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

  • JamStar 17 Oct 2012

    That estate looks fantastic! First post on the thread honours :-)

  • Ellieb10 17 Oct 2012

    They make a lovely noise. A dealer started one of these and a C43 up inside the showroom for me when I went with a mate who was buying an AUC 2.3-16 in 2000. Wanted one ever since. However I'd probably go for an Alpina B10 V8 for similar money if I wanted to up my gas bill as the handling on the Alpina's a bit better.

  • jimmy_mac 17 Oct 2012

    I remember a period magazine test (Top Gear if memory serves) that pitted this E55 against its contemporaries the XJR and A8 in appalling Scottish weather. I remember period me wanting all 3 but lusting after the E55 the most. A very cool car.

  • devnull 17 Oct 2012

    Fantastic cars, some serious want there. Engines are simple enough to work on. Unfortunately it's all about the rust on these, as with other E Classes of this era.

  • chiefski26 17 Oct 2012

    Amazing value for money if you can find a decent one.

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