series sedan.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2009 Mercedes-Benz C300 on eBay

1997 Mercedes-Benz C280 Sport

Of all the cars I’ve ever owned, the 1998 Mercedes-Benz C230 was perhaps the most honest. It wasn’t overly flashy, was rather basic as compared to other US market Mercedes at the time and went about its business with 148 horsepower on tap in a steady but dignified manner. While there were hotter AMG versions on offer, Mercedes did offer a Sport package for the W202 throughout its life which gave the standard models a bit more zest. This 1997 C280 Sport for sale in Illinois has covered just over 60,000 miles and represents the last year the M104 inline-6 appeared under the hood of the W202, to be replaced by the M112 2.8 liter V6 in 1998. These Sport models had came equipped with a tighter suspension, 15″ AMG wheels, blacked out exterior trim, carbon fiber look trim inside and a smaller diameter steering wheel.

Click for details: 1997 Mercedes-Benz C280 Sport on eBay

1995 Mercedes Benz C36 AMG

I’ll get this out of the way right off the bat, this car has a salvage title. I’ll get this out of the way as well, I don’t care. For what the seller wants for the car, and what you could likely get him to come down to, you’d be getting enough car for the money that a salvage title shouldn’t matter. The way I see it this is a car you buy and drive into the ground. It is not an investment, it is not a collectors item, it’s a W202 Mercedes that happens to be an AMG car. Even if you paid what the seller is asking I think you’d be getting a fair deal. The car appears to be in great condition now and depending on what earned it a salvage title, this could be a real steal, especially with a little big of negotiating. Salvage title cars are really hard to sell these days, given that everyone has access to the internet, and has seen those commercials with the smug Fox. I agree that 9/10 it is a bad idea to buy a salvage title vehicle, but there are exceptions, and this might just be one of those.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1995 Mercedes Benz C36 AMG

1998 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG

Let’s start with the last line first: The C43 AMG is one of the best bargains on the market right now — if you can find a good one. There were less than 1,500 of these imported to the U.S. so there aren’t many to start with. Further, if you find one that needs TLC it should be deeply discounted as repairing this car properly can add up fast.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1998 Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG on Craigslist Denver

1996 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG

I always considered the C36 AMG a car with a lot of untapped potential. This was a rather innocuous looking machine for being the first AMG car to emerge from the factory after Mercedes absorbed the tuning firm. It appeared right around the same time as the BMW E36 M3. These were cars aimed at two different markets, with the M3 being offered initially only as a coupe. But when the sedan appeared later on, the choice was clear for those who wanted to row their own in a super saloon. Sure, the later C43 and C55 AMG offered V8 grunt, but they were still automatic only.

GCFSB’s own Dan Crouch just purchased a C43 AMG and has been enjoying every minute. However, we were contemplating just how bad this thing would have been with a 5 or 6-speed manual. Likewise, the earlier C36 AMG might have been loved just a little bit more with that third pedal. However, with 5,200 produced, the C36 AMG is a dark horse in the Mercedes-Benz performance portfolio and a great choice for those seeking a bit of brute force enveloped in formal attire.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1996 Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG on eBay

2005 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG

Orion Blue Metallic, that’s what the paint is called and the main reason I decided to write up this Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG. One of the other reasons is that I’ve always felt this car was overlooked due to the its successor being the tire slaying C63 AMG. Those cars continue to fall in pice but it will be a few more years before they reach the bottom of the depreciation curve. The C55 is already close and will likely drop down a little further in the next couple of years. If you enjoy the “double bubble” headlight style of the W203 then this car has to be at the top of your list as it is the most aggressive looking one you could buy. What I find appealing is that even in AMG form, it still retains a clean sleeper look. Were it not for the matte black Vertini wheels, I think this car would be able to fly way under the radar, a bonus when you’ve got 362 hp on tap. If I were to take this home I’d probably swap them out the wheels for a nice brushed aluminum multi spoke from the AMG catalog, but I have to admit the concave style does add a certain badass element to the car. I think that has to be one of the most appealing things about the C55 AMG, it can be made to look like a mundane country club classic or a aggressive Autobahn animal. All you need to do is change a few minor things to tip the scales in either direction and I have to say, this car strikes a nice balance between the two.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 2005 Mercedes-Benz C55 AMG on eBay