While the top on today’s Nice Price or Crack Pipe SLK320 may be fully automatic, its five-speed transmission is still gloriously manual. We’ll just hove to figure out what such dichotomy is due.
The 1994 Ford Taurus wagon we looked at yesterday had been modded with a number of hot-shoe SHO parts, not least of which was that model’s 220 horsepower, Yamaha-designed three-litre V6. Compared to the most recent SHO Taurus, which boosted engine displacement by 500ccs and added turbos for a 365 horse output that may seem a pittance, but that last SHO also wasn’t a wagon so those numbers are kind of meaningless, right?
Our Taurus was both SHO-imbued and a handy longroof bodystyle—with third-row seat no less. Add to that a $2,000 asking and not even the need for a clutch replacement could keep you from leaning the funky Ford’s way, earning the car a solid 81 percent Nice Price win.
People generally love things that do more than one thing. Hell, Food Network icon Alton Brown has railed for years over his singular love of “multitasker” tools. Whether it be dual-purpose motorcycles or the innovative and singularly life-changing “spork,” we all seem to like getting the most out of our stuff.
That extends to our cars. That being the case, while convertibles are great for their “hey, look at me, I’m driving top down in a snow storm so I must be Canadian” capabilities, few enjoy the noise and security issues that generally accompany the soft top style.
That’s led to both carmakers and the aftermarket offering removable hard-tops for convertibles. Those make the car more of a multitasker but then raises the question of what’s to be done with that hardtop when it’s not in use. They take up a lot of room around the house and if you want to pop your top off while you’re away from home, you’re all kinds of SOL.
To alleviate this conundrum, several carmakers have come up with hardtop convertibles that eschew the whole soft top aspect entirely. Instead, these offer a retractable roof in metal and glass that folds, origami-style, into the trunk compartment. This solves the issue of what’s to be done with the top but creates its own issues in complexity, weight, and available boot space.
This 1999 Mercedes Benz SLK230 looks to be a fine example of this breed. The SLK was Mercedes’ first attempt at a modern retractable hardtop, a design feature that would expand to the larger SL in short order. Dubbed the “Vario Roof” the folding architecture capped a shortened W202 (C-class) platform, offering seating for two and junior SL styling.
Power comes from a supercharged (Kompressor) M111 in-line four sitting in traditional north-south position behind the iconic Three-Pointed Star. That offers up 185 horsepower and 200 lb-ft of torque. Behind that is a five-speed Getrag manual which is about as rare in these cars as are teeth in non-teeth-stealing chickens.
The seller says that they have owned the 116,000-mile SLK since 2014 and in that time have undertaken a number of maintenance items and mechanical repairs. Perhaps more importantly, they’ve also had all of the top hydraulic pistons replaced and claim that it now goes up and down “flawlessly.”
The bodywork, in Brilliant Silver Metallic, looks serviceable, albeit with a few stone chips and minor scrapes noticeable. There also appears to be multiple license plate frame holes drilled in the front bumper cap and some clear coat fade on the back one.
The car apparently has a Sport package and that sees it fitted with AMG wheels. Those look pretty nice on the car and don’t seem to have suffered any noticeable curbing.
The interior is a lurid mix of black and red making it the perfect ride for Darth Maul but perhaps a little much for some of the rest of us. Overall it looks to be in decent shape, although there is some noticeable paint flake on the center console and a sense in general that it could stand a date with a detailer.
The title is clean and the seller claims the car to be mechanically solid, right down to the A/C blowing cold. The seller also remarks that while you could find SLKs of this era for $4k, this one is worth more due to the manual gearbox and the rebuilt top mechanics. As such they are offering it at $5,800. That’s quite a premium, but then this does seem to be a nice example of SLK and there’s that whole multitasker bit to consider.
And consider it you must, as it’s now time for you to weigh in on this SLK’s fate. What do you think, is it worth that $5,800 asking as it sits? Or, is this a hardtop convertible that you’d be hard-pressed to pay so much for?
H/T to RevUnlimiter for the hookup!
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