Last November, Glass of the Guide, said the C215 version of the Mercedes-Benz CL500, which ran from 2000 to 2007, their used car hero of the month.
“The CL is a top of the range grand tourer that is very well specified, and an elegant and comfortable for travel,” said Robert Redman, in the Glass Guide. “This is a Mercedes-Benz built in the ‘old way’. If maintained properly, will last for many years more, and probably getting to be a good investment.”
In fact, the CL can be used car hero of the decade, not just the month. As the guide pointed out, good are available for around £7000 – or a tenth of what it costs new. In fact, prices start at around £2500.
That is the money that a dealer is asking for its 2001/X-reg CL500 with a heroic 160,000 miles and full service history. Unfortunately, he describes the suspension as “Airmatic”, which is not. In doing so, he has unwittingly called attention to the CL of the Achilles heel and the main reason why it is so spectacular value: its Active Body Control suspension.
Basically, a pump sends the oil around the car four interconnected shock absorbers, varying the pressures in each one to maintain a stable ride and improve body control in the corners. At high speeds, it lowers the car up to 25mm. It is a brilliant, but unreliable piece of kit, and it costs a fortune to put right.
An acquaintance who owns a CL55 AMG (and love to bits) told me he has spent £16,000 on it in the last six years, in large part on the suspension, the rest in the service and tires.
His dedication to the four wheels of a money pit in your driveway that talks about the more positive aspects of the large CL. Even the standard CL500 bristles with technical innovations, including the above-mentioned trick of the suspension, and that was only the second car (the first being the S-Class) that have Mercedes, distronic radar-assisted autonomous cruise control.
Naturally, as a flagship model, was loaded with the kit, everything from powered doors and trunk lid, electric leather seats and four-zone air-conditioning to parking sensors. The options include a TV and a voice-activated phone. Much of the information and entertainment kit is prehistoric by today’s standards, but it’s all part of the engine once the cutting-edge of attraction.
The CL500 was powered by a 306bhp 5.0-litre V8 and was accompanied by the most sports 5.4-liter CL55, serving 360bhp, and a 5.8-liter CL600 V12 with 367bhp. The CL55 needs of care of the purchase, because in 2002 he won a supercharger (Kompressor) and an extra 140bhp, taking it to 500bhp. Of the two, is without a doubt the to go.
Small beer? Keep your eyes open for the bi-turbo 5.5-liter CL600 with 500bhp and the 6.0-liter CL65 AMG with 603bhp. You’ll have to search long, because the CL500 dominates the classifieds, and with good reason: it is the least complicated and most friendly on the pocket and yet packs a punch.
An expert’s view…
LEE PARK, AUTOELITE HULL
“I would like to buy a CL, but the V8, not the V12. Both are reliable, but the V8 is a little cheaper, and less concerned about the occasional oil leaks that can spoil the V12. Problems with the suspension has been taken out of proportion, but should not be complacent. Get the car on a ramp, and with independence of the inspection. We are talking of thousands of new carriers, pipelines and pump valves — and that’s before you pay for your work.”
The first versions of the V8 and V12 suffered water in the fuel caused by the fuel in the tank from condensation. In V12, check the oil weep on the front timing cover caused by a blockage of the crankcase oil vent; also for oil leaks from the rubber seal around the oil cooler between the cylinder banks. Change oil and filter every 10k miles.
V8 dual spark heads, with one coil pack per pair. The coils are reliable and not too expensive. The V12 has a set of six coils for each bank, each set costing £1000. They tend to fail when the plugs are changed.
It is difficult to. In all models, the transmission can switch to limp-home mode and the third speed not to participate. It is a case of change-work.
Verify that the warning lights. (White: something’s up. Red: run away.) A defective system will default to the hard disk, and sports settings. Struts leak, and each one costs around 700 pounds. Pump control valves (there are two, each one costs £1000) can fail, too. Check the strut top links of slack.
Check for water in the passenger footrest caused by a blockage in the scuttle drain. Much of the wiring is connected here and the damp is going to make havoc.
Aluminum-steel body can rust in the rear wheel arches, at the bottom of the doors and the rear of the screen.
It is robust, but check the warning lights relating to the security features.
Also worth knowing…
The fear of the unknown is the greatest obstacle to the CL of the property, but an official Mercedes used car warranty (go to mercedes-benzwarranty. co.uk) can help. There are two levels of coverage. We were quoted £1431 by a global Tier 1 deck in 2006 CL500 with 57k miles.
How much to spend?
Launch of 2004 CL500s with 90k to 200k km and a full or partial service stories. Any owner of the cars, also.
Lower mileage (around 60 to 80 thousand) in the early and mid-life CL500s in excellent condition.
In the early and mid-life CL55 Wagggs and CL600s, but low mileage CL500s and the end of the plate, the average performance of CL500s.
The best CL500s, CL55 Kompressors and CL600s.
Extremely rare CL63 and CL65 Wagggs.