2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG: Buying It
December 18, 2013
Before we stumbled headlong into our gorgeous, museum-quality 1987 Buick Grand National, we were shopping for a Mercedes-Benz CL65. The "Why?" should be obvious. These things make 604 horsepower from a twin-turbo V12, cost over $180,000 when new and have depreciated more than Michael Jordan's house.
The trouble wasn't deciding upon a CL65, the trouble was finding one.
The number of Mercedes-Benz CL65s sold in 2005 isn't exactly clear, but it's between 180 and just fewer than 500. So, not very many. And between them selling new (for about the price of a small house in a flyover state) and today, surely some have left us in unpleasant ways. So, even fewer.
But the good news is we live in Southern California which is, along with Texas and Miami, one of the few places where these things actually sold. Still, our search didn't yield many results.
There was one for $60,000 with about 70,000 miles and funny rims. Likely the original owner trying to recoup something. We didn't even bother to call. Then there was one we'd actually looked at before we got the Grand National. We didn't like that one then, and we didn't like it now with its new owner.
Eventually, we whittled it down to two. One very local and one in Reno, Nevada. The Boss told us we had to drive the car and see it in person before making an offer, so we went to check out the local one.
It was nice. Clean, low miles, ran strong. Definitely a contender, but the asking price was more than a few grand more than the one that was taunting us from Reno.
We ran the Carfax and everything came up clean and then got the OK to try and make this one happen. It was, thankfully, at Mercedes-Benz of Reno and not at some no-name shop. They'd already done a service on the vehicle, a full inspection and installed a brand-new set of (all-season) tires. From a distance, everything checked out. They'd also had the car for a couple of months and with the New Year approaching, we thought they'd be willing to talk.
When we first saw the car it was a little out of our preferred price range but had recently dropped to $35,900 and just before we called, to $34,900. Clearly they were ready to let this one go. Riswick took the lead on this one and made the call from a bench at LAX. I was still trying to haggle with the owner of the closer car. Not only did we want to try to get a better deal, but the listing left some things to be desired. We wanted to see the carpets (they were light grey, which we hated and know get ugly/dirty real fast) and the nav screen which is prone to fading. Our salesman cleared the snow off the ground, got us our shots and we began the negotiation process.
At $34,900, they didn't have much wiggle room left over the wholesale price, but we got it down to $34,000 even and called it good. They wouldn't even throw in a free set of summer rubber. I tried.
We had them fax over the paperwork with the caveat that, when we got there, we could back out if the car wasn't perfect.
A day or so later, we had the paperwork signed and a check for $34,000 in hand. Takahashi and I hopped into the Dodge Dart and headed to Reno.
The drive up was easy as pie even if it was 6 degrees over the mountains. We got into Reno sometime around noon and our salesman had already cleared that time on his calendar. We waited all of 30 seconds. A few minutes later, we were on the test drive. Everything was exactly as described and the car was tight as a drum. Easily the best one we'd seen in all the time we'd been looking.
Paperwork is paperwork, but the guys at MB of Reno explained every step, even the ones we knew, which always makes sitting in a cramped sales office more tolerable. A fancy Starbucks coffee maker and darned solid donuts made it pleasant.
Less than an hour later we were out the door, on the road and headed home with a new almost supercar. Snow was in the forecast, and even with these all-season tires, we had to be past Lee Vinnings by 4:00. We had faith the V12 could do it.
Mike Magrath, Features Editor @ 56,413 miles