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  #1  
Old 09-11-2002, 12:44 AM
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c36 buyers advice\guide

I was looking to buy an E320 wagon until I came across the c36.

There are a lot of E-class cars out there, so there is a lot of information as to what kinds of things to look for and beware of when buying an E-class.

The c36 isn't quite as common, but I have seen quite a few people looking to buy. Is there anyone out there that has the experience with these cars to put together a checklist of some sort? What to beware of especially?

What parts should have been replaced by 100k? Does the wiring harness get crusty like the E320? Common leaks or failures? What kind of repair bills to expect? Will the brakes really cost 800-1500 dollars to replace? Does this include labor? Are the hand-built AMG engines generally less likely to fail because of the care with tolerances and construction?

What types of parts are interchangeable with the C-Class? S and SL-Class?

I know that I have a lot of questions for my first post. If these answers are available in other threads or you know of any c36 websites with this info let me know. Thanks in advance!
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  #2  
Old 09-11-2002, 05:42 PM
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My wife bought a used 1995 C36 last summer, tand we only owned it for a month or so. Not because it wasn't a great car, but we happened upon another car.

Anyway, the C36 is pretty bullet-proof if properly cared for. Our car had close to 100K-miles on it, and was strong and tight. The engine was new as far as compression/leakdown specs.

The tranny (95-96 is four speed, 97 is five speed) was also strong, and seemed like it would last MUCH longer.

The C36 is a C280 with a reworked suspension, driveline, and brakes. Most bits are standard C-Class fare, which lowers operating costs. It's essentially a stock C280 that is shipped to AMG, where they replace the above mentioned components. You "normal" parts are W202, which means low priced in MB land.

But, AMG specific bits are PRICEY. No doubt about it. Brakes, as you mentioned, can easily run four figures for discs and pads. We did the rear brakes on the C36, and it was more than doing all four on the C230. Nearly $1000. ($520 for all four at the dealer for the C230)

Also, the dealer will be your prime source of service, as many indie shops won't carry AMG bits. You may luck out, but be prepared to pay at the top end of the scale.

That said, the C36 is pretty incredible car for the money, and seems durable and reliable. We took ours to the drag strip, and it ran low 14's all evening and could hit 60mph in the high five's/low sixes.

The 1995 cars are your best bet for price, the 1997 models are the quickest with the five speed. Also, the 1996- cars have slightly improved ACC/AC systems.

The ASR program for the 1995 we owned was aggressive, and ruined the fun often. 1996- finds the ASR as standard. Finding a 1995 w/o ASR would be a bonus!

All C36 cars were well equipped. Ours had a glass sunroof, heated seats, leather sports seats (AMAZING seats!) ASR, headlamp washers, and so on. In Canada in 1995, the car was close to $80K new.

Tires will be a major operating expense. The 17" wheels take pretty standard sizes, but this car's performance ability means you're limited to Max Performance tires only. Forget anything else. We put 10,000 kilometers on ours (6K-miles) and were most of the way through a new set of Michelin Pilot Sports. Okay,t hat includes an evening at the strip, but if you drive this car even a little hard, tires wear out quick.

It also drinks gas when pushed. After driving the C230, I was startled at the consumption!

Off the line performance is good, but the C36's real strength is roll-on and high speed work. The torque is immense and the car's ability to leap is terrific. I roll-on stomped a WRX on the highway. From a dead stop, the WRX might have the edge, but not at 110 km/h+. I also had no trouble finding the 250 km/h speed limiter.

While it is a breath behind the E500 for performance, the little C36 has some benefits. One is the handling. The car is lighter than it's big brother, and handling is amazing for a sedan. It's really well balanced, and I would pit it against the E500 on a very tight track. The wishbone suspension is superior to the strut version.

The ride is okay, but no luxury car soft here.

I understand that some 1995 owners have had wiring harness issues, but I didn't see such a thing in the brief time we owned ours.

Try to find a cherry one-owner 1997 if you want the pinnacle of C36 ownership. A 1995/96 car can be a great deal...

...good luck!
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  #3  
Old 09-11-2002, 07:26 PM
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I bought a 1997 C36 about 1 year ago, and it is a great car!! I bought it to be a daily driver for my wife, that is also a terrific amount of fun for me. It plays both roles easily. It is blazingly fast, and pretty quick as well ('97s have the 5 speed trans). Ours had only 50,000 miles so by M-B standards it was just getting broken in, as for problems we haven't had a one in 8000-9000 miles. I've priced brake parts to do the job myself and didn't find them too very high. I've read things about the head gasket being weak but ours doesn't leak a drop. My best advice would be to find a well cared for car (prices are also pretty reasonable now) and enjoy it without worry.
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  #4  
Old 09-12-2002, 07:01 AM
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John/all,

A C36 will run away from a 500E on a tight track fer sure, assuming comparable pilots in both cars. However, if there's any kind of straight on the track, the 500E will make up the time there; further, 500E brakes work exceptionally well (I credit the chassis) so I'd say braking is comparable (but the C36 would maybe tolerate more abuse with its enormous binders...more material to absorb the heat)
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  #5  
Old 09-12-2002, 07:39 AM
daveb12
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KLEEMANN

I received the results from Starfest and the C36AMG won the autocross in it's division.

