CLK55 Project Begins!

I’ve been racing my 2004 E55 for the past three years and now that it’s running in the low 11’s I risk getting kicked out of the track at every event because it lacks a rollbar.  Since it’s my daily driver I don’t want to cut into it so I decided to retire it from race duty and buy another car to use exclusively for drag racing.  This will allow me to be aggressive on the weight-reduction and tuning fronts, as well as add any safety gear necessary as my ETs drop and the MPHs go up.

…it’s a running, driving car and I only paid $850 for it!

I decided to go with a W208 CLK chassis because they seem to be the lightest cars that came with the M113, and I definitely plan on doing an M113k powerplant.  After a few months of trolling the various car-selling websites, I came across this beauty:

She’s a 2002 CLK55 with 219k miles on the clock, but the best part is that it’s a running, driving car and I only paid $850 for it!  Even with shipping from LA to Portland the total cost was only around $1500.  Of course for that kind of money it does have some issues, but they are typical stuff for any MB of this era: needs a battery, motor mounts, rear main seal, front LCA bushings, new tires all around and a good cleaning.  It’s got some other issues with the electronics, but for a racecar, I don’t really care about those too much.

I’ve got a multi-year plan for this car, as follows:

Phase I: Stock Baseline

Goal: 13.20 ET

The 2018 race season will be to set a baseline, keeping the car 100% stock.  All I’m going to do is fix the above issues, do an oil change, new plugs and wires, and make it look a little prettier.  The paint will get wet-sanded followed by buffing and polishing, and I will put my old OEM E55 wheels and tires on it.  Those anemic looking little 225’s have got to go!

Phase II: Weight Reduction

Goal: 12.99 ET

After establishing a stock performance baseline, the next phase will be weight reduction.  Here’s what I have planned:

  • Racing seats
  • Remove rear seat
  • Remove all sound deadening
  • Manual R&P swap
  • CLK320 brakes and wheels
  • Sunroof delete
  • Miscellaneous weight reduction as I go along

I’d like to save 500 lbs, but that may be a little optimistic.

Phase III: Bolt-Ons

Goal: 11.50 ET

This is where the fun begins!  The steering changes will have made room for a proper set of long tube headers to let the beast breathe properly.  An aftermarket ECU and TCU will let me play around with tuning beyond the limits of the factory ECU.  I’ve already got a rear subframe sitting in my garage (thanks Alex!) with 3.73 gears, a Quaife LSD, and heavy-duty drive axles.  This is also where I’ll put in a higher stall converter and probably upgrade the transmission.  A rollbar will get installed that is certified down to 8.50 along with any other safety gear needed for the lower ET’s/higher MPH’s.  Let’s see how fast we can get a NA M113 to go!

Phase IV: Fully Built M113K

Goal: 8.99 ET

At this point I should be close to the performance levels of my E55.  Now it’s time to go for broke!  I’ll do a fully-built, sleeved, overbored M113K motor with ported heads, forged pistons, aftermarket cams, and hopefully around 20 psi of boost.  My ultimate goal is to run an 8.99 in the ¼ mile.  Based on others who have paved the way (Blackbenzz, I’m looking at you!) this should be attainable.  Time will tell!

I expect this whole process to take 4-5 years, so subscribe if you’re interested and I’ll post updates along the way.

Leave a Reply