Thought I would say hello and express how much I appreciate this forum with such a wealth of information for an obsessive DIY-er.
I'm pleased to back as an enthusiast of the marque aftering recently acquiring a CLK 430 (00). Everything feels so familiar, yet a bit different...
My first car was a 1973 450SEL that I managed buy in 1985, over a year before I was old enough to drive it -which worked out well since I had been working at an independent MBZ parts supplier in Anaheim, California for two years.
I wet sanded the old paint and had the original color resprayed. Removed the USA required (in 1973, but before the fatty big bumpers from '74 and later) overiders on the front bumper, and removed the "450SEL" from the trunk. I eventually drove the odomoter to over 220,000 miles before being tempted by a 6.9.
My sign-on is the first 6 digits in the VIN for a 6.9. (116 032=450SE, 116 033=450SEL, 116 036=450SEL 6.9
Ah, the 6.9... I need to pause for one moment out of respect. Damn, that was such an incredible machine. 380ft/lb of torque at 2500 rpm with an early version of what would later be called an "active suspension" by Japanese manufacturers. My specific car lacked the correct smog equipment but sounded very agressive, much like my 4.5 which was smog-exhempt with it's build date from 1973. It wasn't that big a deal, back then, to get a questionable car to clear the hurdle... even here in California. (Of course, today it's a whole new deal...).
I learned to hate that 6.9, though I still do love it today.
Unlike my 450, when something when "ping" and took a crap on you the conversation with the dealer would be unsettling: "Okay... let's see, alternator for a 450SEL, that's $200 bucks plus a core charg... What's that? OH! Oh, a 6.9!? Yeah... hang on a minute while I look that up. Yeah, it's $800, but I show it's back-ordered..."
So, when I was later approached by a gentleman to trade my 6.9 for his 911, I did not hesitate. I still believe it was a good call since that 911 continued on, sans hassle for 10 years as a daily driver/timetrialer. In fact, I still have that 911 today, and it is now a dedicated racecar (1900#, 3.6litre build in process...).
I didn't appreciate the WompAss that Mercedes-Benz brought to the world when it unleashed the CLK-DTM/GTR... but, you know, I was (and still am) more closely tied to that smaller firm aross town campaigning the GT-1-98/LM. See 911 love-story above...
Now that I've acquired this CLK 430 to replace my [we-were-really-close-but-it-wasn't-love] Saab 9-5 Aero I'm wondering where I've been for so long! I'd love a double-nickle, but having been scared by the 6.9 vs 450SEL I decided to play it somewhat safe drinking less fuel and eating smaller brake-pads in the hopes that some tiny bits of change will make it to the racing budget...
Anyway, I wanted to say hello and comment that I'm pleased so have another sensationally styled, comfortable and graceful performer in this fluid rock of a car. If the old 930 (single turbo 911) was Dr. Jekell & Mr. Hyde, then this CLK is definately Clark Kent & Superman!
I'm looking forward to sharing stories and learning!
Thanks for looking!