Front-engine and rear-wheel drive in a two-door body shell is the tried and tested recipe for a sports coupe. Despite the motoring landscape having changed considerably in recent times, quite a few automakers still offer these cars; the Ford Mustang, Lexus RC F, Nissan 400Z and BMW M4 all fulfil the criteria in their own way.
Then there’s the Mercedes-Benz CLK 63 AMG Black Series, which when released took the sports coupe to a new level.
While not the first of the Black Series – that accolade goes to the SLK 55 AMG – the CLK 63 AMG Black Series was the first to feature the 6.2-litre naturally aspirated V8, which was bespoke to the AMG lineup and introduced in the regular CLK 63 AMG. The ’63’ badge is a bit of a misnomer given the 6,208cc engine capacity, but German car tax is based on capacity in 100cc stages, meaning the model sits in the 6,300cc bracket.
Bernd Ramler, the AMG engineer that oversaw Mercedes’ race engine program in the 1990s returned after a tenure at Porsche (during which he designed the V10 in the Carrera GT) to design the thunderous V8 engine which has since been used in numerous other AMG products.
Known internally as the M156 variant, the engine was not as frenetic as others in Bernd’s resume, but it still made 507 horsepower and 567lb-ft of torque with a 7,200rpm redline.
While aimed squarely at the Porsche 911 GT3 of the time as a track-biased high performance variant, Mercedes went about the CLK 63 AMG Black Series in their own way. The interior was typical of the range, and despite concessions to weight having been made, the Black Edition actually weighs more than the regular CLK 63. Fixed bucket seats replace the heavy electric front seats, while the rear seat has been removed entirely.
Externally, the car wears forged 19-inch wheels at all corners, with the pumped-up arches measuring a fairly substantial 75mm wider at the front and 66mm at the rear. Ample stopping power is provided by AMG-branded 6-pot callipers front and 4-pots at the rear.
The other exterior changes are slightly more subtle, with carbon fibre vents and a deeper lip on the front bumper. Fender vents help remove pressurised air from the front arches, and deep side skirts follow the coupe’s widened lines. Out back, a subtle carbon fibre lip sits atop the boot lid, and a carbon fibre diffuser frames the four exhaust tips. What you can’t see is the differential cooler, hidden behind the slotted rear grill.
AMG also ensured suspension settings were infinitely configurable; the control arms, ride height, and damper compression and rebound are all adjustable.
Built in a time before countless electronic settings ruled every aspect high performance cars, it’s just the gearbox that has multiple modes (Comfort, Sport or Manual) to dictate either the speed or the control over shifts. Otherwise it’s simply on or off for the ESP. There’s no side-slip control, active exhaust or variable aero which seem commonplace nowadays.
While the CLK 63 AMG Black Series may not have lived up to the standards of the 911 GT3, it was still met with positive reviews.
This being one of the 25 cars allocated to the UK – of just 700 produced in total – makes it far more rare than the GT3, too. While I’d imagine most of the remaining UK-delivered cars are sat in heated garages as part of larger car collections, to me the only thing better than owning a rare car is using it as much as possible. So to see this one out at Pistonheads’ December Sunday Service at Thruxton Circuit covered in road grime definitely put a smile on my face.