For more than 20 years, the folks in Stuttgart built sporty roadsters based on the C-Class chassis, finally killing off the SLC during the 2020 model year. The first of those cars to arrive on our shores was the SLK 230, which debuted here as a 1998 model. Its retractable hardtop established a trend for convertibles that only recently has ended as their complexity and weight (not to mention long-term maintenance) weren’t worth whatever benefits they possessed over increasingly improved cloth roofs. Nearly a quarter-century later, here’s one of those ’98s, photographed in a San Francisco Bay Area self-service yard.
For 2001, the SLK 320 and its V6 engine became available here, but the U.S.-market SLKs for 1998-2000 were all 230s.
This 2.3-liter supercharged inline-four made 190 horsepower, which is about what the six-cylinder BMW Z3 produced. You could get this car with a manual transmission, but this one (like nearly all U.S.-market SLKs) has the automatic.
These engines are easier to find now than when I wrote the definitive guide to cheap junkyard superchargers, so I’ll need to pull one and learn its secrets.
These red-and-black leather seats are pretty snazzy.
Later on, DaimlerChrysler used this car as the basis for the Chrysler Crossfire, which was available for the 2004-2008 model years (after the SLK had gone to a new platform).