We have 15 years of archives. Links older than a year may have been updated to point to similar cars available to bid on eBay.
Put down your pitchforks and extinguish your torches, that’s not needed today for this Frankenstein creation. What is needed is a little bit of perspective and thought beyond what you initially see – a bagged car with a wild color wrap and bolt on fender flairs. Normally these things would be off-putting to most enthusiasts, but are the bones of this build sound? Let’s take a look at this W202 AMG for sale in California.
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.
In 1999, if you wanted a small German performance car capable of carrying several adults, you had a few options. First, you could select the BMW M3 – the benchmark for performance in the category, the E36 was nearing the end of it’s life cycle and the sedan had been dropped for the last model year. There was no M3 Touring model available, so if you wanted a wagon you needed to move over to the folks from Ingolstadt; Audi’s second generation S4. While unlike the M3 you couldn’t opt for a convertible, importantly if you wanted to carry your 2.2 children and dog in style they had the Avant available. While BMW’s neutered U.S. spec M3 made it by with only 240 horsepower, Audi’s twin turbocharged V6 offered less displacement but waves of torque and 250 horsepower. Those were the days when a 10 horsepower jump over your competition was a pretty big deal. So, you can imagine the shock when Mercedes-Benz introduced it’s new take on the small executive performance market with the introduction of the V8-engined C43 AMG. While the C36’s inline-6 had a 26 horsepower advantage over its nearest rival, the C43 broke through the 300 horsepower mark with the M113, with 306 horsepower, but staggeringly also 302 lb.ft of torque. That’s a lot, even by today’s standard, and it was not only available in sedan form, but also in Touring form. Though the Tourings never made it to these shores, one has popped up on eBay and is for sale in the Great White North:
The Mercedes-Benz C43 AMG is one of those cars that I never cared for all that much. A V8 stuffed under the hood of a compact sedan sounds like fun, but in this case it always seemed like Mercedes failed to execute what was a great idea on paper. Though it was significantly more powerful than the E36 M3, it didn’t garner the same respect in its heyday and not much has changed. I’m fine with the understated appearance, there are few things as fun as driving a sleeper Benz but I think this car is just too bland for my tastes. The most aggressive thing about it is the mono block AMG wheels, the exhaust note is just as toned down as the styling, fine for a normal Benz but this is an AMG, let that V8 sing! I wonder just how much more popular this car would have been if it had a raucous exhaust note like the C63 that eventually followed. Of course a big part of why the M3 was more popular despite being less powerful is that the M3 could be had with a manual where as the C43 was auto only. It was, however, a stout 5-speed gearbox borrowed from V12 models that was supposed to learn a drivers habits and improve the driving experience, so I suppose there is is some credit due there.
Ah the late 1990’s, what a great time to be alive. I was in middle school, enjoying things like playing Quake II and Goldeneye 007, perhaps the occasional R rated movie if the right person was taking tickets at the local two plex. The US economy was booming thanks to a rapidly expanding industry related to a little thing called “the world wide web” and there were a whole lot of folks out there with disposable income who had no idea how to spend it. Like any good automaker, the folks at Mercedes-Benz worried about these youngsters with more money than sense and set about finding a way to capitalize on their new found wealth. The result was a juiced up W202 C-Class, the first car to be completely assembled by AMG and the first to feature a Mercedes Benz V8. The C43 AMG would set the stage for the next generation of AMG vehicles and without this car who knows if we’d have ever gotten the glorious C63 AMG.