By on January 17, 2022

2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsLuxury coupes were falling out of favor among well-heeled American car shoppers around the turn of the century, with luxury trucks gaining sales ground by the minute, but that didn’t stop Mercedes-Benz from releasing a sporty new C-Class-based two-door with a big V8 and big price tag, starting in the 1999 model year: The CLK 430. As so often happens with costly European luxury machinery, this one took a hard depreciation hit during its time on the road, and now it resides in a Northern California self-service yard.

2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 in California junkyard, decklid badge - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsList price on this car started at $49,100 (about $81,100 today), with the V6-powered CLK 320 coupe priced at $41,600. The convertible version of the CLK430 cost an impressive $55,600.

AMG versions of the CLK became available starting in the 2002 model year (yes, they show up in junkyards now), which must have motivated this car’s owner to drop $15.99 on a badge.

2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 in California junkyard, engine - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsEven without the AMG hardware, the CLK 430 was plenty powerful; this 4.3-liter V8 made 275 horsepower. That’s 15 fewer than the ’00 Lexus SC 400 got, but the Lexus weighed 300 pounds more than the Mercedes-Benz.

2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 in California junkyard, LH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsAt some point, probably not long before this car ended up here, the original Black Opal Metallic hood was replaced by this Brilliant Silver one. Perhaps that hood was purchased from this very yard.

2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 in California junkyard, RH front view - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsHow long did the final owner drive the car in this condition? We cannot say.

2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 in California junkyard,decal - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsIn its younger days, this CLK was sold used under the factory Starmark program.

2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK430 in California junkyard, gauges - ©2022 Murilee Martin - The Truth About CarsI’d need to power up the ECU and the gauge cluster to get the final odometer reading on this car. I’ve done so with an 8xAAA battery pack and test leads on a Subaru Forester, but I suspect that a Mercedes-Benz would resist my crude attempts to wake up the odometer.


Pretty much the same thing as a jetpack.

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47 Comments on “Junkyard Find: 2000 Mercedes-Benz CLK 430 Coupe...”


  • avatar
    golden2husky

    Ah, MB of the aughts…how the mighty have fallen. Brother had one of these (not AMG) and frankly it was crap. Look at those instruments – did they get the guage faces from a Hyundai XG 350?

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      these actually preceded the XG 350 by 5 years or so.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Perhaps, but you get what I mean…these look horribly out of place on what is supposed to be a Mercedes. MB really dropped the ball when they moved from “engineered like no other car in the world” to building to a price point – they sucked at it.

        • 0 avatar
          kurkosdr

          The real problem was (and is) that none of the savings from all that engineering to a price point were (or are) passed down to the customer.

          At this point, Daimler and VAG are the GMs of the 21st century. Remember, GM made loads of money during the 80s, despite it being arguably their worst decade in terms of brand destruction, since people were still lured by appeal of GM brands and bought GM crap cans anyway.

          The exact opposite is happening with Hyundai and Mazda. Excellent and near-excellent cars accordingly but the brands haven’t yet caught on with most people.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      Those are the classic Mercedes gauge faces, essentially unchanged (except for a subtle change from a DIN-style typeface to a Futura derivative) since the 1960s. They looked dated by this point but they had a long history.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Not really – check out MB guage clusters for sale on eBay from cars of the 90s and compare them to this. MB tried to ape the look yes, but clearly this car has a far cheaper cluster – and it looks it. Aty least they are VDO…

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    Back then, I thought this was the most beautiful car shape ever. I still like it, but as was pointed out, they weren’t reliable and depreciated like crazy. And, that shape came at the cost of a small interior.

    • 0 avatar
      Sundance

      Back then I did not like the shape at all. Times changed, now I’m driving a ’98 320 for 8 years. Very reliable, by the way. Small interior – so what, it is a coupé, not a station.

      The colour of the hood is “Quarzblau” (quartzblue?), not Brilliant Silver (which would look like silver, not blue).

