Shed of the Week | Mercedes-Benz CLK (W208)

The gen-one CLK, or W208 to give it its proper name, was a 'lugzhury' coupe or convertible on sale between 1997 and 2002/3. It was a hybrid of sorts: E-Class looks on a cheaper C-Class platform. That's why they called it a CLK rather than an ELK. Oh. Well, looking at that maybe there was another reason.

Topping the CLK range was the GTR. This had the same instruments, grille, headlamps and (Alcantara apart) steering wheel as the regular CLK, but in every other respect it was a Frankensteinian FIA GT car with a monster 6.9-litre mid-mounted V12 and bodywork developed with the help of a secretly-bought McLaren F1 GTR.

The idea of the GTR was to rub a bit of desirability into the standard CLK. One look at the steering wheel and instrument array (in either car) tells you that it wasn't the most subtle plan ever devised. Most CLK owners wouldn't have known an FIA GT car if it ran over them and, looking at it from the perspective of one of the 25 mugs who stumped up $1.5 million each for the privilege of homologated GTR ownership - a world record for a 'production' car at the time - the horribly blatant associations with a mass-produced coupΓ© didn't work so well for them either.

Those first buyers took a massive hit through the Noughties, when you could hardly give GTRs away. Even the prototypes were making a 60-70% loss at auction, but something weird has happened to GTR values in recent times. Maybe the memory of the standard CLK has faded sufficiently to rehabilitate it. Whatever, if you weren't that much of a mug and could afford to hold on to your GTR, you'd be quids in by now. Last year number 9 GTR made over $4.5 million at Sothebys.

Luckily, prices of non-racy CLKs certainly haven't gone up. Most, like today's Shed, have gone very much down, mainly because the first thought that springs to mind at the sight of a turn of the century Mercedes (that wasn't hand-built by white-coated AMG boffins and then stored in a heated underground garage) is bodywork rust.

But there's a pleasant surprise here. Nowhere on this 1999 car's MOT history is body rot mentioned. Actually, last September's MOT painted a picture of a car with no major issues, but with a possibility of money needing to be spent this September. It had slightly worn front ARB and upper arm bushes, a slightly corroded rear coil spring, slightly deteriorated brake hoses, slightly poor rear brake discs, a slightly deteriorated and corroded exhaust system, and an MOT tester slightly obsessed with the word slightly.

Having said all that, many of these advisories are long-runners that have never dragged themselves up the MOT cert into the Reasons for Failure section, so it's not necessarily the case that the next owner will have to stump up for anything. Plus, they won't have to worry about it for another 12 months because according to the ad it's got, or is getting, a BRAND NEW MOT.

So, what would you get for your Β£1,495? The pillarless gen-two CLK of 2002-09 was a lot more elegant than the gen-one, but these first CLKs do have a certain snubby hunchback appeal if you don't mind appalling over-the-shoulder visibility. Our one scores points by not being powered by a four-pot, instead having a 215bhp 3.2-litre V6 of passable smoothness.

This one is an Avantgarde. The Elegance was the most luxurious, the SE was pov spec and the Avantgarde was somewhere in between, M-B's effort at being cool/sporty/trendy. Avantgarde originally referred to trim and suspension, but over time it started to take in spec too. Shed thinks this car has sports seats, which if true is a good thing as they are a lot better than the standard perches, but doubtless someone will be along to set the record straight.

What's to go wrong then, apart from structural corrosion? This car's build date means it shouldn't be vulnerable to the leaking of coolant into the transmission oil cooler thing that saddled many 2000-2003 Benz automatic owners with nasty bills, but you do need to watch out for oil getting into the auto's electronics. Blocked bulkhead drain holes lead to the usual damp interior and potential ECU troubles. Add steamed up headlamps and a seized up Monowipe to that list.

Point being, you may sneer at it now, but you have to remember that these were quite sought after when new, with big premiums being paid to get into CLK Cabrios in particular. If you can set aside your prejudices and boil it right down to 'solid Merc with biggish six-cylinder engine', then you might even be able to forgive an interior colour scheme that looks well suited to a spot of freelance GBH or some light murdering.

The big question though, surely, is how much would it cost to convert our SOTW into a GTR replica?

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Comments (68) Join the discussion on the forum

  • BeastieBoy73 28 Jun 2019

    Another fine looking shed, even with that colour interior.

  • alorotom 28 Jun 2019

    See now I love that interior. I had an RX8 with similar colouring and loved that too ... horses for courses

    These always struck me as barge-territory and willowy though - never driven one. Just looks it to me.

    Is there a chance these will start to increase - many have been reduced to tin worm


    Never mind - I thought the interior was brown not a reddy/bergundy colour - looked brown on my phone! Not a fan lol

    Edited by alorotom on Friday 28th June 08:07

  • helix402 28 Jun 2019

    It has a slightly pinky/red interior. With a slightly woody bit.

  • Johnspex 28 Jun 2019

    I expect this is just me but when you're a kid and you paint your Airfix kit and you get a bit of the wrong colour paint somewhere you think ' I'll paint that bit that colour too, oops, done it again, I'll paint that bit that colour as well ' and so on, well, that's what that interior looks like.
    Still has some remnants of class though.

  • 2smoke 28 Jun 2019

    Nice waft mobile. Dodgy interior would just add to the experience.

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