The transition from the W124 Mercedes-Benz E-Class coupe to CLK-Class coupe, which for all intents and purposes is an E-Class coupe as well, was a very clear evolution. It was an abrupt switch from the old-school Mercedes feel into a new modern age with softer styling and softer materials. Of course the wrench thrown into this is that while the W208 looked like a W210 E-Class both inside and out, it was actually built on the W202 C-Class chassis. You’d never really know this and Mercedes did a really nice job of covering that up, but none the less, the new-era of Mercedes was here. It was a very fresh design for the time and while impressive for its day, signaled a very clear end to philosophy of over-engineered and over-built coupes that Mercedes was known for since basically the beginning of the automobile. Times change and you need to adapt, and this is what Mercedes did. Just looking at the front end, you went from squared off and boxy look with headlights that were literal rectangles, to a set of ovals that were split apart into two different lights. A massive change in direction for sure, but it was new, and people bought them.
However, this also signaled the time where a Mercedes-Benz wasn’t really considered a car you kept for years on end, but rather a lease special and a race to get out the door with the lowest monthly payment. Twenty years later, this is still true across the entire model range with the exception of very few niche models. So where does that leave these now old cars? Nearly worthless, basically. There is no nostalgia for a 2000 CLK or 2001 S430. Any example that is more trouble than it is worth is scrapped without a second thought and only the nicest examples still remain. Today, I came across this CLK430 example in Philadelphia that still does maybe have some appeal to it. Outside of the terrible aftermarket grille, of course.