Over a decade ago, two silver German luxury performance automobiles embarked on planet Earth.

Near the end of the W208 chassis production run in 2001, Mercedes-Benz brought an AMG version of the coupe CLK model, better known as the CLK55 AMG. With resemblance to the E55 AMG, rather to that of the W202 C-Class that is was based on. Non-coincidentally, BMW released the M3 that same year, soon after the newly designed E46 chassis had rolled out to the world.

CLK55 AMG W208 vs BMW M3 E46 Over a Decade Later in pictures…

German Muscle Car: Equipped with a hand-built 5.4L V8 rated at 342 hp and 376 lb-ft of torque. In reality the engine produced 362 hp at the crank, identical to that of the W210 E55, but AMG marketing hierarchy lowered the rating on paper for the CLK55. A 5 speed automatic transmission taken out of the V12 S-Class was put into place to handle the twisting power. With effortless tire shredding torque and great looks to go along with it, the CLK55 was the gentleman’s muscle car of its time.

Precision Driving Machine: The BMW E46 M3 arrived with power from a screaming masterpiece of an engine. A 333hp (343 hp in Europe) and 269 lb-ft of torque S54 3.2L inline 6 cylinder powerplant. Equipped with a 6 speed manual transmission , with an optional 6 speed Sequential Manual Gearbox (SMG), flared out fenders, bulging hood design, and quad exhaust tips. The E46 M3 looked just as good as it performed. Geared mostly towards precision high-tech performance and balanced driving dynamics.

By far the E46 M3 is one of my favorite BMW-M family members, with an almost guaranteed future collector status. This M3 is not strange to the BIMMERTIMES community, as it was featured in a video versus an E92 BMW 335is. As with most AMG models, depreciation of the CLK55 is far greater than that of the M3. But that doesn’t make it any less of a car, as it still pulls like a beast.

If there was one thing you can change about these cars, what would it be?
The Benz could use a nicer set of wheels, maybe some non-chrome W210 E55 Monoblocks from the same era. The pictured CLK55 is 100% stock, making it look a bit aged compared to the M3. Honestly, I would change more, but at the same time, try to keep it looking as stock as possible. It could also use lowered suspension, and a Supersprint exhaust (smiley face). While the M3 could use CSL style wheels instead of the blacked-out stock wheels, and maybe a different rear valence and front bumper splitters.

Car and Driver published a head to head comparison test in the June of 2001 magazine issue that is worthwhile to check out. While a few years later, in 2005 the E46Fanatics message boards had a hot debate about the CLK55 AMG Vs the E46 M3 in the archives. Only if I had room, both cars would be sitting in my garage for years to come.

PHOTO GALLERY: (click picture below to activate)


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