  • avatar
    Kyree

    “On the 2nd day of Christmas, my baby gave to me/The keys to a C-L-K Mercedes”

    — Destiny’s Child, 8 Days of Christmas, 2001

    In all seriousness, I never liked the squashed-looking front fascia of the W210 E-Class Sedan, or its C209/A208 Coupe/Convertible CLK-Class variants, which as you point out, were C-Class based. And the CLK/E-coupe continued to be based on the C-Class until the current generation, which puts them all on the same platform, anyhow.

    But everything aft of the front wheels was generally agreeable, and the coupe did have a nice fastback silhouette, not dissimilar to the contemporary Jaguar XK.

  • avatar
    KOKing

    I know a few people who are CLK/E coupe/cab loaylists. One person in particular has stuck to em because she detests folding hardtops.

  • avatar
    Superdessucke

    This was red hot in 2000. I would love to see the original owner’s stock portfolio back then. I bet his net worth was double what it was in 1996. It was a really, really confident time. Now look at it. Look at it!

  • avatar
    rpm773

    These always bugged me. They were based on W202, but had the fascia and tail that more closely resembled the W210.

    I was 21. I didn’t know anything about watering down the product line for the sake of sales volume back then

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      This happened as well on newer generations where the CLK shared E-Class looks but C-Class underpins. Or at least all the way up to W212 E-Class which had a C-Class based E-Coupe.
      Beautiful looking car but calling a C-Class based coupe as an E-Class was an even more blatant effort to market this one as a midsized coupe (there is already a C-Class coupe riding on the same platform offered for thousands less).

  • avatar
    Mike Beranek

    You can pick up a perfectly clean, well-running one of these at Mecum for about six grand.

  • avatar
    Car Ramrod

    My mother ordered one of these new, a 430 cabriolet. If I recall correctly the 99 was V6 only, at least with the drop top. There was nothing special about the interior, even versus the 96 E320 it replaced. It didn’t even seem much faster than the 320 sedan, probably because it was heavier. In her 7 years of ownership all I remember is how often the super low profile tires blew out and how often the grill insert popped out and got lost when she hit parking lot end caps. These had a staggered setup and there was no spare.

    That hood almost looks like the designo blue one in the sunlight. I still see one of those cars around near me.

  • avatar
    SoCalMikester

    im glad hes got a contraption that might work to get mileage from some of the cars. an old power tool battery might work, or LiPO gel pack maybe? was it common for the odo alone to stay awake with 12v on certain makes?

    • 0 avatar
      eng_alvarado90

      I used an app that can scan the license plate or vin to get the last reported mileage as well as title status and # of previous owners. Last reported mileage on this one was 163K but the app won’t mention when was that reading made.

      Since the title went from Clean>>Junk , I’d say the last reported mileage is what it was specified when the title was branded to Junk

    • 0 avatar
      SaulTigh

      I’m super glad to see Murilee making that effort. The mileage is one of the best parts of his Junkyard finds. If he gets together with the guy who has the VIN tool imagine the possibilities:

      “a 7-owner 2006 VW EOS with 286,000 miles!” You can just imagine the drug deals it’s been a part of.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Before buying my used Lexus, I thought I should at least look at comparable MB models. No comparison, I have no idea why anyone bought a Benz of this era.

  • avatar
    eng_alvarado90

    According to the partial VIN I was able to find on the door jamb (the first 4-5 digits are the same across all CLKs), this CLK430’s last reported odometer reading shows 163,312 which is not too bad for a MB made in the post era of overbuilt Benzes.
    It had a total of 6 owners before hitting the salvage yard, no reported accidents, no salvage nor rebuilt title and it looked like it was a CA car its whole life.

  • avatar
    jmo

    One thing to keep in mind – this was a much much cheaper car than its predecessor. The 1995 E320 coupe would be $120k in today’s money while this one would be $80k.

