Tuesday, September 23, 2014

5k: Hammer Time: 1999 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG W210

Mercedes-Benz redefined executive class performance when it released the E55 AMG in 1999 for the US Market.  Sure, BMW's M5 had been around for a few generations, but it was sabre with manual gearboxes that tempted its driver to carve up corners. The AMG was a hammer, a big tire smoking cudgel meant to bludgeon the pavement into submission, but at the same time it could be docile and liveable in traffic.  What more can you ask for in a 15 year old $5k driver?  Find this 1999 Mercedes-Benz E55 AMG offered for $4500 in Torrance, CA via craigslist.

The recipe for the E55 was simple, start with a standard W210 luxury sedan and add a brutish 5.5 liter V8 rated at 354 horsepower and 391 ft-lbs of torque.  No forced induction or supercharged wizardry, just a bunch of air flowing into DOHC V8 that produced zero-60mph times in the low 5 second range.  A subtle body kit and AMG badges are the only external clues that something is special.

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  1. This is what you buy now instead of an over priced muscle car. A clapped out 289 mustang or beat 72 Nova for $7,000 or this? Sometimes one has to redefine what a hot rod really is.
    Plus it has monoblock wheels. Awesome deal

  2. This sure seems like the deal of the day. If the records document a good maintenance history then I would pull the trigger on one that didn't require a cross country trip.
    Although flying in and driving this brute back to the Smokeys doesn't sound all bad.

  3. It's an early one and fairly high miles. That said, these are relatively simple cars compared to what came next and even compared to the E39 M5, and from my limited comparative experience it seems BMW didn't thrift the W210 quite as aggressively as BMW did the E39 - the plastics are a little better, etc.

    They are nice cars, once again we're into the "do I spend $35K on a Camry or do I buy this for less than the Camry's down payment and figure a couple hundred a month into higher fuel bills and repairs component replacement?" question.


    1) If you're gonna own something like this, you're probably going to want to invest in mechanic-grade diagnostic software e.g. Autoenginuity at $500 or so.

    2) "Lowered suspension is the only modification" - I'd look carefully at how that was done and probably undo it.

    3) I don't know MB parts and service anywhere near as well as BMW, so I can't say whether there's anything in this car subject to a big-dollar/big-hassle failure (e.g. the air-injection passage clogging on some E39 M5s and apparently on later 6.3 AMGs that does nothing to how the car runs but will keep you from passing smog in some areas) or service job (cam-chain/guide replacement on many OHC engines around this age).

  4. Monoblock. The world needs more Monoblock. Some things should never go out of style.


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