The front engine and rear-wheel drive in a two-door body is the proven recipe for the sports coupe. Even though the automotive environment has changed significantly in recent times, quite a few car manufacturers still offer these cars; the Ford Mustang, Lexus RC F, Nissan 400Z and BMW M4 all fit the criteria in their own way.
Then there is the Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series, which took the sports coupe to a new level with its appearance.
While not the first Black Series – that accolade goes to the SLK 55 AMG – the CLK 63 AMG Black Series was the first to feature the naturally aspirated 6.2-litre V8, which was tailored to the AMG range and introduced to the into normal CLK. 63 AMG. The 63 badge is a bit of a misnomer given the engine’s displacement of 6,208cc, but German vehicle tax is based on 100cc increments, meaning the model falls into the 6,300cc band.
AMG engineer Bernd Ramler, who oversaw Mercedes’ racing engine program in the 1990s, returned after a stint at Porsche (during which he designed the V10 in the Carrera GT) to design the lightning-fast V8 engine that has since been used in many other AMG products. .
Known internally as the M156 variant, the engine wasn’t as frenetic as others on Bernd’s resume, but it still produced 507 horsepower and 567 pound-feet of torque at 7,200 rpm.
While at the time Porsche was specifically targeting the 911 GT3 as a high-performance tracked version, Mercedes went with the CLK 63 AMG Black Series in its own way. The interior was typical of the series, and despite the weight concessions, the Black Edition actually weighs more than the regular CLK 63. The heavy electric front seats were replaced by fixed bucket seats, while the rear seat was removed entirely.
Externally, the car wears 19-inch forged wheels at every turn, with pumped-up arches that are 75mm wider at the front and 66mm at the rear. Ample stopping power is provided by AMG-branded 6-speed calipers at the front and 4-speed calipers at the rear.
Other exterior changes are slightly more subtle, with carbon fiber air vents and a deeper lip on the front bumper. Fender vents help remove pressurized air from the front curves, and deep side skirts follow the coupe’s flared lines. Out back, a subtle carbon fiber lip sits atop the trunk lid, and a carbon fiber diffuser frames the quad exhaust tips. What you can’t see is the differential cooler hidden behind the slotted rear grille.
AMG has also ensured that the suspension settings are infinitely configurable; the control arms, ride height, and shock compression and rebound are all adjustable.
Built before myriad electronic settings dominated performance cars, only the transmission has multiple modes (comfort, sport or manual) to control speed or shift control. Otherwise, ESP is simply on or off. There is no sideslip control, active exhaust or variable aero, which seems commonplace these days.
Although the CLK 63 AMG Black Series probably didn’t live up to the standards of the 911 GT3, it still received positive reviews.
As one of only 25 cars allocated to the UK – just 700 were produced in total – it is much rarer than the GT3. Although I would imagine that the majority of cars delivered in the UK sit in heated garages as part of larger car collections, for me the only thing better than owning a rare car is using it as much as possible. So to see this at the Pistonheads’ December Sunday service at Thruxton Circuit covered in the dirt of the road it definitely put a smile on my face.