Your Cars

Your Cars: Dave Rolston’s CLK…

Get your top off, you hussy!

Ah the South of France. Cruising along the Promenade des Anglais, the Moyenne Corniche and sidling down the Avenue du Port in Monaco to your yacht.

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The Mercedes Benz CLK Convertible…

Shoestring wind in your hair class.

Ah the South of France. Cruising along the Promenade des Anglais, the Moyenne Corniche and sidling down the Avenue du Port in Monaco to your yacht.

Except it’s not the South of France, it’s the North of Ireland and it’s considerably closer to the Arctic Circle, friggin’ freezing and I’m in a convertible!

Now I’ve got a confession to make. When I bought my 03 Mercedes Benz CLK200K Convertible it cost me £2900. However, that was 2016 and the same car now can be got for well below two grand so I’m imploring The Pollitt to make a little eensy weensy exception. There were good reasons for breaking the rules slightly in 2016 as you’ll see. For two thousand nine hundred of Her Maj’s pounds I got a one owner Mercedes CLK200K Convertible with a service book fully and regularly stamped by Mercedes Benz of Belfast and an odometer that said (and I kid you not) 44’004 miles. Bar some car park scuffs the thing was like new. The wind deflector was still in it’s delivery plastic wrapping inside its carry case in the boot, the instruction card was still attached to said deflector with the little white elastic stretchy thingy. The handbooks were still in the wallet in the glove box and looked untouched but for the service book. This car was the mother lode of used cars.

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I suppose it’s only fair to expand on living with 2nd hand Mercs. There’s feeling that having a used Merc will be your first step to rack and ruin. Believe me it’s not although there is one golden unbreakable rule you must adhere to – do not under any circumstances go anywhere near a Mercedes Benz dealership. Find a good Mercedes Indy, check the Clubs and Forums for recommendations, there are plenty of highly recommended Merc Indies around. The majority of Merc service parts are available in any motor factors and Merc specific parts can be got as OEM or as salvage. As long as you don’t buy it directly from Mercedes parts prices are reasonable but not scandalous. By way of example I had my ML and the CLK in for work about a month back and the following was done. ML- new Bosch AGM battery, new turbo seals, 2 x parking sensors, CLK – salvaged MAF, plugs, 1 x parking sensor and the whole lot including labour was £440. Mercs are expensive to run are they?

Anyways, back to the CLK. The 200 Kompressor engine isn’t going to pining you to the seat with 161hp and 240nm torque but that’s not what the CLK is about. The CLK is a mile eater – either roof up or down it’ll sit at the speed limit all day long. The 5G Tronic is silky smooth and adds to the overall waftiness, you can tap it up and down the gears with the shifter if you want but honestly stick it in drive and give yourself a rest. While not as good as a fully boxed in car the noise from the soft top isn’t bad and on less clement days the cabin is a pleasant place to be. But the CLKs big trick is the electric roof. In about 30 seconds you can be out in the elements and enjoying the wind in your hair and still have enough boot space for a, um, small bag or two. I’m being slightly unfair, the boot is quite generous for a convertible but access is the issue – I suspect in the Mercedes accessory catalogue of the day there was luggage specifically designed to fit the CLK.

You can operate the roof remotely from the key fob but the range isn’t great however it is quite a neat party trick. Finally of course, unlike the SLK and the SL the CLK is a full four-seater so you can cruise about with 3 friends or some squirrels.

If you want some open air fun for little outlay you should seriously consider a CLK. It’s a good solid comfortable car with all the toys although for some reason the original purchaser didn’t tick the heated seats option (WTF?). The inside of any Mercedes is a very pleasant experience and thankfully Mercedes saw the error of their 90s ways and things are very well put together. The doors have a teutonic solid thunk and all the switches and knobs have a good mechanical feel. With the Avantgarde spec there’s two tone leather upholstery with ruched leather panels in the door and panel cards. Rather than wood we have a sort of expanded aluminium effect metallic trims which to be fair have stood the test of time rather well. With the addition of a cheap Chinese double-DIN head unit it brings that car right up to date with inbuilt SatNav, streaming, Bluetooth hands free and all those toys. And don’t forget, in the early 2000s Merc were starting to build cars properly again and using steel rather than cheese.

I really like my CLK. I know I got a serious amount of very well maintained and relatively underused car for my money. I had an R170 SLK230K before this and while it was an absolute hoot but it was like getting in to a Dinky toy. The CLK is much more elegant in its looks and the way it gets down the road. As I said, it’s not going to be winning any races but CLK will just cruise around looking handsome and it knows it.

If you really must win races there’s a fire-breathing, shouty V8 AMG CLK 55

Oh and don’t forget – classic insurance!

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