    It’s not like Mercedes was dramatically cheapening their cars while trying to charge the same money. They cheapened their cars and slashed prices.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    There’s an early Matt Farah review of CLK430 manual swap, with iirc the manual transmission from the Chrysler Crossfire. Apparently the owner , who is an MB indie tech got the car with a blown auto trans and thought (correctly) the auto trans was holding back the V8.
    I’ve always liked these mid sized MB coupes, but I prefer the pillarless look of the next generation.

  • avatar
    jmo

    To give some perspective as to how expensive Mercedes used to be, in 1984 the cheapest stripper E190 started at the equivalent of $64,000.

  • avatar
    MitchConner

    Everybody who knows me knows I love buying cars — so a few would ask me to help them get the best deal from time to time.

    Right before the dot com bust, a former client who had a bunch of Nvidia stock wanted to get a convertible CLK. There weren’t any new ones around — but there was a triple black 430 AMG at Smythe European on Stevens Creek Boulevard in Santa Clara — kind of the center of the Silicon Valley automotive universe. Have to admit, it was a really nice car.

    Found the same car in Boston with 4K miles. They were asking something like $45K. Figured that’d be a good target price when we went into the dealership. Also figured if they didn’t play ball I could always get that one and have it shipped out or look around Los Angeles as that place is Benz Central with gigantic stores like Fletcher Jones.

    We get to Smythe and there’s the car. Asking price $70,000. 8K on the odometer. The sticker was something like $64,500 as it had everything. Had her drive it to see if she liked it so I could get the Boston one as that price was nuts. She did.

    Off to the sales office we go:

    Me: Why are you asking 5 grand over sticker for a used car?
    Sales Guy: Because we can get it.

    Me: We’re ready to scratch a check if the price is right.
    Sales Guy: Well, that’s the price. We’re not negotiating.

    Me: That’s great, but that’s way too much money. I can get the same car for a lot less someplace else.
    Stephanie: I WANT THE CAR! I WANT THE CAR! I’LL TAKE IT! I’LL TAKE IT!
    Me: Hamina, hamina, hamina….
    Sales Guy: Great. Let’s get the paperwork done.

    Finance Guy: OK, now let’s see here. Would you like the interior treatment package?
    Me: You’ve got to be kidding me.
    Stephanie: SURE! NOTHING BUT THE BEST FOR MY BABY!

    Finance Guy: Good choice. What about the paint protection plan?
    Me: Come on, you know that’s a complete crock of shi….
    Stephanie: I’LL TAKE IT!

    Finance Guy: Well, alrighty then. Let’s see here (followed by tick-tick-ticking of a calculator), that’ll be $88,000 and blah blah blah dollars and blah blah blah cents. Make the check out to Smythe European.
    Me: Hey, wait a second, 70 for the car plus tax and license should be around 78 grand tops. How the hell much are you charging for that other crap?
    Stephanie: SOUNDS GREAT! I’M SO EXCITED!
    Me: Steph, can we go outside and talk a minute?
    Stephanie: HERE’S YOUR CHECK (followed by the z-z-z-z-z-zip of the perforations tearing)

    I am willing to take a lie detector test because that’s exactly how that transaction went. Trust me when I tell you there’s zero point in trying to buy a car in the San Francisco Bay Area because the place is loaded with idiots like that — and the dealers know it.

    Best of all, Stephanie offered to take me to dinner to thank me for helping her out — then promptly expected me to pick up the tab when it showed up. Got all huffy when I reminded her what the point of the dinner was all about. Never spoke to her again.

    BTW, she had 20,000 shares of NVDA at one time. If she had left them alone, she’d have 80,000 shares now — worth $21.5 million. But the car took a huge chunk, taxes took another, and after flushing the rest on rent because she didn’t buy a place she’s now living in a dump in San Francisco with a beater Benz out in the street as she doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot as a blogger and YouTube influencer.

    I’m getting a rash reliving that memory.

