It’s 13 years old but this Mercedes is topical in used car circles. Here’s why
Mercedes dumps DTM… and all to ease its conscience and promote the firm’s caring side in Formula E. But, well, in terms of DTM – what has it ever done for us? For 100 lucky individuals it spawned this – the Mercedes CLK DTM AMG, launched in 2004 to celebrate Mercedes’ dominance in the 2003 DTM season (winning nine of 10 rounds).
Even today the CLK DTM’s technical specification is impressive. A fair amount of the bodywork is carbon fibre and the suspension is height-adjustable. The multi-link rear axle features new spring links, wheel carriers and upgraded driveshafts. Also, all rubber is replaced with uniball joints and there’s a plated limited-slip differential – a sensible upgrade considering this street CLK replaced the racecar’s 460bhp 4-litre V8 with a heavily revised version of the AMG road car engine of the time; a 5.4-litre supercharged V8. With forged pistons, new intake and exhaust, revised cam duration and more boost for the supercharger it produces 572bhp at 6100rpm and 590lb ft at 3500rpm.
Sounds good, right? And it is. On a smooth circuit the CLK DTM is sensational. The structure feels incredibly stiff, the suspension precise and the quick steering (1.75 turns lock-to-lock) is beautifully in tune with the fast reactions of the stable platform. The engine is a monster. It lacks the pre-programmed crackles of a modern AMG but the noise is deep and the throttle response excellent, allowing you to accurately meter out the huge torque. And the five-speed auto gearbox – a weak link in this era of AMG – feels fast on upshifts, even if sometimes it’s reluctant to give you a downshift when you ask for it.
You turn and it darts into the apex, the rear instantly taking on attitude and requiring real care. The ESP system is a little over-protective but you can feel why that might be.
Overall, the DTM is a real surprise and a clear inspiration to the Black Series line that has followed. If DTM created more cars like this, Mercedes’ decision to leave really would be a tragedy on a Shakespearean scale.
Price new: £180,000 Price now: c£200,000 Rivals: Porsche 996 GT2, 2010 BMW M3 GTS Heritage: This is it – first and last ‘DTM’ badged Merc
SPEAKING TO HARVEY STANLEY
Acquisitions consultant at DK Engineering, leading supplier of rare and prestige cars
We have a car for sale on behalf of a client in the Far East. We store it for him and he loves using it for road trips whenever he’s in Europe… although he also enjoys a change so it is available for £200,000. CLK DTMs are properly rare cars – especially in right-hand drive, as they built only 40. I’m not aware of another rhd car having changed hands for at least 18 months. Once they enter a collection, they generally tend to stay there. I believe there’s a cabriolet coming up for auction fairly shortly, but I think the coupé body is better suited to this car’s character. These are much more usable than many other stripped-out cars of this type – absolutely lovely things to drive.