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Mercedes-Benz SLK

Mercedes-Benz SLK Published: 11th Aug 2017 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Mercedes-Benz SLK
Mercedes-Benz SLK
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Super value - Good choice of cars around - Expensive repairs - Mostly automatics

A ‘Baby SL’ that is based upon the C Class saloon offering sports car looks and image but saloon level running costs. The SLK has been around for almost 20 years catering for an increasing number of enthusiasts, who are after modern collectibles thanks to their better appointments, conveniences, resistance to rust and 24/7 usability.

An SLK gives you all this and for the price of a half respectable MGB! Plenty are around but many haven’t aged well and cheap buys usually aren’t the bargains they appear to be. Sheer numbers make the SLK debatable as a ‘real’ classic and instead a good classical daily driver although M-B owners’ club now hosts a dedicated SLK day event – so who knows?


SLK drives pretty much like a C Class saloon that it’s based upon although the shorter wheelbase gives it a more agile feel. The foot operated handbrake means that manual transmissions are awkward to cope with; most are autos anyway and it’s a good responsive unit. Real performance only begins with the 193bhp 230K variant, although the base 200K is fine if you’re not looking for sports car pace. Original SLKs were criticised for their rather meek and mild nature and it’s true that they are better at cruising and posing than cross country fun, although there’s little wrong with their handling. That novel metal roof is brilliant and provides all year round open top motoring at the touch of a button.

Best models

If you can, opt for the V6 because the ‘fours’ can feel coarse when revved hard although they are easier on the fuel. Manuals are a matter of taste, as are the special editions, such as the AMG 3.2 flagship where its special Twin sparkplug engine delivers 349bhp fed via a special gearbox; only 263 official RHD UK cars were offered.

Others that may fire up values are the 2002 Limited Editions sitting pretty on 7.5x17inch sports alloys. Black nappa leather interior highlighted by brushed alloy trim detailing are other enticers.

Two years later, the Special Edition, launched to mop up models, comes with 16inch wheels, grey or red nappa trim and the previous brushed aluminium detailing. The replacement R171 is a nicer car with more rounded looks but there’s something ‘very SL’ about the original SLK.


You can buy a shabby SLK for around a grand although it’s wiser to up the ante and spend at least £2000 for a car that’s remotely half decent. Apart from AMGs, engine sizes don’t affect values greatly so pay £6000 for a good last-ofthe- line R170 or say £7500 upwards for an AMG, best on sale at an M-B specialist. R171s start from £6000 on the forecourts, maybe £4200 at general auctions. There’s plenty around so you can be choosy – and so you should be!

Buying advice

The SLK was produced at a time when Mercedes legendary build quality was slipping and, along with C and E Class ranges, can display serious signs of rusting – some which may lead to an MoT failure and expensive repairs. Wheelarches, sills and boot lids are mostly more cosmetic however. The four-cylinder engines are robust but can become clattery and weep oil via the head gasket. Check their superchargers are not worn and the cats haven’t started to rattle and fall apart.

The electronic autoboxes aren’t as robust as earlier Mercedes units; usually it’s the electronics which play up. It goes without saying that you need to check the roof for its action as certain repairs can sometimes exceed a car’s real world worth.


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