Is a second-hand Mercedes-Benz CL the best big coupe money can buy?

Is a second-hand Mercedes-Benz CL the best big coupe money can buy?

There’s never been a better time to consider a luxurious German coupé as a used purchase, although like all second-hand bargains there’s an element of risk involved

Is there any better plus-sized luxury saloon than the Mercedes-Benz S-class? Of course not. The thing is, though, there can often be a superfluous number of doors.

Thank goodness then for the Mercedes-Benz CL-class, which you can enjoy driving without being mistaken for a private hire chauffeur.

Not that there is anything wrong with that, or the CL. I notice the S500 designation has come back and the big-engined continent-crushing coupé has never been better value or arguably, a riskier buy.

About £2000 gets you into a later 1990s example, or even an early 2000s car at a push. You might feel safer spending £3000, except you probably won’t be whether you bag a CL420 or CL500. As ever there is the usual ragbag collection of Category D insurance write offs and those with marginal, fast-fit centre histories.

You can take a risk and you might get a year out of it without that much drama. Fuel bills will be big and if there is any work required to the suspension, electronics or some bodywork to be finessed, then you will need a mortgage.

It is always worth reminding bargain-hunting used car buyers that the original purchase price is always the best indication of future running costs.

For example, a 1999 Mercedes-Benz 600CL cost £108k. Even with that sobering six-figure sum in mind, I was still tempted by a CL that looked like a part exchange at a home counties car dealer with 115k miles and what seemed to be a full Mercedes history at £3450.

My default safety budget of £5000 throws up one-owner 2004 examples, but also some that have scary air suspension issues.

Then all of a sudden some very tempting AMG-related CL55 versions hove into view along with rather more CL600s than I bargained for. At this point you can also make a choice between a properly built W140 version built from 1992 to 1999, or the later four-eyed W215s that pop up everywhere.

£6000 brings up those lovely old W140s with proper histories and few owners; perfect for traditionalists who can also justify buying an oldster because the road tax is a tad cheaper.

Modernists, though, can pay the thick end of £9999 and get themselves a 2003 CL55, which has a full service history and is being sold by a dealer with some semblance of warranty.

At the right price and spec and with proper credentials is this the best big coupé money can buy? Or should I be looking elsewhere?

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