・One of only 121 left on the UK Roads ・Extensive history ・Well-maintained example ・Elegance Package
When Mercedes-Benz launched the C208 CLK in 1997 they combined the distinguished, established, and well-mannered styling of the E-Class saloon with the compact, nimble underpinnings of the C-Class. Initially offered with an option of petrol or diesel in-line fours, demand was strong, and popularity continued with a facelifted version which followed by the turn of the century. For customers with a desire for comfort, the Elegance trim level had all the options ticked, and for those after something even more special, a 4.3-litre V8 was dropped into the engine bay, offering drama, and a brisk 6-second 0-60. It made for a comfortable, spacious cruiser and carried with it the durability and understated effortlessness associated with the brand.
Bought by its present owner in 2019, it has spent much of its time being simply looked-after. In its preceding 10 years it has covered 10,000 miles and under its current ownership fewer than 700 – all on dry days. With the absence of much travel requirement in today’s world of remote working, garage space is to be made for something else.
Recent works include a new multi-function LCD panel on the instrument panel (replacing the pixelated tired unit), and a full service.
The history folder is very comprehensive and includes the car’s own appearance in Modern Classics magazine. The provenance is extensive and shows a history of meticulous owners cataloguing its service, MoT and mileage history. It even includes keeper search from the early century.
As one might expect from the marque, the interior has robustly stood up well to its twenty years of service, though one might point out that when the clock has yet to register its sixth digit, it is perhaps no surprise it looks so accommodating. The frameless doors are inviting, with unblemished door cards. The stainless kick plates, which subtly remind the owner (and visitors) of its V8 pedigree, are unmarked. The only immediately visible signs of age are some blemishes, the plastic trim on the rear seat, and the wood in the centre console – minor marks when one considers the car comes from a time when Pulp sang about meeting up.
The original floor mats are kept in the boot (in case they get dirty); temporary stand-ins adorn the footwells during ‘normal’ operation. The boot interior is clean and dry, and the switchgear is as-new – including the headlamp washer which the current owner is reluctant to use because it leaves water marks.
The paintwork is good and polishes up well and only on the front valance do there appear to be any chips in the paint, and even then they are minor. The wheels are in good condition and exceptionally clean, with few marks or corrosion, though do have some minor bubbles under the surface. The tops of the wheel arches also possess some tiny spider’s legs of bubbling as can be seen on the photographs, though fundamentally the car appears very solid and rot-free. The body shut lines and panel gaps, as one might expect from Stuttgart, are even and tight. The engine bay is also remarkably clean.
Start-up from cold is instant and smoke-free, and the big V8 settles to a smooth idle with a satisfying intake burble. The recent service included a new set of spark plugs which the owner believes was the first in many years. At face value, a change of plugs might seem somewhat par-for-the-course, but with two spark plugs per cylinder, the M113 engine means a trolley is required in Halfords that Sunday morning, and a fair amount of time and effort in the afternoon. The car also sits well-shod on Dunlop SportMaxx RT2s.
It’s the year 2000. The best-selling single of the year is Bob the Builder but you don’t care about such things. You’re well-heeled, but in Blair’s Britain, don’t feel the need to outwardly display it. Instead, you want comfort, and to listen to your CDs in peace and quiet whilst cruising at high speed. You have an appreciation for the internal combustion engine and like the thought of a spark-plugs-to-seats ratio of 4:1. For these reasons, you buy a Benz 430 V8.
And in 2021? Well, Blair gave back the keys to No. 10, and HRH is now apparently on her 14th PM, and today’s world features a rise in hybrids and batteries which is inversely proportional to the world’s population of big V-engines. There’s a space in everyone’s garage for something a bit special, and time could very well be running out. And Benz's ultimate appeal lies in its fundamental nature: effortless, understated, and with elegance. It even says so on the wings.
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