You Know You Want To: Mercedes E55 AMG (W210)

Maybe it was the autumnal sunshine. But E55 AMG wagon I walked past yesterday en route to the station stopped me in my tracks. And this, the least fashionable W210 (S210, if you're being REALLY nerdy) version.

Ungainly googly-eyed looks. No supercharger and 'only' 354hp. But just as potentially ruinous as the much more exciting supercharged successor. And yet this one looked just fabulous; obviously well cared for, classic 'disc' style AMG five-spokes tastefully dual toned and the whole thing exuding understated, low-slung menace. This on top of catching the fag-end of a conversation the other day that someone had recently scored one for a couple of grand.

£4K at the pricey end? Really?
£4K at the pricey end? Really?
Hi-ho, hi-ho, it's off to the classifieds I go...

Does the mythical 5.5-litre V8 AMG for close to shed money really exist?

Er, no, not right now at least. But having been distracted by a rather nice looking W124 E500 (I shall return to this I think...) I did find a few for around the five grand mark. Which equates to more than one litre engine capacity per £1,000 spent, a good benchmark when browsing the more tempting reaches of the classifieds I feel.

The £5K onesare temptingly priced but both have been, ah, tweaked visually. There's a nice one full of reassuring language in the ad about low miles, four new Goodyear tyres and a full history but that's up at £6.5K.

Two-tone leather livens things  up a bit
Two-tone leather livens things up a bit
But how about this one for just a smidge under four grand? This works out for a very favourable litres per £ ratio and, perhaps with a bit of haggling, could even be yours for 100hp per £1,000. It's a clean looking pre-facelift car in a smart, discreet colour and though nobody could pretend it'd be a cheap car to run it's a tempting prospect. OK, it's got the blockier pre-facelift bodykit but against that the two-tone leather looks good and it's not been obviously tampered with.

These old-school AMGs are, admittedly, lack the supercharged lunacy of those from the post-SL55 era though the engine is essentially the same unit. Auto only counts against them in the eyes of some too but the power band on these things is huge and expansive and the W210 a more nimble beast than its size might suggest. Making progress in an AMG of this era is about discreetly administered speed, the whole package perhaps not as driver focused as the equivalent with an M badge but wonderfully balanced and, as a package, brimming with confidence and assurance.

No beauty but bang per buck quota healthy
No beauty but bang per buck quota healthy
Sure, as discussed recently in SOTW, the 210-series E-Class was not a pinnacle of Mercedes build quality. But this one's got a 5.5-litre V8, not a rattly old diesel. And, tempered with industrial strength 'what if' denial, potentially something of a bargain. Not quite the two grand bargain that inspired this train of thought. But still pretty damned tempting.



Why you should: Potential for 100hp per £1,000 bragging rights, nobody would know it from a 230 Kompressor on fancy wheels, great for racking up Nectar points
Why you shouldn't: If it goes wrong things could get very pricey very quickly, nobody (but your bank manager and local filling station) would know it from a 230 Kompressor on fancy wheels

See the original advert here.


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Comments (94) Join the discussion on the forum

  • General Zod 31 Jan 2014

    An E55 wagon (pre-supercharger) has come up for sale for a touch under £2K at a dealer near me. As a V8 sound generator to use and abuse for a while it must be worth a go?

  • Visionist 24 Dec 2013

    Buttmonkey said:
    I went for one of these earlier this year. So far nothing mechanically has gone wrong at all. I've replaced the front wings and put it through a full respray. Looks great, been derestricted and has a programmeable remap thingy for sheer lunacy. Plus its metallic violet. What can possibly go wrong?

    OK so the alloys need a refurb but all this power and madness for less than £3.5k isn't bad at all.

    Its a keeper.

    Outruns most things until you reach a corner...........
    That is stunning!

  • Bluebottle911 02 Dec 2013

    I ran an E430 (2000/W-reg, facelift model)from for almost 8 years, taking from 26,000 miles to 120,000 in that time without any significant issues and the only rust was on the bonnet due to stone chips.

    Brilliant machine, loads of refinement and almost as much performance as the E55, without the hard edge of the AMG, or the cost. Can be acquired for under £2K and I would recommend it to anyone.

    I am now on my third E-class estate, having driven the equivalent of 8 times round the world in W124/210/211s, with straight six and V8 petrol and now V6 diesel. There is no other estate car that comes anywhere near its combination of load capacity, comfort and performance.

  • stevenkentwba 01 Dec 2013

    Ive had two of these beasts.
    Contrary to popular belief they are not that thirsty. I used to average 20 and on a run to cornwall (admittedly nursing a loose waterhose) I averaged 35 mpg.

    Also easily as quick (in a straight line anyway) as my E39 M5 and XJR and a lot more reliable and cheaper to run

    BARGAIN!!!! :-)

  • finenucars 28 Nov 2013

    Mine is a 1998 S210 5.5 in DB 904. The bicolor leather is dark blue over black which i find nice. It came from a house in Tuscany and had little to do. Now it serves as a family/transport/tow vehicle occasionally.
    I like the instant response of the big V8 and its low noise. The ostentatious "sound" i loved on my 928 but not on a simple estate from Affalterbach. I took care of all its rust issues, so now i own a perfect long distance "Q-hauler" surprising quite a few non-cognoscenti Autobahn users.

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