How to put W211 E55 wheels on your W208 CLK

E55 Wheels on CLK55

The 2002 CLK55 that I recently bought came with a set of aftermarket wheels that just didn’t work for me.  They were Katana GTM wheels, which look fantastic on the company’s website, but the 18×7.5 wheels didn’t have enough “dish” to look proper on the CLK.  The fronts were OK, but the rear wheels had improper offset and were tucked way too far inside the fenders, giving the car an anemic look.  Of course it doesn’t help that the 7.5″ wide wheels will only support a 225-40/18 tire.

Katana GTM Wheels on 2002 CLK55

I decided to solve this problem by killing two birds with one stone.  I could sell the Katana wheels and recoup some of what I paid for the car, and I could clean out my garage just a little by putting my old factory E55 wheels on the CLK.

It took a little research, but I figured out it is possible to put the E55 wheels off the W211 chassis (2003-2008) onto the W208 chassis (1998-2002) even though the E55 has 14mm lug bolts and the CLK has 12mm bolts.  The thread diameter difference is obvious, but what a lot of people don’t know is that the ball radius is different too.  The Mercedes 12 mm diameter bolts have a 12 mm radius ball seat, likewise, the 14 mm bolts have a 14 mm radius ball seat.  As you can imagine, the two are not interchangeable.  Using 12 mm bolts on wheels designed for 14 mm bolts will not give enough contact surface between the bolt and the wheel.  Fortunately, there is a solution!

The key is to get a special set of “hybrid” lug bolts.  There is a company in California called Otis Inc. LA that makes a series of bolts that have 12 mm threads, but also have 14 mm ball seats.  Otis sells wheel hardware that is made in Europe or the U.S.A, and I’m using this paragraph to give them an endorsement because they gave me fantastic customer service, plus they are the only place that I could find these hybrid lug bolts.  They offer them in 26, 35, 42, and 55 mm shank lengths.

I submitted a question of their website contact form on a Saturday evening and I got a response from Phil within 5 minutes.

The E55 wheels still have the 265-35/18’s on the rears and the 245-40/18’s on the front, which, although much wider than the CLK factory sizes, will fit just fine.  The fronts might rub just a little on the fender liner, but I’m OK with that.  If you are worried about it you may want to stick with 235’s or 225’s up front.  The rears fit OK, but they are still tucked-in too far for my taste, so I’m using a set of 20 mm spacers to fill the fenders out a little better.  Overall I’m pleasantly surprised at how much room this little CLK has under it for tires.

What you’ll need for this job

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