At $3,250, Could This 2001 Mercedes Benz CL500 Put You in the Lap of Luxury on the Cheap?

Photo: Craigslist
Nice Price Or Crack PipeIs this used car a good deal? You decide!

No one stays on top forever, that is a fact. Just look at today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe CL500, a car that when new commended six figures but now asks pocket change. Let’s see if its fall from grace is deemed far enough.

The Russians may have taken over America’s government—maybe—in the attempt to sway opinion in Putin’s favor. Even though that hallowed institution may be lost, another, even more important establishment seems immune to the Ruskie’s incursions, that being our nation’s august body of automotive enthusiasts.


Yes, there are car nuts who do love them some Lada, and even a few who go ga-ga over GAZ, but in the grand scheme of things, the Soviet Block long ago hit a wall when influence on the American enthusiast market was brought to bear.

That was plainly evident in the response to yesterday’s 1991 LuAZ 969M 4X4. Cute as a button, and slower than someone trying to button a shirt while wearing mittens, that little Ukrainian utility was certainly an odd duck. In some ways it was also oddly appealing. That wasn’t enough however, to overcome an $8,990 asking price, and in the end, the little LuAZ lost in a 56 percent Crack Pipe vote.

You know, if movies like the Bourne Ultimatum and pretty much anything starring Liam Neesen have taught me anything, it’s that the one thing that the Russians themselves really like—at least those of means—is Mercedes cars. I can see why too. After all, Mercedes carries a rep for quality, luxury and status world-wide. Maybe that’s a place where we all actually can find some common ground?


Here we have a 2001 Mercedes Benz CL500, which in its era was the brand’s range-topping offering. The W215 CL was based on the W220 S-Class but with slightly more compact dimensions and two fewer, but much longer doors.

The bodywork carried the then-popular retro round headlight trope and a greenhouse that offered substantial glass and a graceful arch. Large triangular tail lamps bracketed a boot lid topped with a subtle spoiler at its edge. Overall, the W215 was one of Mercedes best designs of the ‘90s, and one that still looks pretty good today.


This one, in Brilliant Silver Metallic over an Ash interior looks… er, almost pretty good. The bodywork is okay in the front, but not so much in back. On either side in back resides a sizable crease. The one on the left side sits just above the bumper, while the right side damage runs from just behind the door almost to the wheel arch.


Other aesthetic besmirchments include a miss-fitting boot lid, headlamps, that look to be turning yellow like an old man’s beard, and a missing tow hook cover on the back bumper. I’m not even going to mention the wheels.


There are a few issues inside as well. with leather that’s wearing through on the driver’s off-side bolster, and that is unappealingly dirty on the back buckets. Seriously, it looks like someone was carrying used toner cartridges back there. Other interior elements look to have held up better, and as this was Mercedes’ top ride there’s pretty much every convenience known to 2001 man in there.


Powering the big coupe is Mercedes M113 five-litre V8. That SOHC, aluminum block mill featured three valves per cylinder and made a respectable 302 horsepower and 340 lb-ft of torque as a result. Behind that sits a five-speed automatic operated through the expected Mercedes gate.


Both the engine and transmission are said to be solid and to run great. Also, amazingly all the other bits are said to work without issue. Considering the car’s complexity, age, and substantial 203,000 miles, that seems pretty impressive. The title is clear and the car is claimed to have just passed its bi-annual California emissions test.

Despite those glowing accolades, the seller still labels his car as ‘Fair” in the ad. That likely has a lot to do with the interior and bodywork issues, as long as he’s not being coy about the mechanicals. Regardless, it’s not the best of the breed and hence it comes with a mutt-like $3,250 price tag.


Now, I think we can all agree that on principle, that represents a lot of car for the money. The question for you is, should anyone spend that meager amount for so ostentatious, and hence potentially demanding a car?

You decide!


San Francisco Bay Area, CA Craigslist, or go here if the ad disappears.

H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!

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About the author

Rob Emslie

Rob Emslie is a contributing writer for Jalopnik. He has too many cars, and not enough time to work on them all.