Mercedes-Benz C-Class W202 and Its Sporty C 36 AMG Sibling Go Classic for 30th Anniversary

The first generation Mercedes-Benz C-Class W202 and the sporty C 36 AMG turned 30 and became classics.
Mercedes-Benz C-Class W202 6 photos
Photo: Mercedes-benz
Mercedes-Benz C-Class T-ModelMercedes-Benz C-ClassMercedes-Benz C-ClassMercedes C 36 AMGMercedes C 36 AMG
Launched in May 1993, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class W202 had the complicated mission of replacing the 190 (W201), known as the Baby-Benz, one of Mercedes' best-selling models. From 1982 to 1993, the 190 sold 1,874,668 units. However, surprisingly, the successor to the 190 and the first Mercedes-Benz model to bear the C-Class name achieved sales of 1,847,382 units in just seven years from 1993 to 2000. It is true that the station wagon version T-Model, launched for the first time in March 1996, also contributed to this result.

The range of petrol engines was very generous and catered to all tastes, from 4-cylinder naturally aspirated or supercharged engines with mechanical compressor to V6 or inline 6-cylinder engines, all equipped with petrol injection. Only one 4-cylinder version was sold in the U.S.: C 220 with 150 ps (148 hp) and 210 Nm (155 lb ft)

Europeans could also opt for two other 4-cylinder models: C 180 (1.8 liter/120 ps/118 hp) and C 200 (2.0 liter/130 ps/128 hp). The top models were the C 240 (V6, 2.4 liter/170 ps/168 hp) and the C 280 (inline 6, 2.8 liter/193 ps/190 hp). There was also a supercharged version with a mechanical compressor, the C 230 Kompressor 2.3 liters developing 193 ps/190 hp.

In some European countries, which had high taxes on engines with displacement more significant than two liters, Mercedes-Benz developed a 2-liter version with a mechanical compressor called the C 200 Kompressor.

From 190, the C-Class took over the venerable OM601 naturally aspirated diesel: C 200 diesel (2.0 l/75 ps/74 hp) and C 220 diesel (2.2 l/95 ps/94 hp). The most potent diesel is the OM605 2.5-liter inline 5-cylinder engine with 113 hp/111 ps.

Mercedes\-Benz C\-Class
Photo: Mercedes-Benz
In 1995 when the W210 E-Class was launched, Mercedes-Benz made a curious decision and dropped the inline 6-cylinder engines in favor of the V6 configuration. So for the facelift, the inline 6-cylinder engine was replaced by a V6 of the same displacement. Also, in the 1996 facelift, the C 220 was replaced by the C 230, which had the same 150 hp/148 hp but 10 Nm/ 7 lb ft more torque.

In 1997, there was a turning point for the diesel engine. Mercedes developed, together with Bosch, the OM611 diesel engine with a common rail system. The first model with this engine is C 220 CDI and produces 125 ps/123 hp at a displacement of 2.2 liters. Later the C 200 CDI version (2.0 liter, 102 ps/100.5 hp) was also released.

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class W202 range was also the first to have an AMG model. Mercedes-Benz needed to launch a rival for the BMW M3 because, in November 1992, BMW launched the second generation M3, which also received a limousine version in December 1994, equipped with a 3-liter, 286 ps/282 hp inline 6-cylinder engine.

Mercedes C 36 AMG
Photo: Mercedes-Benz

The Mercedes C 36 AMG was unveiled in September 1993 at the Frankfurt Motor Show and was available as a 1995 model, powered by a 3.6 liter inline 6-cylinder engine with 280 ps/276 hp mated to a four-speed automatic transmission. Unlike the M3 sedan, Mercedes C 36 AMG did not have a manual transmission.

But the Mercedes C 36 AMG wasn't an accurate AMG model, and its production was very complex. The AMG division took a C 280, disassembled it at the Affalterbach plant, and fitted the engine, exhaust, suspension, and body kit. The tradition of assembling the engine by hand dates back to then.

The C 36 AMG was not a great commercial success, selling 5221 units until 1997, when the V8-powered C 43 AMG replaced it. The C 43 AMG was also the first accurate AMG model to be designated an AMG model from the start. On American websites, the average selling price of the C 36 AMG is $13,000, with offers ranging from $5,000 to $25,000. However, less than 50,000 miles onboard models are at least $15,000.

The U.S. is the world's largest classic car market, estimated to be worth USD 14-15 billion in 2020 and is forecast by Statista to reach USD 18.77 billion in 2024. According to U.S. legislation, classic cars divide into several categories: Classic, Antique, Historical, and Vintage. The specifications of these categories differ from state to state, but generally, the Antique category designates cars between 25 and 40 years old in which the C-Class W202 fits.

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