The introduction of the W208 Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class was a little bit of a shock if you were coming from a W124 E-Class coupe. Suddenly everything that was square was now round, and the interior felt….well, a little less quality. I’m sure Mercedes had some kind of spin about how it was modernizing it for the new millennium, but there was no mistaking the difference. You also were swapping a smooth inline-six for a squared-off V6, which I’m sure buyers didn’t really notice the difference of – as long as it started every morning. I think time gave us the answer as really nice E320 Coupes sell for strong money, while the best CLK320 examples, like the one we have today, won’t even sell for half that value.
Dumping a bunch of money into a car and having it be worth than what you spent is rarely a math problem that makes sense. Usually if the math does make sense, you have to spend tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes hundreds of thousands. With today’s car, that is not the case.
This is a 2002 Mercedes-Benz CLK320. A seemingly forgettable car in terms of Mercedes coupes as it followed up the legendary W124 coupe and a long line of stately coupes prior to that. It was based on the W202 C-Class but had every intention of making you think it was an E-Class coupe. It was not. The build quality with a step backwards from the W124 with cheap materials and soft looks, but that didn’t matter to prospective buyers as it had a “fresh” look heading into 2000 and the lease deals were good. Then the car got old and everyone moved on. Today, they are pretty worthless in the Mercedes world outside of the very best CLK55 AMGs and it will probably stay that way. The seller of this CLK320 had a different feeling about that. Let me explain.
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.
It seems that in my region of America that the seasons went summer straight into winter judging by one day it was 82 degrees and the next it was 44 degrees. That of course means that convertible season is over just like that unless you are a logical person that lives in an area where the weather doesn’t keep you glued to your bed when your alarm goes off in the morning. If that is the case, I might have a cabriolet that probably isn’t the first model that pops into your head when someone says ”Mercedes convertible”, but that doesn’t make it’s not a worthy example. This 2001 CLK320 Cabriolet up for sale in Connecticut is probably one of the better C208s I’ve run across in a while and even though that the temperatures are freezing outside, I thought it deserved a closer look. It’s worth it if only just to look at these outstanding photos.
Although I am not big fan of the first generation Mercedes-Benz CLK, I do have a soft spot for the CLK55 AMG. I’ve done a deep dive into them before and my stance on them hasn’t changed. Despite being equipped with the same 5.4 liter M113 from AMG, the CLK55 is about 80% of what the brother W210 E55 is. Mercedes probably has their reasons, but it always felt like the CLK55 was cheaped-out on and the spec sheet backs that up. Still, I think at the end of the day these are cool cars that will have some kind of collectibility in the future. Today, I wanted to check out a low mileage 2001 with the Designo interior up for sale in Pennsylvania. The best part about it is that it probably can be had for a pretty decent price.
Last week I checked out a 2011 Mercedes-Benz E550 Coupe and broke down how even though Mercedes calls it an E-Class Coupe, it was about 80% W204 C-Class and 20% W212 E-Class. This isn’t a new thing as Mercedes has been doing this for a few generations now and today we have another example of this in a 2002 CLK55 AMG up for sale in South Carolina. This W208 looks like a W210 E-Class cosmetically, but under that metal is actually the chassis of the W202 C-Class. Inside, you have a small handful of parts from the W203 C-Class and many more parts unique just to the CLK55 and not from the brother of this car, the W210 E55 AMG. Once again, buyers of this car probably had no idea of all this and probably didn’t care all that much either. C’est la vie.
Earlier this week I checked out a great 2000 Mercedes-Benz SL500 with some Designo touches that hit all the right buttons for me. Today, we have another Mercedes-Benz convertible with some Designo treatment, but this one is a little bit different. What we are looking at is a 2003 CLK430 finished in Designo Mocca Black paint with Designo light brown leather interior. I think the thing about the W208 is that it wasn’t really great at anything. It had the enormous task of replacing the W124 Cabriolet that was and still is an outstanding car in more ways than one, but the first-generation CLK Cabriolet was strange mash-up of W202 and W210 parts. Yes, it looked fresh at the time and had a lot of modern updates for its era, but at the end of the day you could really feel that the quality just wasn’t there like the W124. That doesn’t mean it is a bad car, but rather one that you knew from the beginning what you going to get out of it: an average experience.
I still can’t resist using this forum to highlight some oddities that otherwise wouldn’t see the light of day, even if they do fall out of line of our typical finds. See this S320 as an example. What we have here is another Benz with a custom paint job I couldn’t resist sharing.
1999 Mercedes CLK430 with custom paint on eBay
Not much to say here.. The CLK has 83,000 miles. The seller states it has new brakes and that the 20″ rims and tires are also new. The seller doesn’t go into details about the accident that totaled the car, but it looks like it was front end. Hard to tell exactly from the pictures, but that hood looks replaced. The detail work on the paint job looks well done, just unexpected.
It’s a vehicle with a rebuilt title sold on eBay with a seller with zero feedback with a paint job for a very specific set of tastes. The car is at $2,700 with the reserve not met. Any guesses on end price?