    • 0 avatar
      ToolGuy

      Women are stupid. Thankfully there aren’t any on this site.

      • 0 avatar
        MitchConner

        That’s your take — and it’s sexist as hell. Plenty of men don’t know what they’re doing as well. No backbone, either.

        Tried to help a guy buy a Honda in the late 80s when demand was so high scumbags like Rick Hendrick were bribing Honda factory reps to get more inventory. Brother of my best friend at the time. The dealer was so bad we had to leave. Kept playing the four square game. Rejected their first offer because it listed payments instead of a price. Next offer comes back with a couple years tacked on the loan to reduce the payments with YOU WIN!!! in big green Sharpie letters. Grabbed a calculator and the cost was even higher so I said that’s it, we’re out. Salespeople were so awful one blocked our car while the other was yelling at me to come back inside through our closed windows. Flipped them off.

        The guy I was trying to help asked me to pull over so he could puke several doors away from the stress. Dropped him off and said what we needed to do next — which was calling multiple dealers to find the best starting point before heading over. So what happens? Within minutes of getting home he calls his Stepdad, heads right back to that crappy dealer — and promptly got rolled later that afternoon.

        For the record, some of the best people I’ve helped buy cars were women. Also had numerous great women clients — including the founder of a billion dollar real estate brokerage. Helen came to my rescue when my wife and I got divorced the absolute bottom of the real estate bubble in 08. If it wasn’t for her, there was a real chance my house would’ve been unloaded for $650K instead of $850K as people were just dumping their houses on the market to get away from them in a panic. Helen did an awesome job marketing our house but where she really shined was during negotiations with buyers. Solid as high carbon steel as she told several buyers to buzz off with their low ball offers.

        • 0 avatar
          28-Cars-Later

          I have the compromise: *people* are stupid.

        • 0 avatar
          SaulTigh

          Buying a car seems to be a singularly emotional choice, and I refuse to help anyone do it anymore. Hell, I refuse to allow myself to do it because I’ve made emotional decisions at the dealership in the past myself. As long as the rational side of my brain is in charge, I’ll keep driving my positively ancient fleet of well used vehicles.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            I’ll been on both the logic and emotional sides personally and professionally. Professionally it really only takes one time of getting buried and yelled at to drop the pretense of emotion – business not personal. Personally I think it depends on the intention. When I needed a DD I did my research, found it, scoffed at their number and returned four weeks later to buy at a discount. I didn’t even like it at first but it grew on me and now I look like a fiscal genius.

            Now when it was time to buy the “fun”, all emotion on the 240 and a mix of emotion and logic on the C70 (the final **** it and buy was emotional, but I did my homework first so as to not get buried). Maybe the best strategy is to use your head to get into the right model/condition in the first place which will cover you when/if you become emotional on the actual buy. I don’t think I would have looked at the C70 in the first place if it had not been in immaculate condition.

  • avatar
    msquare

    In her position she shouldn’t have even bought the Boston Benz. Want a Benz convertible? Go find a Starmark-certified pre-owned E-class.

    Maybe you should have said, “I’ll go with you to help you buy a car, but you have to let me do the talking.” Basically, she could have done that deal on her own and not wasted your time. If that sounds sexist, her lawyer would tell her the same thing. You’re providing a service.

    • 0 avatar
      MitchConner

      We had talked and I explained what we were going to do. Try to get a good price. Go elsewhere if we couldn’t. She agreed.

      That’s what happens when you have too much money that you don’t truly earn. Too easy to flush. Thing is ding a lings with their NASDAQ funny money overpay for everything from bikes to houses and screw things up for everybody else.

      • 0 avatar
        SaulTigh

        It feels like the crypto people are doing that today. I sometimes feel like a fool for dollar-cost-averaging into solid mutual funds and having a diverse portfolio of assets and you know, actually WORKING a white collar middle-management job.

