What would you guess is the rarest AMG of all time? The insane SL73 AMG? They made almost 90 of those, everyone and their mother has one. The bonkers 300E 6.0 Hammer? We’re not quite sure, they were all custom orders, so let’s say a couple hundred thousand were made. Even the multi-million dollar CLK-GTR has 35 road going examples in existence, making it virtually a dime a dozen. Then, there’s this. It looks like an ordinary CL500 from the early 00's; the sort of car you pick up for twelve grand and then fork over that same amount in repairs every year until you finally cry uncle. In fact, it’s the 2001 Mercedes-Benz CL63 AMG, a V12 tourer of which only 26 examples were produced.

From roughly 2000 to 2002, all of Mercedes’ “600" and “55 AMG” models were powered by naturally aspirated engines; a 5.8 V12 and a 5.4 V8 respectively. Around the end of 2002, both the “600" and “55" models were treated to new power plants. The 5.4 V8 (M113) gained a supercharger and intercooler for added oomph but was otherwise unchanged. The M137 V12 was a different story. While offering improved fuel-efficiency over its predecessor, it quickly became apparent that the V12 in the CL600 was something of a flop, producing less power and torque than the V12 in the old W140 CL600 and offering no other real improvements beyond fuel economy. Mercedes solved this problem by replacing the M137 with a new bi-turbo 5.5 (or 6.0 in AMG versions) V12, the M275. However, just before the switch to the new M275 and the introduction of the obscenly powerful CL65, AMG got their hands on the M137. They fettled with it, increased the displacement to 6.3 liters, and for just one month in November of 2001, they sold them.

The engine made its way into the S-Class, CL-Class, and perhaps most amusingly, the 2002 G-Class. Exact sales numbers for the V12 S63 are unknown, but Mercedes-Benz sold just 26 CL63 AMGs and five G63 AMGs. This was not for a lack of demand, but due to the extreme exclusivity of the cars. Like the CL65 that replaced it, the CL63 had a sticker price that translated to over 200,000 US dollars. Not that this translation matters, as the 26 CL63s, along with the S63s and G63s, were only made available in Europe and Asia. On top of that, they were only offered to the sort of people Mercedes deemed worth of such a car, mostly heads of state. The CL63 AMG produced 444hp and 457 lb-ft of torque, hit 60 in 4.8 seconds, and like all the Germans, had a governed top speed of 155mph. This put the performance of the CL63 and S63 right in between the lesser 55 models and their replacement 65 models.

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If you are in the United States, sorry, but your odds of seeing Santa Claus flying on a sleigh towed by a herd of Bigfoots are better than your odds of seeing a 2001 CL63 AMG. For those in Europe and Asia, your chances aren’t much better. Combine the rarity of the cars with the fact that not all of them had AMG badging and that most of them wound up in the sealed, secured garage of some royalty or other, seeing one in the wild would be the spot of the century. It’s rare enough that on Mercedes-AMG forums, the first response to a post about the ‘01 S63/CL63 is usually, “There was no S63/CL63 in 2001.” So if you see a C215 in the wild, do as you would normally do. Admire its striking beauty, gorgeous proportions, and elegantly flowing pillarless roof. Pity the driver, who is likely off to sell some of their less vital organs in order to keep their old Benz on the road. But if you can, take a closer look at the car or Google search the plate number. You might be in the presence of one of the rarest and most exclusive modern Mercedes-Benz cars ever made. Nearly as exclusive, in fact, as an old A-Class.