Sunday, November 3, 2013

Mercedes-Benz SLK R170 (late-mid-life-crisis edition)

So, if you've read any of the other motoring related posts in this blog, you may know that I've had some pretty uninspiring cars in recent times.

It has not always been so, in fact for many years I had something 'interesting'... if not exactly good. But in recent times I have had a series of dull cars, and in fact the last two have been diesels. Ouch.

Last year I started to get very itchy feet about this, and started looking around for a nice ride.
I started my quest  by looking at the obvious choices, MG TFs and MX-5s. But neither inspired me, though especially the Mazda would be a sensible choice. Boxters were too much, and I was struggling. Then a local garage had a Chrysler Crossfire. I quite liked the look of it, but they got such bad reviews. Further reading on them revealed they were based on the Mercedes Benz SLK, which did not get bad reviews. Aha.

I started looking at these cars, and discovered there were loads of them. They varied in price of course, but the cheap ones were pretty cheap. I'd never really noticed them before, but the more I looked, the more I liked. The obvious appeal of the electric roof. They are handsome beasts. They are German built. Hmmmm.

Well, after much looking, I spotted a nice looking one locally, but before going to view it I rang a friend who I knew had had an SLK in the past, to ask what to look for. Turns out he still had his Merc, but it was SORNed. "Come and have a look at it..." I did. Next thing I knew it was in my drive. Love at first sight.

Guilty as charged then, of not looking into the fine print of the car before purchase, not having it professionally checked out, not even looking at it particularly carefully, and certainly not of having thought it through. But what the heck, it was only £2k. I say only... that's quite a lot to me, but it's not a lot for all the stuff I got.

It's a M-B SLK Kompressor 230, 1997 pre face lift R170 model, i.e. the original first 'pure' SLK before they started fiddling with them. Some say destined to be termed a 'classic' in a year or two. 195BHP, 0-60 in 7.5 seconds, top speed over 140mph. 5 speed auto with a supercharger. And a 'Vario' electric roof.

So far, so good. Nothing much to report. Everything works. It's a blast to drive with the roof down, really lovely. I haven't dared fully exploit its performance yet, but you can tell it's all there, under your right foot.

I will write more of my experiences with the car in time. One thing I have learned from hanging around the SLK World forums, is that the car is a complex thing, and I'm pretty lucky that nothing has gone wrong. Yet!

Update - read what has happened over the first two years of ownership, click here.

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