      • 0 avatar
        mcs

        “That’s what happens when you have too much money that you don’t truly earn.”

        That’s definitely true. I treat money I get that way totally different than money earned by hard work. Although, my easy money is the result of quantitative trading and it was the result of ongoing development and mastery of hyperfast computer hardware and experimental AI systems. It’s also a way to pay for my R&D.

        I was tempted to take a pile of poop produced by the dog and make it an NFT. I actually know how to do it. Then use the proceeds to pay his future vet bills. Scary thing is, it might actually work. I might scan it into the Metaverse to make it even more absurd. Metaverse, the next thing you’re really going to hate.

        • 0 avatar
          MitchConner

          @mcs You have some cool hobbies, man. Read somewhere the big Wall Street firms were building big computer systems in the middle of Manhattan so they’d have the ability to execute computerized trades milliseconds ahead of their competitors and cash in. Sounds like you’re hip to that.

          Budgeting for a mad money account and having fun with it is one thing. Taking your nest egg and blowing it is another. Know some pretty good people who were worth a fortune on paper but either spent it on dumb stuff and taxes instead of using their good fortune to buy a house and set themselves up for life. Now they’re pushing sixty and renting while trying to catch up on their IRAs.

          You can get a PhD yet go through 25 years of education without learning a single thing about what’s truly important such as how to build a happy career, raise a kid, maintain a good relationship with your significant other — and how to deal with personal finances.

          • 0 avatar
            mcs

            Actually, there are a lot of smaller firms. I talk with some of them. I actually have an account with one. I don’t have the data connections they do, but my machines and AI is better. I had to get into it to pay for AI development. My work is actually directed toward medical research and this crap pays for it. It’s one of those things that I’m very much opposed to, but do it for the money. I’d not be upset if it was ended. At least for the time being, I’m directing the money towards good.

            I live around fund managers that get these huge bonuses. I know people that hire major acts to play their birthdays. One woman hired the Rolling Stones. Another hired Dave Matthews. That was just this fall. Just blowing money. That’s even worse that using $100 dollar bills for toilet paper. I know another person that uses a fairly massive helicopter that burns around $1000 per hour for fuel for transportation. He fired 8 part-time employees that were getting $1.50 per hour over minimum wage and replaced them with minimum wage. Two 20 and 15 year employees in the group that was fired. This is 1st hand info and not something I read. It’s so screwed up. I’m a believer in capitalism, but at some point they could stop being greedy.

            I’ve done well and I’m trying to go back and help medical science. For some people, it’s screw the rest of the world now that they have their money.

  • avatar

    “As so often happens with costly European luxury machinery, this one took a hard depreciation hit during its time on the road”

    Does not the same happen with Lincolns and Cadillacs? Never liked this Benc – too cheap for my tastes. I would rather prefer ovaloid Taurus – much more effective for the price and original bio-design.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    The only good thing about the CLK was the retro-look wheels on the 320, which this car wouldn’t have had. They make a beautiful upgrade for older Benzes to something that can accommodate modern tires.

  • avatar
    ToolGuy

    “Luxury coupes were falling out of favor among well-heeled American car shoppers around the turn of the century, with **luxury trucks gaining sales ground by the minute**”

    Like the Lincoln Blackwood (3,356 all-time units). Because Ford Motor Company never fails at trucks, amiright?

    Of course Lincoln would return with the Mark LT – another smash hit. Because Ford Motor Company never quits. Right?

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      “**luxury trucks gaining sales ground by the minute**”

      SUVs where *the* thing in the early 00s, and most were truck platform based or unibody but modeled after trucks (so the exact opposite of today).

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    I can’t recall if there was a non-AMG 430 but I so wanted one of these in V8 for years. Given what I know now, probably never going to happen and an R129 would be the better choice of headache.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      Additional: I read on an MB site the expected lifespan of the auto trans in this period was only 125K. Not sure if that could be extended by changing the “lifetime” fluid or not.

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