Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class is First Produced

The Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class was a mid-size rear-wheel drive coupé/convertible.

While it was based on the W202 and W203 platforms of the C-Class, its styling cues, engine, and price range are closer to that of the E-Class, with Mercedes-Benz slotting the CLK as a coupé version of the W210 and W211 E-Class sedan/wagon. The CLK succeeded the W124 E-Class Coupe and it was in turn replaced by the W212 E-class Coupe.

The first-generation CLK was introduced in 1996, 3 years after the 1st generation (W202) C-Class model. The launch of the CLK also marked Mercedes' first foray into the mid-sized coupe market, as the W124 E-Class Coupe was considered a two-door sedan rather than a coupe.
Less expensive than the sporty SL-Class convertibles, the first generation CLK cabriolet was the most successful convertible Mercedes-Benz ever offered; 41,520 were sold in the United States from 1999 to 2003, and more than 115,000 were sold throughout the world.

The CLK cabriolet is known in the UK as the Loafer because of its resemblance in profile to an Oxford Brogue.
Versions offered in the first generation were the CLK 200(136 PS), CLK 200 Kompressor(192 PS), CLK 230 Kompressor(193 PS), CLK 320(218 PS), CLK 430(279 PS) and the CLK 55 AMG(347 PS). All were available in both coupé and convertible form.
The CLK 320 Coupé was introduced in the 1997 model year, powered by a 3.2 L V6 engine. The CLK 320 Cabriolet and the 4.3 L V8-powered CLK 430 appeared in 1999. The high-performance CLK 55 AMG, which was introduced first in Europe in 2000, was powered by the "M113" 5.4 L V8 engine. The CLK 55 AMG cabriolet became available in 2002, the last year of this body style.

The Mercedes Benz CLK Class of automobiles was first made available for sale to automotive enthusiasts and the distinguished consumers who appreciated such high quality automobiles in 1996. The first mid sized automobile offered by Mercedes proved itself true to the reputation of a Mercedes in both form and function. This mid sized luxury car did not disappoint in terms of luxurious features, superior handling and sophisticated styling. The first generation of Mercedes Benz CLK Class, the W208, was available in four different models with all models being available as either a coupe or a convertible.

In 2003, the W209 emerged as the second generation of the Mercedes CLK Class and as of 2007 is still the current generation of the Mercedes CLK Class of vehicles. The new CLK Class was enhanced by only a few relatively minor changes to the overall design and function of the vehicle. The most significant changes to the new generation of Mercedes Benz CLK Class vehicles are evident in the sportier frame and trim. The CLK 430's also received a bigger, faster V8 engine and were rebadged as the Mercedes Benz CLK 500's.

The current generation of CLK Class of vehicles has undergone a few changes throughout the years that have improved their handling and performance and have also slightly increased the size of the CLK Class. Just as sexy as either a cabriolet or coupe, the only real downside to the sophisticated high performance Mercedes Benz CLK Class of vehicles it that they carry an equally high price tag.

In addition to the usual lineup of extremely seductive W202 and W203 Mercedes Benz CLK's, there were a few CLK production cars that were made in limited quantities. In 1997, Mercedes Benz designed and built a race car that was slated to participate in the prestigious FIA GT Championship series that year. Only the mandatory minimums of limited production vehicles were manufactured as the Mercedes Benz CLK GTR. One GLK GTR was revamped, updated and rebadged as the Mercedes Benz CLK LM for participation in the 24 Hours of Le Mans sports car endurance race in 1998.

The Mercedes Benz also made limited quantities of the CLK DTM AMG for the 2006 model year. Only 80 convertibles and 100 coupes were manufactured as the Mercedes Benz CLK DTM AMG. This dynamically designed sports car CLK DTM AMG and its supercharged V8 engine could hit 100 mph in a mere 3.9 seconds, with top speeds averaging between 320 mph for the coupe and 300 mph for the cabriolet/convertible version.