At nearly £100,000, this Mercedes CLK63 AMG Black Series is hardly a bargain buy, but is its star-studded logbook testament to its sporty prowess?
John Evans
18 January 2019

Mercedes CLK63 AMG Black Series, £95,000: He can spot a star and, if his choice of wheels is any guide, a car, too. The X Factor judge Simon Cowell is the first name in the log book of this CLK63 AMG Black Series. A couple of others follow him but, as far as we know, they’re not music moguls. 

It’s a 2008-registered car with 14,000 miles on the clock. Just 25 right-hand-drive Black Series were made out of a total run of 700. New, it cost around £100,000. This particular car’s association with Cowell has bolstered its value but, even so, it’s a relative bargain compared with the £52,000 someone was asking 12 months ago for a crashed left-hooker imported from the US. (Its front end was a mess.) 

AMG says the CLK63 Black Series was inspired by the Porsche 911 GT3 RS. That’s a high bar, and to clear it, the company went to work on a ‘standard’ CLK63, adding more power (from 478bhp to 507bhp), better cooling, bulging wheel arches to house a wider track, adjustable suspension and lighter 19in alloys. 

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Elsewhere, the responses of the seven-speed automatic gearbox were sharpened and the limited-slip diff gained a dedicated oil cooler and pump to keep it from overheating. 

The cabin was given a makeover, with carbonfibre-reinforced plastic trim, a forged aluminium gear selector and bucket seats. 

The result of all this lightening, cooling, sharpening and tweaking was even better handling than the standard CLK63 and a 0.3sec reduction in the 0-62mph to 4.3sec. 

Along the way, the exhaust note gained extra character, too – the kind that has T-shirted music moguls rising to their feet to utter improbable percentages.

Nissan Almera GTI, £1789: Pulsar GTI, anyone? Might be just the thing to revive Nissan’s dull family hatch. That’s the trick the firm pulled off with its 1990s forebear, the Almera. The GTI version was a hoot. We found a tidy 1998 R-reg with 87k miles in racy black. Looks like a keeper

Chrysler Crossfire Roadster, £4970: Based on the Mk1 Mercedes SLK, so with rear drive and a 215bhp 3.2 V6 (as well as a supercharged SRT-6), the Crossfire found a small but keen audience when new. We were taken with this 2007-reg convertible (there was also a coupé) with 78k miles.

Prindiville electric Hummer, £25,000: A Hummer H2 could barely manage 10mpg but this electric lookalike will do 40 miles on a full charge and scoot around London without attracting the congestion charge. Scoot? Actually, it’ll do only 35mph tops but this 2012 example with 200 miles looks the bizz.

Mazda MX-3, £1995: Twenty years ago, you could stroll into a Mazda showroom and buy a small coupé with a 1.8-litre V6. Although it had only 128bhp, it enabled 0-62mph in 8.6sec and was as smooth as silk. We hope this 1997 P-reg one with 96k miles still feels as good. 

Auction watch

Ford Cougar: The hammer fell at just £950 on this 1999 Cougar 2.0, a 55,000-mile car with one previous owner. Was it a deal? Well, it has full service history and it looks bright. The exterior is relatively unmarked and the interior has scrubbed up really well. The engine has been steam-cleaned and lacquered and the bonnet slam panel and the inner wings look fresh. It’s a nice car but a shame it doesn’t have the more muscular 2.5 V6 engine. Still, at this distance (the Cougar was launched in 1998 and killed off in 2002) you can’t have everything. 

Get it while you can

Mazda 3 2.0 Sport Nav, price new- £22,165, price now - £18,490: We like the Mazda 3. In fact, it came close to nudging the new Ford Focus off that car’s top slot in our mega-test recently. We praised our 2.0-litre test car’s pin-sharp throttle response, well-weighted controls, and honest-feeling, firmly sprung chassis that gives great body control and good grip. So be silent as we mourn its imminent passing. Later this year, it’ll be replaced by an all-new 3. Time, then, to sniff out a few runout deals. We tracked down a 2018/68-reg 2.0 Sport Nav showing just 10 miles for £18,490, which is £3675 less than new. 

Clash of the classifieds

Brief: New year, new car. Find me a £30k car that’ll put a spring in my step.

Aston Martin DB9, £29,690: I’d imagine that if anything were to reinvigorate someone in the new year, it’d be this swanky Aston Martin. Its 451bhp 6.0-litre V12 offers plenty of grunt and it sounds amazing when given the berries. Inside, the interior comes liberally dressed in the finest leather and, even if you’ve put on a few Christmas pounds, there’s plenty of room to spread out. The exterior styling still looks suitably seductive, despite being 13 years old. Plus, it must be getting close to the bottom of its depreciation curve at just £29,690. Max Adams

Ariel Atom, £31,500: So what must a car that’s guaranteed to put a spring in your step contain? It must be an entirely passionate purchase, for one, with no care given for practicality or sensibilities. It must be bloody fast, it must look a million dollars (and cost substantially less) and it must stick to the road like glue. Oh, and it should be open, too, the more open the better, so that everyone can see you. This is wind-in-the-hair fun with the knob turned up to 11. There is only one car that combines all of these qualities and will rejuvenate the most jaded of palates: ladies and gentlemen, I give you… the Ariel Atom. Mark Pearson

Verdict: Chalk and cheese, indeed, but that DB9 is the Jacob’s Cream Cracker I’ve been looking for all my life. John Evans

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Comments
7

18 January 2019

That I live just 20 miles from the Ariel factory but, can't afford to buy an Atom.

Citroëniste.

18 January 2019

...can you afford an Aston Martin DB9

18 January 2019

I had one of these (a Pulsar SSS) a few years ago.  Best car I ever owned.  Until the police crushed it into a cube :-(

18 January 2019
jason_recliner wrote:

Until the police crushed it into a cube :-(

lol, what happened there? Sounds like a very Australian way to deal with a problem.

19 January 2019
Sonic wrote:
jason_recliner wrote:

Until the police crushed it into a cube :-(

 

lol, what happened there? Sounds like a very Australian way to deal with a problem.

I was going through a rough patch and overindulging in self destructive behaviours.  One thing led to another and I lost my car.  A bit harsh, but I probably needed a wake up call.

19 January 2019
jason_recliner wrote:

I was going through a rough patch and overindulging in self destructive behaviours.  One thing led to another and I lost my car.  A bit harsh, but I probably needed a wake up call.

Yikes, that's pretty harsh. Poor car :( . That's always been a stupid law, I don't know what destroying a car is going to achieve - It's not like the car was responsible.

19 January 2019

Have had two rides in a supercharged Atom at supercar charity days. Wow. Supercars may ultimately leave it behind as you hit very high speeds, but it's like nothing else I've ever been in. The first time was around the TG track (second time Rockingham) and with a very good driver taking me round, the first few fast corners were approaching scary! And I don't scare that easily in cars. The supercharger whine just adds to the drama. 

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