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Mercedes SLK (1996-2004) Buying Guide

Mercedes SLK (1996-2004)
Mercedes SLK (1996-2004)Mercedes SLK (1996-2004)Mercedes SLK (1996-2004)Mercedes SLK (1996-2004)Mercedes SLK (1996-2004)Mercedes SLK (1996-2004)Mercedes SLK (1996-2004)Mercedes SLK (1996-2004)Pictures shown may not represent exact model specified

by Richard Dredge

Everyone assumes Mercedes invented the folding hard top with the SLK, but the company was around 60 years behind Peugeot and 40 years behind Ford. What it did do was create a usable and dependable two-seater sportscar that combined the security of a hard top with the fun of a soft-top. The cars have never been cheap, but they've never been better value; just don't be taken in by sellers who think the cars are more valuable than they are.

We LikeWe Don't Like
Roof mechanism
No engine choice for early cars
High prices
Vague steering
Some cars poorly equipped
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Key Dates 
11/96SLK arrives in 230 K form only
2/00SLK200 K and SLK320 join the range
8/01SLK32 AMG arrives, with 354bhp V8
6/02Limited Edition offered, with 7.5x17 alloys, black nappa leather and brushed aluminium interior trim
1/04Special Edition offered, with 16" alloys, grey or red nappa leather and brushed alloy interior detailing
7/04New SLK arrives
  • Make sure you can live with the offset driving position
  • Roof mechanism is complex, so check all is well. It's generally reliable but the various sensors can play up on cars that haven't had regular use
  • Six-speed manual gearbox can fail, but it's highly unusual
  • Fog lamps can mist up and corrode internally
  • Catalytic converters can fail; they're fiendishly costly to replace
  • Mass airflow sensor fails, leading to erratic auto gearbox behaviour and rough running
  • Voltage regulator on alternator can fail
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