It posted a 15.146 for the 1/4 mile.

(The CLK55AMG posted a 13.807 and the KLEEMANN version posted a 12.725.)

Also, on the track it posted a 120.700.

The C32AMG's seem to have done better on the track at 112.348-118.752.

Does Kleemann make a blower for the C36 or C32?

I bet that would be a fun car.

Dave
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  #6  
Old 09-12-2002, 09:09 AM
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C32 is already a blown motor - KLEEMANN makes an overdrive pulley setup to increase its boost pressure, though, and ups power a worthwhile amount (don't know the actual numbers)

As to the C36, no dice...it uses a straight six derived from the 3.2 M104 inline 6 motor. However, the C43 can have a Kompressor fitted, and that would bring horsepower up to 450 or so...that car would absolutely FLY You'd probably need to lower it, though, since it might go airborne pushing through 200 MPH...

One comment regarding Starfest - all the quick cars you mentioned were on race slicks for the track events - the sole SLK32 on street tires was several seconds behind. I'd say on that track, slicks are good for no less than 5 secs/lap (not to make excuses, but I would've loved to see that car on sticky tires).
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Last edited by Michael; 09-12-2002 at 09:16 AM.
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  #7  
Old 09-12-2002, 10:37 AM
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Re: KLEEMANN

The C36 is really out of it's league against a C32. It's a 70hp difference!!

Micheal: The C36's brakes are superb. I think they're at least as large as the E500 units, and installed in a lighter car. I did a whack (about 25 in a row from 90-100mph) of high speed stops on nearly worn pads/rotors, and there was NO fade. It's like throwing an anchor out!

You're right about the straight-away's, as that's where the E500 can reel 'em in.

Of course, only the Kleeman CLK55K stands a chance when the new E55 476hp car lands...
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  #8  
Old 09-12-2002, 10:49 AM
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KLEEMANN power

John/all,

Any of the big-bore KLEEMANN cars (E500K (W211), E55K (W210), SL500K, CL500K or 55K, even S500K or 55K) will be able to keep up with the new E55, but I'm very interested to see if it's as complete a package as the current AMG cars (brakes, suspension). If so, that's one heckuva ride!

I've got a call in to the guy in charge of the MBUSA motor pool-trying to wrangle a ride in one

I'll report in.
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  #9  
Old 09-12-2002, 01:20 PM
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Even though I have a 1995 C36 engine & tranny in a W124 wagon, I think the better value is the C43 that replaced the C36 . . .

:-) neil
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  #10  
Old 09-12-2002, 04:54 PM
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Not in Canada Neil. A typical 98/99 C43 (clean low miles Signature Warranty) is in the very high $40's to low $50's. A nice 99 C43 will be $52K or so.

A "higher" (75K-miles) 1995 C36 can be had (one owner well cared for version) for $30-35K. We paid $31,000 for our 1995 one owner extra clean car with 90,000 miles.

But, I do really like the V-8 in the W202 chassis. Just plain impressive! The C43 also has the five speed tranny and I personally like the front valance even better than the C36.

The M113 V-8 is also proving to be bullet-proof, and the AMG mods are pretty simple, not increasing the load on the engine significantly.

Some do not like the stiffer suspension settings of the C43 over the C36, but that sounds too subjective to make an accurate judgement on.

Since the C43 is a 1998-, it also gets SmartKey and sidebags, if those things matter to you.

I asked Eddy Lai (AMG in Vancouver) and he thinks the 1997 C36 and the C43 are a pretty even match, both quicker than the 1995-96 C36 cars thanks to the five speed and steeper final drive ratio.

If memory serves, Eddy has done a 4-matic E-Class wagon with the 3.6L engine and driveline. Those wagon owners are some-kinda-kooky folks!
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  #11  
Old 09-13-2002, 04:24 PM
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Michael: The C36 motor is based on the C280 motor platform, 2.8l not a 3.2. Just to clarify.
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  #12  
Old 09-15-2002, 08:56 AM
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C36 for sale

I have a 1996 C36 with only 3425 miles. Every option including cd/phone. Silver with black interior. I'm either going to sell or trade. Have extended warranty. For more details you can email at: mbaschieri@bwsys.net.
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