Mercedes C320 Sport Coupe | Shed of the Week

Remember the 215hp, six-cylinder German hatch that wasn't a BMW? Here's one for less than £1k

By Tony Middlehurst / Friday, September 3, 2021 / Loading comments

There can’t be many on here who haven’t lusted after a C63 Mercedes at some point in their lives. It’s the street sleeper, ‘talk softly but carry a big stick’ syndrome that is appealing.

So appealing in fact that Shed has often wondered why more cars like the C63 weren’t built in those golden motoring days when nobody was all that bothered about the state of the planet and individual marques were being gathered up by huge conglomerates, making huge engines available to firms that previously had none. Who wouldn’t have been up for a Fiesta with an Aston V8 in it, or a Ferrari V12-powered Panda? Nobody.

Of course, the dark side of big power is that you can’t get away from big running costs. Or maybe you can in something like this week’s Shed, a Mercedes C320 Sport Coupe with more than half the badge number of the C63 but going for a much smaller fraction of a C63’s price.

Most of the W203 compact Mercs used engines from the previous W202, but the petrol C320 was given its own 18-valve 3.2 litre V6 developing 215hp and 229lb ft, making it good for a 7.7sec 0-62 time and a top whack of 154mph. The combined fuel consumption wasn’t so great at under 22mpg, and doubtless some killjoy will be along in the forum to point out the size of the road tax bill, but these matters are of no import to Shed as neither he nor most of the people in his village pay road tax. Nor do they concern themselves with MOT tests for the simple reason that Shed has told them that they’ll be all right on both counts as long as they never drive outside the village.

He tells them that as long as they keep their mileages to within 50 or so of the number mentioned on the last MOT they possess, and that they all keep their vehicles in Shed’s covered storage at the very reasonable rate of £6 a week, nothing can possibly happen to the car to merit another test one year, two years or indeed ten years later. It’s a win-win situation for everyone. The villagers save money on fuel, and when they get too old to drive Shed is assured of a good stream of very low mileage, easily-MOTed cars which he can buy short in the village and sell long outside it.

On that subject, Shed isn’t sure what Mercedes’ (and other manufacturers’) headlamp suppliers made their lenses out of in the first part of this century, but whatever it is it seems to be a magnet for the ‘product’ that regularly appears on MOT advisory notes. It’s not present on this car’s ticket, which runs to January and which has no mention of rust or any other major worries, but looking at the pics Shed feels that the ‘product’ will be along shortly. He has been confronted by this mystery substance on many occasions. It’s been a useful tool for lowballing the villagers on price, but in order to make a killing on the resale he then has to get the gunk off. As you’d expect, he’s been through all the folksy remedies you see online, most of which involve toothpaste, plus some others that you don’t see, like the underpant-twirling remedy that his druid mate Conan prescribes for pretty much everything that goes wrong in life. The eventual answer did involve underpants in an odd sort of way, but that’s as much as Shed will be giving away here until such time he has exhausted all the potential money-making schemes that are whizzing around in what passes for his brain.

Going back to this particular car, how far off a C63 is a 3.2 CL203 coupe? Obviously the answer to that is ‘a long way’, but then again £989 is a long way off the cheapest C63 in PH classifieds right now (seventeen grand off, to be precise), and 3.2-engined coupes are pretty rare, so it does have something going for it.

But what might go wrong with it? Generic C-Class problems from this era include rattly cabins, snapped timing chains, wonky electrics and quite a bit more. Most of the electrical issues can be put right fairly cheaply as they’re often sensor related, but something like a busted heater motor will hurt you. There were recalls to sort out broken exhausts and steering couplings, faulty bonnet latches and rusty airbag electrics. This period in Mercedes history wasn’t its finest hour.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect of this car however is the appearance of ‘Westside’ on the head unit, but you should be able to change that.

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