The second in a new, alphabetical series of short driving impressions of some of the museum’s car collection, but this month we have had to cheat a little…


February’s featured car was supposed to begin with B but when the museum was obliged to carry out some noise tests on the L’Ormarins Estate – FMM takes great steps to comply with legislation in this regard – the planned car had to be dropped in favour of something else. As a result, in helping out with driving a group of cars for the test I was allocated the Mercedes-Benz CLK DTM, which technically begins with M – but its origins do go back to Benz, so please forgive the literary licence…


Purposeful goes some way to describe the DTM’s looks but does not fully encapsulate what the car represents, namely a road-going version of ’Benz’s C-Class Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (DTM) competitor that took part in the 2003 championship season, winning nine out of 10 races. Produced for the 2004 model year, the initial release of the vehicle was limited to special order or invitation of ownership and FMM’s car is one of these. Only 100 CLK DTMs were manufactured although in 2006 80 convertible versions were produced.


The DTM rules called for a normally aspirated 4,0-litre V8 limited to 500 hp (373 kW). However, the production cars utilised a supercharged version of M-B’s 5 439 cm3 24-valve V8 tuned to deliver 428 kW at 6 100 r/min and 800 N.m of torque at 3 500. Compression ratio was 10,5:1. Under the radically modified CLK coupe body shell (length/width/height: 4 650/1 800/1 360 mm), the all-independent suspension was revised and the front track widened by 74 mm and the rear by 110 mm to allow fitment of special wheels shod with 255/35 ZR19 front and 285/30 ZR20 rear Dunlop SP Super Sport tyres.


With a kerb weight of 1 740 kg that includes an EU-directive 7 kg of luggage and a 90 per cent full fuel tank (which holds 92 litres!), performance figures were given as 0-50 km/h in 2 seconds, 0-100 in 4,1, 0-200 in 12,2 and 0-250 in 20,7, with a standing kilometre time of 20,8 seconds. Top speed was electronically limited to 320 km/h (200 mph).


Getting into the car, the lightweight doors open up to a purely functional interior trimmed in leather, Alcantara and carbon fibre. An ever-so-slightly quartic steering wheel and two rock-hard bucket seats with full racing harnesses backed by a roll hoop where the rear normally resides immediately create an air of intent. Push the button and that forced induction motor burbles into life. Gear shifting is by sensibly-sized wheel-mounted paddles once Drive is selected. Pull away calm as you like but once on a track and the accelerator given some boot, this 12-year-old Silver Arrow is immensely powerful and quick even by today’s standards. Using the big ventilated discs to achieve a slow in/quick out cornering technique, driven smoothly the DTM is immensely rewarding and satisfying with no hidden vices. Yes, it can be provoked into hooliganism but that’s not the order of the day. Using the rev range in second and third is all that was needed to appease the sound man, the faint tyre squeal through the faster corners merely a bonus.


B for ’Benz. B for Brilliant… MM