The DTM Road Racer
A title celebration becomes a plaything for the rich and famous
THE MEANING OF ‘CLK’ gives a clue to why Mercedes’ ultimate AMG fettled version made a standout driver’s machine in the mid noughties. The German Coupé Leicht Kompakt translates to coupe, lightweight short – as in wheelbase. With a blown 428kW, you needed to be sharp to handle the CLK DTM AMG, which made it the runabout of choice for many F1 stars of the era. However, there is more to the CLK DTM AMG’s would-be legend status. With just 100 built in coupe form and only 40 of these in right hook – all for Europe and with purchase by invitation – it’s a rare and desirable beast. The hottest of the CLKs, perched above the Black Series, was conceived to celebrate the brand’s third victory in the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters and AMG didn’t hold back in giving the CLK DTM an attitude that reflected its namesake. This was evident even standing still, the CLK form being treated to flared arches, a large single-plane rear wing, diffuser and larger front intakes. The track focus spilled into the cabin with a suede wheel, shift paddles for the Speedshift 5G-tronic automatic, carbon-fibre fixed back front seats. The 322km/h top speed signposts the relentless performance. This was where the bent eight banged the speed limiter, rather than the point it ran out of steam. Plucked from a glorious AMG era in which the blower was the forced induction means of choice, the DTM’s 428kW and 800Nm 5.4-litre V8 is bigger and torquier than a current AMG GT R’s, and only 2kW shy. Only two tenths slower than a 2018 GT R too, at 3.8sec from 0-100km/h, which says more about the entertainment value inherent in deploying the grunt in this crazy, potent, mechanical LSD-equipped SWB rear-drive coupe than it does any shortage of urgency. Age has not wearied this motorsport-inspired Merc icon, it’s only made it lesser known and all the more desirable.