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Used Mercedes-Benz C36 AMG review: 1995-1997

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Buy with confidence; all Mercedes-Benz Certified Pre-Owned vehicles come with a factory backed warranty, 100 point safety check, comprehensive service history and 24hr roadside assistance.

There are two reasons to buy a used car. One is to buy cheap by avoiding the first couple of years when depreciation is at its highest, the other is to buy a better car than you could otherwise afford new.

The Mercedes-Benz AMG C36 falls in the latter category. With a new price of $154,900 when launched in 1995 only the very well heeled could afford it, but 10 years later many more of us can afford to drive one of the great sports sedans of the last decade.

The C36 was the result of the partnership between Mercedes-Benz and its performance partner AMG, which had built a strong reputation for its tuned versions of regular Mercedes-Benz sedans. AMG began tuning Mercedes-Benz cars back in the 1960s, but today is part of Daimler and its work is now done in-house.

MODEL WATCH

The C36 started life like any other humble C-Class; it only grew horns after being transported across town to the AMG factory where it underwent surgery of the most radical kind in the process of being transformed into a super sports sedan.

When it emerged from the ’Benz bunker it was a C280 with a 2.8-litre straight six-cylinder engine, but by the time it left the AMG factory the engine was stretched to 3.6 litres courtesy of a larger bore and longer stroke and was a ’bahn-storming C36.

Inside, the compression ratio had been raised to 10.5: 1, a new inlet camshaft worked with a high flow inlet manifold to ease the charge into the engine, and enlarged exhaust ports and a free flow exhaust system fast tracked the spent gases away.

With revised electronics to make the best use of the changes the enlarged engine put out 206 kW at 5750 revs and 385 Nm at 4000 revs. That put it into the company of other hot sports sedans like the BMW M3 and 540i, and the homegrown HSV GTS.

Tests at the time had it sprinting from rest to 100 km/h in 6.5 secs while accounting for the standing 400-metre dash in 14.5s. Top speed was electronically limited to 250 km/h.

Naturally the C36 wasn’t just about its engine, it also had a beefed-up four-speed auto taken from the S-Class and a sportier torque convertor. An updated model in late 1996 saw the four-speed auto replaced by a five-speed.

Underneath, its suspension was lowered and retuned with new springs and shocks, while the steering was sharpened even though it was still lacking in feel much as most Mercedes do. Along with the extra speed the C36 also featured massively increased braking power with brakes taken from the S-Class with an overlay of anti-skid and traction control electronics for added safety.

Large 17-inch alloy wheels and low profile tyres completed the sporty package, and were the main clues to the C36’s performance potential. There were other things that made you take a second look, but the C36 was a subtle package, the sort that caught others unaware when the lights turned green.

A combination of a new front spoiler, side skirts and rear airdam along with some subtle AMG badges helped give it a meaner look than its regular cousins. As would be expected of a car costing almost $155,000 the C36 was packed with luxury features, including leather trim, air-conditioning, sports seats, cruise, power windows, tinted glass, dual front airbags, 10-stacker CD player, remote central locking and sunroof.

IN THE SHOP

There is always a risk in buying an expensive used car like the C36, which will have more than 100,000 km on average and as much as 150,000 km or more if they’ve been regularly driven. That’s the key as these sorts of cars are often garaged for much of their life while their owners use other more modest cars for their regular transport. For that reason they often have much lower odometer readings than most cars of a similar age.

It’s also important not to rush in and buy the first you see. Although they are relatively rare and don’t come up for sale on a regular basis it’s best to shop around and make a careful decision. Look for a low mileage car, one with a verifiable service record and with all the indicators of low use. Things like lack of wear on the driver’s side carpet, the side bolster of the driver’s seat, the steering wheel.

Get an independent check, preferably by a Mercedes expert, and inspect it closely for panel damage. Expect to pay more for replacement parts and don’t try to get away with cheaper parts if you want to maintain the C36’s performance.

IN A CRASH

An agile chassis with sports settings, big brakes, antilock and traction control electronics deliver a high level of primary safety, while dual front airbags protect the front passengers in a frontal collision. Used car crash investigators rate the C-Class ’Benz better than average in protecting its occupants in a crash and average in its impact on others.

LOOK FOR
• subtle styling masks performance potential
• great high performance luxury cruiser
• agile and responsive chassis
• powerful brakes match performance
• loads of standard features

VERDICT
A rare and exhilarating sports sedan worth considering instead of a new Commodore SS or Falcon XR8.

RATING
85/100

Pricing

Year Price From Price To
1997 $4,300 $24,200
1996 $2,900 $23,870
1995 $2,900 $20,790

View all Mercedes-Benz C-Class pricing and specifications

Pricing guides

$11,845
Based on third party pricing data
Lowest Price
$2,900
Highest Price
$20,790

Range and Specs

VehicleSpecsPrice*
C36 AMG 3.6L, PULP, 4 SP AUTO $14,700 – 20,790 1995 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 1995 C36 AMG Pricing and Specs
C180 Classic 1.8L, ULP, 4 SP AUTO $3,500 – 5,610 1995 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 1995 C180 Classic Pricing and Specs
C250 D Classic 2.5L, Diesel, 4 SP AUTO $6,700 – 10,450 1995 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 1995 C250 D Classic Pricing and Specs
C250 D Elegance 2.5L, Diesel, 4 SP AUTO $7,500 – 11,550 1995 Mercedes-Benz C-Class 1995 C250 D Elegance Pricing and Specs
Graham Smith
Contributing Journalist

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Disclaimer: The pricing information shown in the editorial content (Review Prices) is to be used as a guide only and is based on information provided to Carsguide Autotrader Media Solutions Pty Ltd (Carsguide) both by third party sources and the car manufacturer at the time of publication. The Review Prices were correct at the time of publication.  Carsguide does not warrant or represent that the information is accurate, reliable, complete, current or suitable for any particular purpose. You should not use or rely upon this information without conducting an independent assessment and valuation of the vehicle.