1999 Mercedes-Benz A160

The 2019 model year marks the first year that the United States market will receive the new entry-level Mercedes-Benz W177 A-Class. It was a long time coming because there is nothing more American consumers want than luxury products on a low monthly payment. I checked out a new A220 last week at the auto show and I have to admit it was better than the C117 CLA-Class that was introduced to the American market in 2014. That CLA is a sad exercise of how cheap you can make a car and holds the record for the largest ratio of bezel to screen on a dash screen. Thankfully, a new CLA is in the works and should be miles better than the original. Nevertheless, those old cars will hang around on the buy-here, pay-lots until the end of time much like the original cheap Mercedes that started it all, the W168 A-Class.

Launched in 1997, it was Mercedes first dive into the subcompact market that was most infamously noted for failing the Swedish traditional “elk test” and looking like a giant wedge of cheese. The design wasn’t by random chance, Mercedes engineers designed the car this way so encase of a crash, the engine and transmission would slide underneath the floor below the pedals rather straight into the occupants in the front seats. The front wheel drive layout allowed this as well as there was no need to deal with a driveshaft preventing anything from sliding. Still, this car needed to compete in the subcompact market so it couldn’t be twice the price of competitors. That meant making the interior resemble a children’s play-place and passing it off as funky and modern. Those late ’90s were a crazy time after all. These sold reasonably well with 1.1 million units leaving dealer lots between 1997 and 2004 thanks to their small stature ideal for the city streets and tight parking of traditional European cities. Now, over 20 years later, a well-used A-Class can be had for the price of a modest vacation to Ocean City, Maryland and even the nicest examples, like this example for sale up for sale outside of London, don’t command a high asking price. Thing is, are they even worth it?

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Mercedes-Benz A160 on eBay

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1999 Mercedes-Benz A160 Häkkinen Edition

A1

It’s been almost four years since the last time we featured the W168 A160 and probably for good reason. One of the most disappointing projects that Mercedes ever green-lighted, the W168 makes the W203 feel like a W100 600 in terms of quality. Thankfully the United States market was never stricken with this front-wheel drive piece of late 1990s design trends on wheels. But that wasn’t enough. Somewhere along the line the product managers at Daimler AG got drunk had a meeting and decided they wanted to honor the great F1 driver Mika Häkkinen. So what other way than his own special edition car? It’s just that car happened to be one that flipped over if it saw a moose. If you feel like cracking this over-sized egg for sale in the Netherlands to peek inside then let’s break this one down.

CLICK FOR DETAILS: 1999 Mercedes-Benz A160 Häkkinen Edition at Alphons Ruyl Fine Classic Cars

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2001 Mercedes-Benz A160

At the beginning of the 1980s, it was almost unthinkable that Mercedes-Benz would move downmarket and venture into the small car market. The 190E transformed the idea of just what a Mercedes-Benz could be. A small, compact executive saloon, the 190E was a huge success for the company, selling over 1.8 million units over ten years. The 1990s would bring even more radical change to the product lineup, with the introduction of the A class in 1997. With a transverse engine, front-wheel drive and a layered floor that would allow the engine to slide under the passenger compartment in a frontal impact, this was quite a departure in terms of design for Mercedes-Benz. The A class would never see the light of day in the US market, but a few have made their way over the years. This particular A160 for sale has managed to be registered in California but will not pass all of the smog testing in the state. Whether it can be registered elsewhere in the country remains to be seen.

2001 Mercedes-Benz A160 on eBay

2001 Mercedes A160 Elegance Edition. Moonstone Silver with amethyst jacquard interior. 1.6 liter 4 cyl gas motor. 73,000 orig miles. Has the desired 5-speed clutchless manual transmission…only two pedals, clutch is actuated via electric motor but you shift it as per a manual. All the typical features: AC, power windows, power locks, traction control, CD, dual airbags, etc. Car is slightly lowered with Brabus springs and has fuel management chip. OZ (16”) wheels made for me custom to accommodate the proper offsets for this car front and rear, hub-centric of course. Car is pictured with the stock grille but I also have a second color-matched perforated AMG grille as well. They swap out in a few minutes.

Gets incredible mileage (a minimum of 32mpg) and will seat five 5 adults. It’s light years ahead of a Smart Car and has much more capability, acceleration, better highway ride, and a proper transmission. I am the second owner; I purchased the car in ’01 with under 1k miles on it. In this A-class you can fold, tilt or completely remove the rear seats to transform the entire rear into a flat cargo area. I have always dealer maintained the car at either Fletcher Jones or WI Simonson with all records. On occasions I have done the oil myself (it’s very simple). Always run Mobil One 0/30 every 3-4k miles. All maintenance is up to date and in most cases done early; this includes all belts, brake and radiator flushes etc. These are relatively maintenance free anyway. All parts I typically order online and the process is beyond simple. Engine has a timing CHAIN so no need for timing belt replacements. Have several nice factory maintenance / spares that come with the car too.

Car has a clean and clear CA title. It was no small feat to get this. For all you CA residence that want to swap this out for your Prius, this car will NOT pass the visual portion of the CA smog inspection as it does not have the CA 50-state emissions diagram sticker under the hood. I want to stress this: this car has all factory emissions equipment (including factory CEL) and WILL pass the rolling dyno smog test with flying colors. Unfortunately here in the Republik of CA you need to pass both sniffer and visual. If you live here in CA and want this car you will need to register it out of state unless you know some trick I do not and I’ve spent thousands navigating the process properly. Being a CA resident it is infuriating but it’s a fact.

This is a great and unique car in fantastic shape. You would be lucky to find another one anywhere in the US let alone with a legit CA title and the Brabus items. I would rather sell, but would be open to an automotive trade too. No reserve.

NOTE: Mileage in my ad is correct (73,000). The Autocheck mileage listed is accurate but it is in KM…NOT MILES. Current KM is 118k which equals 73k miles. For those that have asked: The car is totally original…no paintwork, accidents, parking lot shunts, minor body damage etc. Mechanically it is excellent and overly serviced; no leaks or mysteries. Has original spare (unused), jack, tools, first aid kit, hazard triangle etc. Floor mats are original factory MB items. Carpets are perfect and so is headliner and seats. No dash cracks, fading, sun damage. No windshield cracks or damage. Tires are excellent and wheels have no curbing or rash or gouges. Body is steel with plastic front fenders and rear hatch door. A/C is r134 and is ice cold and heat is hot…it’s a modern car so it works great like an MB from this era. Has the original MB radio with a 6-disc changer in the trunk’s side compartment. I have all factory manuals. If you are local, you can come see it. No, I will not trade it for boats or land.

In Europe, an A class of this caliber might bring between $4,000 and $6,000. Even though it’s rare in this country, I’d doubt it will bring that much of a premium over that range. Interestingly, the seller does not have a reserve, so the car will sell. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but it’s more of an attractive proposition to me than one of the newer Smart cars. Provided you live in a state with less stringent emissions testing than California (read: any of the other 49 states), you might just be in luck and be able to have one of the few legal A classes stateside.

-Paul