We’ve always liked the looks of the first generation Mercedes CLK class, known internally as the W208, and we really like this 2003 Mercedes CLK 320 Cabriolet. The soft top cabriolet version is especially good looking, and in today’s market, represents an excellent value. Well kept examples with reasonable miles can usually be found under $10,000. Cars under 50,000 miles creep into the mid teens and extremely low mile cars easily bring over $20,000.
The specific car we’re highlighting today is a 2003 Mercedes CLK 320 Cabriolet and it’s ON THE MARKET in Minneapolis, MN (craigslist). The seller’s description is brief, but the photos are surprisingly good. The car appears to be in very nice cosmetic condition with 76,470 miles on its odometer. Price: “$8,600 or best offer”
The exterior color appears to be Pewter Metallic, a sort of gold / gray, a fairly common color across all Mercedes classes in the early – mid 2000s. The interior color is Ash (grey) and it’s got a black soft top. Looking at the photos of the interior we can see that the original radio head unit is still in place and that this car was equipped with navigation from the factory, fairly rare on an E 320 in 2003. The rubber mast antenna on the driver’s side rear fender is correct for this car, CLKS did not come with retractable antennas for the radio.
The W208 body style CLK was introduced for the 1997 model year in the U.S. The Coupe version lasted through 2002 while the cabriolet version went through 2003, so this is a last year W208 CLK Cabriolet. The CLK was offered with two different engines in the U.S. The 3.2 liter V6, like we have in this car, produces 215 HP, it’s equipped with a 5 speed automatic transmission. The CLK 430 was equipped with a 4.3 liter V8 produced 275 HP. The CLK 320 is plenty powerful, the 3.2 liter is surprisingly peppy while returning pretty good gas mileage, an EPA reported 20 mpg city and 27 mpg highway.
As these cars approach 20 years of age, there are a number of maintenance items that need to be addressed.
On the cabriolets, the hydraulic cylinders for the soft top mechanism usually begin to leak hydraulic fluid and require rebuilding or replacement. There are seven such cylinders in the CLK Cabriolet. There are a number of shops around the country where you can send your top cylinders to be rebuilt with new seals to last another 20 years. Some owners take on the removal of the cylinders themselves, others have their trusted shop do the work. Once they’re rebuilt, of course, they have to be reinstalled. Removal and reinstallation labor represents the majority of the cost here.
The seller’s complete description as it appears on craigslist is pasted below for your reference. They claim it’s a 2 owner California car, but any interested buyer would want to have a look at the Carfax and do their own due diligence regarding past ownership history.
The Craigslist ad, cut and pasted:
“2003 Mercedes CLK 320 3.2L
76,470 On The Odometer
Timeless Drop Top
Car Fax Avalible
No problems, No Rust
Engine & Transmission Runs Like New
Don’t Miss Your chance
Call for more questions
Going For $8600 or best offer”
A CLK 320 is a car that, if well maintained, should provide comfortable and elegant motoring for a couple of hundred thousand miles. These are known to be good, reliable cars which, today, can be purchased for a fraction of their original price.
CAVEAT EMPTOR! We suggest anyone interested in a car that we’ve highlighted via our ‘ON THE MARKET’ series do their due diligence when considering a purchase. Take the time to have a pre-purchase inspection done at a local shop. IF you can’t inspect the car yourself, have someone you trust have a look at it for you. Inspect the title before moving forward with a purchase. If something doesn’t eel right about the car or the seller, don’t buy the car.