25 Years Ago, The CLK-Class Helped Mercedes-Benz Explore the Market

Back in the 1990s, Mercedes-Benz had identified emerging market trends and wanted to participate in them – especially if it was possible to do so before its competitors. Besides the compact roadster SLK-Class, the sport-utility vehicle ML-Class, and the supermini hatchback A-Class, the manufacturer presented a stylish four-seater coupé in 1997: the CLK-Class, based on a concept car shown in 1993.

mercedes benz clk
Coupé premiere in January 1997: Mercedes-Benz CLK model series (Photo credit: WheelsAge)

While the underpinnings were shared with the W202 C-Class, the front design borrowed the double headlights introduced by the W210 E-Class and the fastback was unique – it can even be considered more charming than the CL-Class’ two-door sedan design. Bruno Sacco and Peter Pfeiffer’s creation achieved an entirely new image built with several unmistakable Mercedes-Benz visual components.

Since the intention was to attract new buyers, Mercedes-Benz gave it a broad range of options: two body styles (a cabriolet was added later), three engines (with four, six, or eight cylinders), and a long list of trim options which included an AMG range-topper. As you can imagine, even the base set had an excellent equipment list: some highlights were remote boot lid opening and traction control.

The CLK’s initial generation (C208) was produced until May 2002 and reached the impressive figure of 233,367 units; that was 65% more than what its predecessor sold in nine years. The intermediate CLK 320 was the best-selling variation, with 68,778 units. In 1998, the heavily modified CLK GTR was created for racing with a mid-engine 5.9-liter V12 and had 25 units made available for personal use.

In 2002, the model reached a new generation, code named C209. It featured revolutionary style and also offered coupé and cabriolet bodies; in short, it preserved the original purpose of a comfortable counterpart to the sporty and dynamic SLK and SL roadsters while also being a smaller option than the CL coupé. In 2010, Mercedes-Benz went a different way and merged into the 207 E-Class family.

Regardless of the name or the generation, we can safely say that the CLK-Class fulfilled its purpose. It took the Mercedes-Benz image to a whole new market niche and helped the company stay up to date with the latest trends. Once again, a remarkable characteristic is having found a whole new stance while using many external design elements which were already associated with other models.

mercedes-benz clk
Mercedes-Benz CLK-Class (Photo credit: WheelsAge)

If you own a CLK-Class nowadays, you surely know that preserving its original condition is usually quite challenging. While automakers have been investing more than ever in classic-car departments to offer proper maintenance to those automobiles, they have a long way ahead until reaching all of them.

Fortunately, Mercteil can present itself as a rather convenient way to deal with that problem. Once you take a look at our website, you are going to see that we have a wide selection of all types of components for Mercedes-Benz vehicles. All of them are genuine, with no exceptions, so you can rest assured that you will obtain nothing but the highest quality. Feel free to use our filter system to see the compatible parts with your CLK version, including Mercedes-Benz wheels of all types and sizes, and make sure to reach us if you need further help!

Jasper has been an enthusiast of the automotive and IT industries since the age of 16. He independently writes on the auto industry's recent happenings.