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Attack of the Clones: 2000 Mercedes-Benz S500 Designo "S55 AMG"

Most enthusiasts agree that one of the cardinal sins of our hobby is up-badging your car to appear like something it is not. Long suffering e36 BMW enthusiasts know the pain of seeing an M-badged 318i rattle past them in traffic. So too is the bane of the AMG community - particularly in recent years - and here is a prime example. This 2000 S500 can be found listed here on Craigslist with 70k on the clock just outside of New York City. Asking price is a very attractive $8,700 but given the "additions" we may want more off the top.

This first year W220 S500 presents otherwise as a really fantastic example of what it actually is: An exceptionally clean but dangerously early production W220 with excellent options, low miles, one owner and service records. What it is not, however, is an S55 AMG as the terrible exterior and interior badging crimes would have you believe.

While the exterior badges can be removed without too much trouble, we'd be curious to know if those beautiful seats have now been rendered to rags due to the "bolt through" aftermarket AMG badges the seller has apparently installed. That would really make his attempt at up-marketing his car a truly cardinal sin on these Designo Espresso seats. Closer inspection reveals that he has even placed adhesive "AMG" badges on the burlwood accents on the door - something that was never present on any AMG model - just to remind himself that he is NOT actually in an AMG sedan, we presume.

While this wannabe seller has made terrible choices with the badge additions on this car, he has also installed the S55 AMG wheels (which look nice here) and the S55 AMG exhaust (or at least, the quad tips). Sadly, he did not spring for the S55 Sport bumpers front and rear to finish off the look. If he had, you'd have a reasonable S55 "tribute" that might be forgivable upon deletion of the badges.

Our advice to any interested parties would be to remove the badges (of course) and either install the sport bumpers front and rear or remove the exhaust and return it to stock. The wheels can stay, either way, in our opinion.

With that out of the way, we have to address the other elephant in the room: This is a first model year W220. The W220 is the cheapened successor to the W140 (one of the greatest cars MB ever produced) and these electronics-heavy W220s only began to become palatable in the post-facelift years once the myriad of quirks and problems had been worked out.

These early cars, sadly, were prone to all sorts of issues and only a true masochist (or a certified MB tech) need apply when pursuing one of these on the used market. Without significant dealer service records on this car, there isn't much hope for making a good, reliable sedan from this well-optioned, poorly modified former flagship. If you love the look of these W220 cars (which we do) steer towards a 2006 with the sport appearance package and thank us later.


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