Ah, the A-Class. Its weird mini MPV shape made it the odd one out in the marque’s model line-up when Mercedes-Benz first unveiled it back in the late ’90s, and that was also perhaps why the German carmaker never made an AMG version of the first-generation A-Class – well, not officially or for sale, anyway.
But for some reason, when the McLaren-Mercedes F1 Team won the Constructors’ Championship back in 1998, Mercedes-Benz thought that the perfect way to celebrate it was by making two special edition A-Class models: Edition Häkkinen and Edition Coulthard, obviously named after their two drivers, Mika Häkkinen and David Coulthard.
Only 250 units of these were ever made – 125 copies each, and now more than 20 years later, a pristine example of the Edition Häkkinen model has just turned up for sale at Mechatronic.de, with a listed price of EUR44,900 (Approx. RM222k) – almost the price for a brand-new Mercedes-AMG A 35 over in Germany!
So what exactly do you get with that kind of money? Well, first of all, there won’t be an increase in power.
It’s fair to assume that a F1-themed special-edition model would at least get some sort of performance gain, and rumour has it that the A 38 AMG one-off twin-engine model actually belongs to Mr. Häkkinen himself. But alas, Mercedes-Benz decided that the regular engine line-up for the A-Class is fit enough for the purpose.
In the A 160 form, which the Häkkinen Edition was based on, the 1.6-litre naturally-aspirated inline-four mill produces just 102 hp and 150 Nm of torque, with power sent exclusively to the front wheels via a five-speed manual gearbox that features an automatic clutch system.
What you do get, at least, is a reworked sportier suspension set-up, which should improve the handling of the mini MPV. The ESP badge on the tailgate stands for electric stability control, which should also help keep all four wheels on the ground, and not flip over like the earlier versions did in the infamous elk test.
The main highlight of the Edition Häkkinen is actually on the cosmetics side, where it gets a hand-finished Mercedes-McLaren livery, with red and black accents airbrushed on the silver bodywork. Just like the championship-winning cars, the driver’s name and country flag is also plastered on the side.
A set of 17-inch AMG wheels shod in low-profile tyres, plus the dual exhaust exits at the rear, complete the unique exterior makeover.
Moving inside, you’ll see that the cabin is almost entirely covered in a sea of red Designo leather, including on the seats, doors, dashboard, and steering wheel. The gearshift stalk gets a special commemorative Edition Häkkinen trim, with “Nr. 046/250” inscripted at the bottom, but that’s about the extent of customisation that’s been made to the special-edition Mercedes-Benz A 160.
At least, you’re probably buying the lowest-mileage first-generation Mercedes-Benz A-Class in the world, with only 215 km recorded on the clock. The car was originally delivered to Rome back in 1999, but since then, it’s mostly spent its time parked in showrooms or hidden in closed garages, and thus both the interior and exterior are kept in such immaculate condition.
And of course, there’s the whole collectability aspect of a special edition model bearing F1 legend Mika Häkkinen’s name on the side. He is after all the only driver who managed to beat Michael Schumacher in his prime, winning the F1 Driver’s Championship title in both 1998 and 1999.