With looks inspired by the Vision SLR concept unveiled at the 1999 Detroit motor show and a galvanised body guaranteed to prevent the rust that corroded Mercedes’ reputation throughout the 1990s, an SLK R171 is a great second-hand buy.
Mercedes-Benz SLK 200, £7450: It was launched in 2004, facelifted in 2008 and expired in 2010 – long enough, then, to generate a fair quantity of motors ranging in price from around £2500 for an early SLK 200 to £11,000 for a late-plate 300. Feeling flush? Tidy – and potent – SLK 55s start at around £12,500 and go to £20,000 for a 2009-reg.
Our choice would be a 2008 facelifted model (it gained a new nose and rear end plus more than 650 other new parts, including a new instrument cluster). Given the SLK isn’t the last word in performance and handling, we’d save our money for something undemanding such as the SLK 200 auto we found. Registered in 2008 and with 63,000 miles, it has a full history, black leather trim, silver paint and the essential Airscarf neck warmer.
All good so far, but we’d be keen to check the timing chain is quiet from cold and that the auto ’box shifts smoothly, especially into reverse. A quick spin around the block should tell us how the front and rear antiroll bars are behaving (the bushes are a weak spot), while a poke about underneath will give us a chance to check no springs are broken. While there, we’ll check the rear subframe for corrosion.
Finally, to the SLK’s party trick: its folding roof. It’s sure to work but lack of use can allow dust to clog the microswitches. Now you wouldn't want that, would you?