There's an argument to say the CLK63 Black Series
is the definitive AMG and the one that hit the sweet spot of what a fast Merc should be about before things got a bit over-complicated. That could be because the launch was one of the best events your humble correspondent has ever had the pleasure to attend. But even if AMG had unveiled it in Scunthorpe, and not glitzy LA, there's little doubt that opinion would remain intact.
£56K for this example looked tempting...
It's hard to pick a highlight from a launch packed with memorable moments. There was the frankly outrageous rate at which the improbably named Spunky Canyon road was taken. And the sphincter-tightening sight of a Highway Patrol car blocking the end of it, its occupants having been forewarned of the CLK's arrival for the previous 10 minutes by virtue of one of the best sounding V8s ever fitted to a mainstream production car. The boom of the engine echoing up that rocky valley must have been epic, not to mention utterly incriminating. As such a knowing nod and a grin was a relief, the road having been closed without anyone actually having told us it would be.
Then there was the track session on some crumbling annexe of Willow Springs. Usually on these events the chaperone ahead is there to cool your boots. But AMG are a bit different and the guys there are as interested in controlled pottering as your average hot-shoe hack. Up ahead in the bright orange CLK63 prototype - the CLK DTM-based cars used to shake down the mighty M156 6.2-litre V8 - AMG chassis man Arnd Meyer (since moved to BMW M) set a fearsome pace, before giggling back in the pits "Do you all drive Escort rally cars back at home? Because every time I look in the mirror the cars are sideways!"
...and then we saw the custom interior. Ew.
That's the CLK Black all over. It's all about fun. It's never going to trouble racier cars for lap times, for all the supposed track focused minimalism. It's got the easy-going charm of a car entirely content in its skin, the balance and surprising subtlety of its controls a fascinating counterweight to the thuggish brilliance of that fabulous, charismatic motor and aggressively configured locking diff. Sure, it's got an old-school auto. But the power band is so wide and worthy of exploration you're hardly in need of regular cog-swapping. And the steering and chassis - manually adjustable for geometry, ride height, bump, rebound and with 75mm extra in the front track and 66mm at the rear - are just fabulous. With an E46 M3 CSL's
restrained visual menace, it's frankly an even better car than the later C63 Black
, which has a similar character but never looks entirely comfortable in its stick-on wings and other overt track addenda.
Yup, the CLK Black is the one.
Bit more money but standard and lovely
So when we found one for £56K
we were taken aback. As was someone else, who's bought it since. Even with the ... delightful ... custom quilted leather interior, complete with stuffed intestine 'extra phat' steering wheel. Lovely.
Given the 'upgrades' to that unfortunate example the additional £10K for this standard version with Romans doesn't seem entirely unreasonable, even with 20K on the clock. Cars like this are sensitive to mileage, and examples with fewer on the clock can cost dramatically more. These things are built like tanks, though, and such fun to drive that tucking one away to speculate and accumulate is just a crime. A decent daily runabout cheaper than a C63 Black and, as above, quite possibly the better car, it's one we'd love to own.
MERCEDES CLK63 AMG BLACK SERIES
Engine: 6,208cc V8
Transmission: 7-speed auto
Power (hp): 507@6,800rpm
Torque (lb ft): 465@5,250rpm
MPG: 18.4mpg (NEDC combined)
First registered: 2007
Recorded mileage: 22,900
Price new: c. £100,000
Yours for: £64,950
See the original advert here.